When the career you had, isn't the career you want.....what are you to do...
Chatting to a gorgeous friend this morning on yet another dog walk got me thinking about the process that we go through in order to change our careers from the thing that we have been doing for an age, to a thing that is unknown, when you are no longer a spring chicken. The discussion started because this friend dreams of moving from her established and successful career, to do the hobby that she loves, as a business. We started by discussing the one thing that can often hold us back from stepping in to the unknown, money.
Yes, we all have a minimum that we need to earn, but that isn't the same thing as looking at what you currently earn. If I was to remind myself of the salary I used to earn in Investment Banking, I would likely cry myself to sleep most nights. That is, if it was all about the money and not about changing from doing a job that in the end meant nothing to something that meant everything....You have to simply take that daily rate and kick it up in the air, far far away. For me, I was very much an 'all or nothing' kind of person (still am), so the thought of side hustling to find my creative outlet, and start the business, growing it organically behind the scenes wasn't an option, plus I don't have time on my hands. It was a case of, resign first, find the premises and open a shop.....and work out what you are good at, as you progress along the journey. I blame it all on the time I received a red plastic cash register for a birthday present (as I child may I add), that the idea of opening up a shop was cemented. But, it doesn't have to be that immediate, there are so many ways in which you can create a little business on the side or change your job to be more fulfilling.
If you were to chat to many a life coach, they will first tell you to take a blank sheet of paper and describe the ideal, without any of the restrictions that exist, but being the dreamer I am, often means the blank piece of paper will include such extreme ideals, that the enormity of the dream can feel too big. Often breaking the ideal down in to bite sized chunks, makes the dream feel a little more achievable. I often hear from people who want to make the change, including all the obstacles that are stopping them from moving forward. I could have listed to 100 obstacles before leaving a secure, well paid, rewarding job which happened to have the best boss. If I hadn't taken the plunge, my life would be very different and I would not have discovered all these new skills, that I knew deep down existed. But without a job that needed to utilise such skills, they would have gone undiscovered by me.
If you have an idea, you must explore it, and see if you are able to side hustle for a little bit. This may mean making stuff in the garden shed or volunteering in your chosen field. There are so many outlets now for like-minded people to meet and chat and explore their ideas. Talking for me, is the best kind of therapy and has created a number of different opportunities and collaborations through simply discussing ideas. There are some brilliant Facebook groups, an inspiring community on Instagram and really helpful and informative podcasts with little tips on how to get started. Also some brilliant books available to get your head into. Plus, some phenomenal technical platforms which make the job of branding, marketing and E-commerce that much easier.
A lovely way to start thinking about your business / job idea is to create a visual moodboard. You can start with a digital Pinterest board, but it's also lovely if you can print the images out and place on a board, as it feels more real. I am just in the process of creating a new brand and this is exactly the process I have followed. I have used Coolers.co to create the brand colours, Canva.com to mock up logo ideas and Pinterest to form ideas around the visuals. Then I chatted to the brilliant Saskia Frost, for her thoughts. Someone I have never met, but who I admire a lot from afar, and I knew she could help me... find those people whose opinions you trust...it really helps.
I am a little bit of a researcher and I like to consume as much information about an idea as possible, so I have listened to many podcasts, read a number of books (not to the end of course), and done a couple of online courses. I did Simple and Season /Campfire Course and Xanthe Berkeley, Film Making course, which I loved and still making my way through the film making. I have found the most useful thing that I have done is attend face to face workshops and meet-ups. I was lucky enough to go to the Flo Show workshop in Burgundy in 2018, which will always be up there, in terms of finding inspiration, from the fellow attendees to the brilliant teachers. Plus, I attended an Instagram workshop with Sam Burgess and a Photography workshop with 91 Magazine. Both brilliant and so helpful meeting like-minded creatives, going through a similar journey. Seek out the local meet-ups that are happening in your area. We have a small meet-up on a Thursday morning at Wattle & Daub in Godalming for fellow creatives, thinkers, doers, businesses and brands to pop along to, to gain inspiration and ideas.
There are many positives to starting things later in life, yes there is still anxiety, the constant questioning of whether you are good enough, but you have a wealth of life experience behind you, with all the one-liners to go with it, just in case you meet any haters along the way. You know what is important in life, plus you know you only have a finite amount of time to prove you are good at something and make a success of it.
Something I probably didn't do enough of when I started out, was thinking about where my strengths lie. Although my old life was very different, there were many hints within that old career that should have allowed me to see more clearly how these strengths would transition within this new journey, and also where the weaknesses could impact my success and put in place preventative measures (but that would have been organised!). I have self diagnosed myself with dyslexia, after many years of struggling with multi tasking and various other areas that play out with dyslexia. Mr Wattle finds that quite amusing and seems to think it is just an excuse for making him do all my bank reconciliations, but he just does it so well. Its painful when he keeps asking me for receipts from boot sales!!!! Especially as I keep it all for myself anyway. I suppose when you do everything yourself, you cannot rely on someone else within the business to cover your weaknesses, which is obviously the benefit in setting up a new business with a partner. But the reality is, I am far too controlling for a partner.
Rather than seeing the restrictions as obstacles, consider how you will work with both strengths and weaknesses within your business, considering what tasks you may need to outsource and get help with.
During our walk (it got deep on this walk), we discussed what success looks like now, as a person starting out later in life. What does success look like to you?? Having more time with your children, being your own boss, earning X amount of money, creating a slower pace of life. Only you know what success looks like to you....and will motivate you to make the change. Often comparing the life you have/had to the one you want to create, is like comparing apples and pears. And remember just starting to think about that idea, is the first step forward.
I will leave you with a Brene Brown quote.
“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.”
And finally...a wise lady once told me....
'don't judge your start by someone else's middle'........
Online tools, Podcasts and Books I have found helpful along this journey......
Canva.com - just the most brilliant tool for creating marketing material
Coolers.co - like a slot machine for generating colour combos
Shopify.co.uk - E-commerce site
Squarespace.com - The website platform I used
Ghost.org - The blog platform I used
Lightroom/Adobe - Where i edit all my pics, both on pc and android phone
Holly Tucker - Stories of Inspiration
Sam Burgess - Small & Mighty
Letters from a Creative, Jen Carrington & Sara Tasker
Employee to Entrepreneur, Chris Garden and Catherine Blackburn
Bluffers Guide to Social Media....Just for a laugh if nothing else.
You do You, Sarah Knight