For those who worry that they are at a loose end or are doing things unconventionally, or differently to their friends, let me share my story with you and hopefully I can shed some light on some of the choices you may or may not be making next year. I would say a vast majority of my friends are in stable careers, with steady paths that they are following. For those who are doing what they love and their career choices are working for them, then huge kudos. I am sure there are many people envious of your position. The flip side of that will be people also in steady careers that they loathe, or perhaps just ‘aren’t doing it for them’. You have choices and taking the plunge to change your course of action can be somewhat daunting, especially if it goes against the status quo. So perhaps this might be a new outlet of hope for you.
How I have come to this particular point in my life wasn’t exactly glamorous. I was in a job last year I could not have loathed more. Despite my degree and 4 years of content and communications under my belt I was the glorified ‘office bitch’. Scanning, printing and daily runs to pick up coffees- I cannot say my brain was exactly stimulated. We’re all expected to do grunt work in our lives but in all honesty, that job meant I was going backwards in my professional career rather than forwards. Underwhelmed, unfulfilled and just unhappy, it was my side passion that actually kept me mentally stimulated. I wanted to dedicate more time to this side passion rather than come back exhausted after my not so exhausting day- I was mentally drained from being mentally stunted. I believed this side passion had something in it that I could turn into something more than just a passion. So, it came to a point where I had to make a decision- stay in my lacklustre career or find a job which would allow me to commit to my side passion properly. My lease was ending on my house in London, so I wasn’t obligated to stay there anymore. I really didn’t have much to lose- other than perhaps my pride- so I left.
My new role was working as a live-in nanny outside of London. Sounds a bit random, bearing in mind I had zero experience with children, but it allowed me to have the kind of freedom to really map out what I wanted to do. A standard day would look something like this:
- Wake up> take the boys to school
- Work from the home office and spend 6-7 hours working on my passion
- Pick up the boys> cook dinner
Whilst friends and family did ‘support’ this idea, they weren’t convinced of what I was doing; and if I am totally honest, neither was I. However, allowing myself to have ‘the time’, was hugely beneficial to me. I was able to talk to people at normal times of the day, as opposed to after work, and turn these into feasible working relationships. I was able to research and write, whilst making future plans that I hoped would turn into future truths. I wasn’t paying for rent or food and I lived with a great family.
Did I find it difficult coming into London at the weekends and telling people that I was now a nanny? Yes, I did. I remember bumping into someone, who very kindly told me that we were just ‘at such different places in our lives’.
Thanks mate– I am perfectly aware.
I am not slating nannying as a profession- it takes a lot of hard work, energy and above all patience- but to those that didn’t know me, it just appeared on the surface that I was having a career crisis and had done a complete U-turn. Anyhow, after Christmas, having laid the foundations of my passion down, I waved goodbye to the family, headed back to London and took on a full-time job, alongside putting my plans into action. I was here for 6 months and I really did like my job and I loved my boss; it was a stable and safe career choice and I could have happily and easily worked my way up quickly. However, the passion project was now getting demand from third parties that I just couldn’t ignore, which again put me in a position where I had to make a choice. So, again I left my job (stability) and took on freelance roles (ha-definitely not stability initially!) to focus on something that made me truly happy.
Just by chance, a month into freelancing I bumped into someone on the tube who told me about a business accelerator called Escape the City, which I consequently joined that very week in time for its start date. It was one of the best decisions I have made this year and it fit around my working 9-5 day of freelancing. I was suddenly with an entire crew of like-minded people and their business passions. Some had come with just ideas and some were already fully-fledged businesses, but what we all had in common was we wanted to have the tools, structure and knowledge to take ourselves to the next level. It was a total rollercoaster but I couldn’t be at the place where I am now without them. It made me grateful for sticking to my guns and pursuing the thing that made me happy- despite the fact that to others, my decisions were somewhat questionable.
I think it can sometimes be difficult to choose to do your own thing, to go off the beaten path and to stay off the beaten path for a while, whilst you commit to whatever it is. There will be days of self-doubt and angst, but this is common with most big decisions, whoever makes them. So what if it fails and you have wasted precious months working your way ‘up the ladder’? I promise you, that will have gained so much more in ways you wouldn’t have before and you will know yourself a whole lot better too. I am so proud of the things I have done this year. It’s been a year and half of steady grafting and making difficult career choices, but I strongly believe making these choices were essential for me to get to the place where I am today. I am extremely excited about 2018 and what lies ahead.
And finally, to the person who told me that we were in such different places, thank you, because I agree. We really are.
Twenty Mile Cub