Do what you love, or work to pay the bills? For triathlete Laura Wood, it wasn't an easy decision

Nov 3, 2019
PHOTO: @laura_wood_nz/Twitter

IT'S NEVER an easy decision choosing between passion or career. Laura Wood was among the many millennials who encountered that fateful crossroads. Should she pursue her dream of becoming a professional triathlete? Or should she stay on her eight-to-five job as a property lawyer?

It wasn't an easy decision to make. For the past five years, from 8:30 in the morning until 5:00 in the afternoon (and sometimes even later than that), she would sit on her desk at the office meeting with clients or taking care of paperwork, while on free days and weekends she would do training.

“I was in a job for three years and the same firm for five years and I was always sitting at work, wising I was in training,” Wood shared to SPIN Life. “So I just had this thought of, what if I put everything into triathlon?”

She knew that, in her case, she wouldn't be able to commit the same dedication ?— or achieve the same success ?— in both. “Basically in law, if you want to make partner you have to work longer than that, you got to work until 7:00 or 8:00 or even later at night,” she said.

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Around this time last year, the 27-year old young professional from New Zealand took a leave from work due to fever, and it was then she realized what she really wanted to do in life.

“I had fever, I was so run down I had no energy to do anything, I had two weeks off work and I was about six weeks of no exercise because my body was so weak,” she recalled. “And, at that time, I kind of realized that training and racing is what I’ve missed the most and I wasn’t missing the work. So I’ve decided that you only live once and I’ve got to do it. So I had it planned out and finished my work in May and it’s been eye opening.”

Swapping her office clothes for a tri-suit, Wood became a full-time professional triathlete.

Many other people did not agree with her decision. She also lost her financial stability. But she knew she made the right choice.

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“Funds are tight, the bank account is definitely going to hurt but I’m much happier with doing what I love and I’m so grateful to be able to do it,” she said.

“It wasn’t ideal but I’m happy, you got to do what you enjoy and looking back at my job I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I’m enjoying this,” she added. “I get to see amazing places like the Philippines. This is my fourth time in the Philippines and I love it so yeah, no regrets.”

When asked if she can say a piece of advice to other people who are at their career crossroads, here’s what Wood had to say.

“Just go for it, take a big risk,” she said. “I’ve been lucky I’ve been able to get a place in each race so I made money [in triathlon]. But you just got to do what makes you happy and take a chance.”

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She continued: “Work will always be there, you can always go back to work, it doesn’t change. There’s always gonna be people who need to buy or sell an house so I know I can go back to work hopefully."

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PHOTO: @laura_wood_nz/Twitter
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