I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about what it means to be ‘wholehearted’. When I came up with the name Wholeheartedly Healthy, it just felt perfect, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. Coming across Brene Brown’s 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living a couple of years later made everything suddenly make sense. This is what living life wholeheartedly looks like, including and beyond health.
One of those signposts is meaningful work, and what I’m delighted to see in so many women who are part of the Wholeheartedly Healthy community is a change in careers. Having been in the position of not being lit up 100% by my work and then conciously changing my career has been one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. Too many of us work in jobs that suck out our soul, but thankfully the opportunities we have to change that are growing, especially for women.
To briefly tell you my story, I studied Art and Design at University and then volunteered at a local councils Arts Development department whilst also working at a Housing Association to pay the bills. When my relationship ended with my then boyfriend I found a new job working in a community centre in the west end of Newcastle and spent a couple of years working with and in community centres and liasing with community groups being employed by Newcastle City Council. Then I got a job in County Durham in another community centre which then went on to close, followed by another local authority job as a play development officer. I started an MA at Durham University in Community and Youth work (which included topics like social work, psychology, empowerment, teaching and politics), become employed as a Project Development Manager at a charity and worked their for 5 years until my project funding ended and I started this gig full time! During that 5 years I also trained in NLP and CBT as part of my work.
Now I have to say, my previous work was not terrible, but I would find myself saying ‘there has to be more to life than this’ on a regular basis. When I found that the blog was going well and I had this new passion for healthy living, that was when I decided to study with IIN with the view to continuing to work with community groups and young people. I even started a Community Interest Company with my old boss and we delivered a few wonderful projects with some amazing community groups. When I found out I was pregnant I knew I’d be looking for more flexibility and decided to do less community projects and more 1-2-1 coaching, digital products and courses.
And that kind of brings you up to date! My transition from working full time self employed to completely self employed (or rather, employed through my Limited Company) was about two years from studying with IIN to leaving my old job, so I took it slowly.
I’m offering you these tips from my own experience and I’m no careers coach, but I do hope that these give you some things to think about if you’re ready for a change!
Ask yourself what you really, really want
If you feel like you need a change in career, it’s time to get really honest with yourself and ask what it is you really want. What’s your passion? What lights you up? In an ideal world, what would your new career look like?
Work backwards from that vision, what do you need to get there?
More often than not, there may be some need to retrain and go back to studying. What are the options available to you? Do you need to tweak your vision to bring it in line with what’s possible training wise? How can you utilise your existing skills and knowledge? My vision from the start was about melding my existing expertise in empowering communities and running successful projects with coaching people around healthier lifestyles. It’s also really important to note here that you may have a vision of wanting to be a nutritionist but can’t afford / have the time to study for a degree in Nutrition, in which case this is where you have to be clear on the scope of what other training options allow you to do.
Get help from a careers coach / coach that can help you in your area
I always think that with any big life change it can be important to seek help and get coaching if possible. There’s a number of coaches out there who specialise in change of career and getting some coaching from them could be a huge help.
Practice it / research it
If you have the opportunity to do so, it could be helpful to practice your new career idea. You can definitely change things up as you go along, but having a taster at this new kind of work before committing to it completely might help you feel more comfortable with the change and know that this is definitely what you want. Volunteering can be a great way to give your new career a test drive. It also goes without saying, research, research, research! Really digging into this new area of work, the current jobs market, the trends, others who are practising it etc is very helpful to make sure you’re going into it fully informed.
Have a transition plan in place
I had a clear transition plan in place for my switch from employment to self employment including a financial cushion. It’s important to have a realistic plan in place that doesn’t rush things. It will be worth it in time, you just need to keep the faith!
I know how scary it can feel at the start of this journey, but as someone who’s been there and done it I can honestly say it’s so worth it. I’ve been fortunate enough to create a career and business of my dreams and every single day I feel like a lucky bitch!
For more reading I love Emma Ward’s blog The Freelance Lifestyle for lots of tips and support if freelancing is something you’re considering, and I also love Do What You Love for a totally comprehensive look at how you can live your life more in line with your passions.
If this topic has been of interest to you, check out my Be Ready Now Guide – especially for anyone considering a switch into the online wellbeing industry!
Have you ever considered a change in career? If you’ve been through a career change, have you any other tips?