December 19, 2018
How to juggle work and your personal passions at the same time
By: Amanda Low

When I first started at Accenture last year, I was ready to give up being a competitive dance athlete in order to focus on my career. To my surprise, Accenture encouraged me to continue pursuing my passion. Accenture encourages hobbies and interests outside of work because research has shown they help reduce stress levels, improve performance and motivation and create work-life balance. I made the decision to continue training with my team and competed in regional and national competitions up to five times a year. Last year, my team won the National Championship and received a bid to compete at the prestigious 2018 United States All Star Federation (USASF) Dance Worlds Championship, which was regarded as the highest level of international competition amongst the best dance teams in the world. This was the goal my team had been working so hard towards the past four years, and we finally achieved it.

My team grinning from ear to ear after hearing we came 9th place in the world. Go Australia!

Passion is what will keep you going when the going gets tough

Training intensity and commitment significantly increased in the months leading up to the World Championship in April, compared to regular training for the Australian competition season in previous years. My managers and colleagues at work were all really supportive, which meant I was able to manage my work hours and up to 15 hours a week of rehearsals. I remember my weekdays being filled with work at the client office, followed by four hours of rehersals in the evenings, dinner at 11 p.m., then jumping back online to finish urgent client deliverables. It was a struggle but I got through it.

Although I was close to burning out, the passion I had for everything I was doing was strangely fuelling my fire. My competitive dancing was like an iceberg. People only saw 10 percent of the whole picture, that I got to dance all the time and travel to the US to compete. What others missed was all the hard work, tears, pain and stress I was enduring. Through it all, I had to constantly remind myself of the “why” of my dream and I knew I was doing it because I simply loved it. Dance made me feel alive and allowed me to express my creative inner self.

Don’t let obstacles stop you from achieving your dreams

In the lead up to and during the World Championship competition in Florida; my doctor, physiotherapist and osteopath all recommended me to stop dancing because I had severe patellar tendinities in both my knees. However, my physical injuries were not enough to deter me from achieving this ultimate goal of mine – to compete on the international stage. So I kept pushing.

Every training session and even whilst competing in America, I was loading up on the strongest painkillers with both knees strapped. I would push through the excruciating pain and continue doing difficult jumps and turns in the routine, and subsequently ice my knees each time as I cried from the pain. Nonetheless, this made me even more determined to do my best on the world stage. After all our hard work, my team ended up placing ninth in our division in the finals, which is the best any Australian team has ever achieved. We never imagined such a stellar result, but we were grateful and could not be happier. All the sacrifice and pain was indeed well worth it.

Feeling the adrenaline rush of finally competing at the Dance World Championship.

Push through with resilience when you’ve got too many balls in the air

If there’s one thing competitive sport has taught me, it’s resilience. You have to keep your eye on the prize regardless of what you’re doing – at work and in your personal life. No matter how tough it gets, having clear goals in both areas and focusing on the “why” of what you’re doing can help you survive the difficult times – especially when you feel like giving up. Albeit it’s no walk in the park, remember to persevere and consistently put in the effort. When you have doubts, be your own coach and cheerleader. You have to believe in yourself and you will achieve your goal eventually, against all odds.

Commit to pursuing that personal passion and goal of yours

What is the one thing you’ve been wanting to pursue outside of work but you’ve pushed on the back burner because your career became your sole focus? When it comes to our personal goals or passion projects, we tend to give excuses and tell ourselves we will eventually do it one day. There will never be a right time, the most important thing is to start now. Begin by writing down your personal goals and asking yourself “why” it’s important to you, followed by small actionable steps you can take today. Have courage and pursue your dreams outside of work, and slowly allow it to help you become the best version of yourself. Life’s too short to push your dreams aside. Create the life you want, the time is now.

My proudest moment holding our trophies and when I knew it was all worth it in the end.

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