This last year has been tough and I’d go as far as saying mentally exhausting if I’m honest with myself. Frequently, I would stare hopelessly out of the window wondering if I’m cut out for this all but too scared to make a change.
It’s hard to admit to yourself that maybe this career path isn’t right for you.
You never hear slow and career being used in the same sentence especially if, like me, you work in the fast-paced tech industry. Generally, humans are programmed to follow a certain path of education, work, family and a mortgage with a keen eye on their pension. It can be confusing if, also like me, you choose not to walk that path. I didn’t even try! I had a bad attitude towards education and I didn’t sit my qualifications. However, at 17, I found I had the foundations to become a good copywriter and a flair for digital savviness. My business happened by accident.
In September, I celebrated 10 years as a freelance content writer, social media manager, and digital trainer. It was a bittersweet workaversary. I’ve put great effort to get to where I am. It’s enabled me to move to a place full of beauty, it’s given me an invaluable skill set and provided me with the freedom and creativity I have needed. Yet, being constantly switched on has been draining and an ongoing battle with lack of rural internet has nearly driven me to the point of combustion!
A friend suggested that it may be time for a change but I was horrified at that prospect. What – give up?! Their comment nagged away at my gut. Deep down I knew they were on to something…
I was dealing with a lot of feelings that revolved around ungratefulness. I hated that I was not giving my clients what they needed and I knew there were people out there who could do a better job. I felt like a fraud.
There’s a whole host of reasons as to why we cling on to things that are not right for us: fear of the unknown, the need to pay the bills and keep up appearances. All of which applied to me.
I suddenly had the urge to do something, to initiate change. I went about it a bit like a bull in a china shop! It didn’t work out well. It left me feeling even more disappointed, with myself mainly but I began to blame others too. That’s not the person I am or intend on becoming.
Something positive did come from this turmoil and that was realising I’d needed this change far longer than I’d originally thought. It made me all the more determined to inspire that change.
It was still all such a mess.
I had to go back to basics and look at the source of the problem.
I kept mentally affirming that ‘ I would no longer put up with these conditions’ and committed fully to that affirmation.
As I mentioned earlier, lack of internet was one of the main concerns. After two years of searching for affordable, internet and dog-friendly desk space (quite specific requirements I’m sure you’ll agree) and having no luck, like magic, a desk space became available in Llangollen (4 miles from my house). I flew at the chance to take it. Interestingly, it was an option always there but my attentional filters were only focused on the problem. It’s fascinating how stress can close us off to solutions.
I’ve only been there for 2 months but in that short amount of time, the pressure has greatly reduced. I’ve been able to work to my standard and I feel on top of things instead of them being on top of me! I’m ever so thankful that my clients have stayed with me. Changing my environment has meant I’ve got some mental rest at home and it’s allowed me question whether it was a change of career I needed or was it simply a change of how I ran by business?
Deep down I know the transition will slowly come but I feel like I’m not running from a desperate situation and it’s easier to envision a happier future.
Secondly, it occurred to me that I’d not studied anything new for nearly a decade ( other than work skills). I haven’t done anything for utter enjoyment. Over the years I’d convinced myself that learning anything new outside of my work skills, meant I’d be distracted and not committed to what I did for a living. More recently. I’ve learned that thought pattern developed to cover up my deep down need for some kind of change. I’ve had to do a lot of self-soothing and since doing so, I’ve found myself drawn to a yoga teacher training home-study course. I plan to add a bunch of outdoor qualifications to help me fulfill my passion for the outdoors in a professional capacity.
I come at this change from a place of slow and as I feel my immediate situation is calm, there’s no need to make hasty decisions.
Tips for a Slow Career Transition
1. Be grateful for the smallest of moments
I’m in a lucky position now where I like what I do for a living. There are so many aspects to be grateful for. I know those who work for someone else can struggle in this area but gratitude makes way for bigger and better things. Consider keeping a gratitude journal or starting a daily social media post and get others to contribute. Doing so allows us to keep small moments of loveliness when things in your mind look a bit dark.
2. Remember it’s easier to transition into something new whilst you’ve got something to support you
The most obvious one is money here. I’ve chosen a life of less but we all still need a basic level to look after ourselves. It’s also easier if you have the money to pay for further training and qualifications. You may not adore what you do for a living but it prevents us from worrying about the bills. You certainly can’t do something just for the money but when your basic needs are met, you can shift your attention on to thriving.
3. Talk to other people in the same boat as you
It’s been hard for me to talk to Rik about this kind of stuff because he’s been in his job for 18 years and swears he loves it. I tend to notice a difference in mindset between self-employed and employed so it can be hard when either one of you is trying to offer advice. That’s not to say you can’t take value from their advice.
Luckily, my best friend is self-employed and many of my other friends are too. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some fantastic contacts on the likes of Instagram who continue to inspire me. Never underestimate the power of online communities.
Remember, It’s OK to not want to do the same thing for the rest of your life, equally it’s OK to do the same thing for the rest of your life if that’s what you truly want.
4. Take all the time you need
Like everything in life, we all have our own circumstances. I come from a point of view where I’ve no real family or mortgage commitments. The common aspect we all share though is the desire to be happy. We all make excuses about why we can’t change our reality and some have more pressing circumstances that require attention to detail and more planning. All that matters is your happiness because those closest to you suffer greatly if you’re not truly happy.
It’s taken me years to finally get to a stage where I feel clearer about going forward and the point is, it doesn’t matter how long it takes just breath deeply through it all.
I’ll leave you with one last thought from a good friend of mine.
“Deep breathing is fantastic. Helps calm anxiety – you can’t be anxious and slow breath at the same time, so it helps to communicate to the brain that the ‘fight or flight’ response isn’t needed.”