After the role of Network Radio Producer working on 7 shows a week across 38 stations, I changed career into another equally creative, live show stressful environment - events!
Working under pressure for a number of years in these roles, whilst I loved them, they came at a price. I was working long unsociable hours with responsibilities, always feeling like I was at the mercy of emails and never feeling like time was my own. This obviously had an affect on my personal life.
I had my internal chatter saying I should be grateful for what I’ve got, I’ve worked hard to get where I am, I’ve got a brilliant life, and a lot better off than most.
I had nothing to complain about, so why was I feeling lost and not certain about my direction? I knew in myself; this wasn’t it for me.
So when I hit ‘burnout’, aka Extreme Fatigue, as written by my Dr on the sick note, I thought I had just committed career suicide. (yep, the fear had that much of a grip around me!).
Off sick and on my sofa, with no energy to drive, make a coffee or have a shower some days, it was a frightening time to say the least and one I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I had super supportive friends around me, and my employers were also very good to me. But ultimately, I had a decision to make, it was them or me in this fight for survival.
I knew I wanted to work for myself, but how or where would I even begin? I felt the full affect of fear, I was single with big financial responsibilities, the same as most other people. A mortgage, bills, debt, a car to keep on the road, thankfully only the one mouth to feed!
But I knew I had survived all this time ok on my own, through two redundancies with the unknowing and uncertainty they brought, so I knew I could do it again if I were to leave the comfort of my monthly pay check and start my own business.
I played out the worst case scenarios in my head, and said what if this or that happened, then I would handle it like this, and I would take this action. It would be ok. I knew I would still be fine. I was a survivor, and had the evidence to prove it.
I had realised towards the end of my period off sick, I had woken up to life at age 37, pressed pause on the treadmill and wondered how the hell I had arrived at this point without me really noticing how!
6 weeks later and a phased return back to work, I caught myself at my desk just staring through a spreadsheet, I wasn’t engaged or interested in the work. It was not lighting my fire in any way, shape or form. My spark was long gone, but I still had that inner knowing that I had more to give and my talents were not being utilised. I had great colleagues and a supportive employer but the bottom line remained that I wanted to work for myself, and I needed to in order to live my life how I wanted to.
Sat at my desk I was overcome with an immense feeling of energy in my gut, and my intuition almost propelled me out of my seat where I marched to HR and told them I was done, and that I needed to get out of my 3-month notice period. Bit of negotiation, and done. It is a moment I will never forget. I had the sense of impending freedom and knew I would survive.
When it really started to turn around though was when I invested in myself, I started peeling off the layers, like an onion, and uncovered who I really was again, what I wanted, and how I would build that.
I don’t think I had ever invested in myself like that before. Instead, I was relaxing in front of the TV with wine acting as my prop and feeling like it was a plaster for my wounds, or I was going out for after work drinks or most social occasions. At the time it was great fun, but I knew it wasn’t doing me any good. Where was I heading? I was drifting. I knew that I didn’t want to be doing this in another 2/3/5 years’ time.
I knew I had it in me to work for myself, and believed I could do it. My skills, expertise and experience had delivered for employers and clients over the years, and I had even won several awards to boost my confidence to get going. I started my events business, and focused on getting freelance jobs and project work, and I would figure out the business side as I went along.
I found ways to make money to ease the pressure straight away, I rented out my spare room and my parking space. I didn’t take holidays other than to visit family. I said no to a lot of social engagements. I knew the small sacrifices would be worth it, after all I had continuously made sacrifices for my employers, and this time it was more important - my future. My priorities had shifted.
I found my network and got out there, a lot. Within 2 weeks I had three clients. One of which I met in a hot air balloon! In some ways saying yes to the right opportunities can really work out well. It’s knowing what ones to say yes and no to. Intuition plays a big part.
How I got over the fear was a progressive and sometimes emotionally painful journey. No one said it was easy. But I knew the pain of my employment existence was greater than the excitement of my potential untold adventure.
If you are at the point of wanting a different future working for yourself but find yourself a bit lost floating around not really heading in any direction, then please start investing in yourself. Time, effort, energy, cash, you do for everyone else right? So why not you?
Everything starts with you, without you there is no one to be there for because there’ll be nothing left of you. No one wants to see you exhausted, tired, and ill, they love you and want you to have the best life.
If you have dreams that you want fulfilled, take the time. Read, listen to podcasts, watch videos, do a course, or get a coach to have the 1-1 support. You deserve it. We know we only get one life, it’s important to live it on purpose and follow your heart. I didn’t have all the answers when I took the leap into the unknown, but I did have one - that I would survive. That was enough to get me one step towards my goal of freedom and working for myself. The rest I would figure out as I went along, and I did.
3 years later I am living the life I dreamed off. I have my own business doing meaningful work, I am able to work from anywhere; and am currently in the French Alps with my love, which is also a great place to be for my asthma aside from the scenery! I have a home near my family in the UK who I now visit regularly and I get to travel.
Three years ago, my health, my relationships and my personal life suffered, and now my life has transformed because I was intentional about it. I started to live, and not carry on existing in the misery I had created. I have freedom, love, and joy in my life. Three things I certainly did not have three years ago on the sofa with zero energy!
Take inspiration from me, and know that it is possible, but it requires action on your part and us humans have a tendency to be lazy. I know when people are at my funeral I don’t want them to remember me for being lazy, unfulfilled in my career but committed to my employer!
Below are the steps I took, try some of them or find something else that works for you that makes you feel good.
- Found a mindfulness course
- I dealt with the past and the pain of my mother’s death that I had buried for 13 years
- I unhinged myself from toxic relationships and energy vampires
- Found the courage to say no and put boundaries around my time
- Spent more time with family
- Spent time on myself every day by checking in and learning to meditate or be quiet for 5-10 minutes a day
- Took a course
- Got a coach
- Read heaps of books
- Watched a lot of inspiring videos
- Asked myself a lot of questions, regularly!
Where do I want to be in 12 months’ time? What lit me up at the end of the week, I mean really lit me up. What drained me? What do I want more of in my life?
- Got clear on how I wanted my future to look
- Figured out a path how to reach each small milestone and took actions steps towards it every week
- I edited what I said to my family and friends. Word of advice - when starting a business, only talk to those who have been there, on that path and know what it is like. Everyone else will think you’re crazy and not understand the sacrifices you make. Stay strong!
It dawned on me later the risk I had taken, and I set to work on my own financial budgeting spreadsheets and knew I could survive for a few months. Of course it was scary as hell, but in my gut was this overwhelming feeling of excitement and me saying this is it, I’m so ready for it, and now it feels like the right time. It was and still is - brills!
This is YOUR life. No one else’s. Don’t compare yourself to others. I’m an avid fan of following your heart, if you are not lit up in the work you do, it’s time for change. We spend so much of our time working, don’t you want to enjoy it, and create the life you want to live? It is possible. You deserve to be happy, fulfilled, and have everything you desire.
Always, always keep your dreams in sight, and believe you can achieve them. It takes a few tools, knowledge and expertise but you can - let me show you how and support you.
Book a call today to see how you can take one step closer to reaching them.
Taking action is powerful, and you DO have the power to change your life. YOU are in charge of it, there is no bigger force that has control over you, and because we’re in 2016, we can follow our own path and not what our parents have in mind for us. There is no safe secure job anymore, and who is to say where we’ll be in another 10 years’ time employment wise - the world is moving at such a pace.