Monday, May 19, 2014

What a way to make a living

It’s Monday again. How do you feel about that? I hope this post finds you content in your career and rewarded in your role. But what if it doesn’t? What if you woke up dreading your day, feeling anxious or just plain bored of the daily grind? Can you actually DO anything about it without burning all of your belongings and running off to live on a Kibbutz? Or, only marginally less radically, going back to study and eating nothing but baked beans and instant noodles for three years straight while learning to enjoy wine in a box?

The answer is yes. You can.

Not too long ago, I made a decision to change direction career-wise. I was afraid of failing, of the financial impact of not working towards a "proper" career and of putting myself out there. I did it anyway, holding my breath all the way. Today, I sit at my desk, forging my "patchwork" career, made up of things I am good at and things I enjoy. It feels amazing to be creating the life I want and to be genuinely doing more of what makes me happy. I did not do it without some small changes, a leap of faith, a little luck and a lot of hard work. But it can be done.

I used to wonder who those people were who did jobs that they loved. It seemed impossible for me then. Watching Escape to the Country or Location Location Location (don’t judge, that stuff is addictive!) I would fair seethe with envy at those people who declared “Oh, I work from home and can live anywhere.” What did these people do for jobs? How did they pay the mortgage? What was their secret? It’s not fair; I want to be free to work anywhere. Harrumph.

Then, one day, I decided to do something about it. My “secret” was to start doing something towards my dream job before I left the old one. In my case that dream was freelance writing and I began by starting this blog. It was incredibly nerve-wracking to offer myself and my words to an unseen reader, knowing that I may get shot down in flames. But I had to try, I couldn’t even begin to dream of writing without actually writing (who’d have guessed) and I needed to be accountable.

My big leap of faith came when I stopped working on my PhD. It was heartbreakingly hard in some ways and breathtakingly easy in others. With my newfound time and lack of guilt (never underestimate the weight of guilt, holding you back) I put myself out there, offering my experience in marketing and PR and scoring some great, ongoing work with wonderful clients. Next came a piece of slightly-engineered luck in the form of a job offer to write for Vintage Caravan Magazine. I say engineered because I sent the editor a link to my blog (having mentioned her fabulous publication in a blog post), she read it and offered me a job. I got lucky, I know that, but without the first small step of my blog, that opportunity could not have presented itself.

Recently I pushed myself again and took a course in writing for magazines and newspapers which gave me the confidence to pitch my article ideas to editors. I sit here today working on a commissioned piece and reflecting upon the journey I took to get here.

It’s not over of course, I need to work hard to keep getting published and to turn writing into my “proper job”. I’m not there yet. But I’m a damn sight closer for having tried.

So maybe today could be the day you start the change in your life. I know it’s hard, when family and money and responsibilities are all massive considerations. But is there something small you could do in your daily life that would be a step towards your dream job? Could you volunteer to do something at work that is more in keeping with the role you want? Sign up for a short course online, just to test the water? Offer your services to somebody already in the field you’d like to join?

Take a little leap of faith and who knows, Mondays may never be the same again.


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