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#1 guineagirl

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 09:25 PM

I am contemplating a career change and would be interested in hearing the forum's views...perhaps now is not the best time to be leaving a steady job, but I've been working in advertising for over 11 years and rather fed up with the commute into central London, the hours and the stress.

My dream is to have a job a bit closer to home, and one which gives me more of the life in my work-life balance!

However it feels a bit like I'm going at it the wrong way round...most people have an idea of their dream job and pursue that as a goal, whereas I don't really know what I want to do, just that I want to do it nearer home, for less hours and am prepared to earn less as a result.

I think I could turn my hand to most administrative work, project management, any office-based work really and don't mind considering part time or freelance work that would give me a breathing space to pursue potential new career routes through volunteering or other routes I haven't had a chance to explore yet.

What I lack, that I'm painfully aware of, is that entrepreneurial spark that leads people to set up their own businesses - I would definitely describe myself as a worker bee who works well with others & collaboratively, can't imagine I'd ever have the drive to set up on my own (or any unique skill that would be my selling point, like photography or design or cookery).

As there are so many freelancers who are active on VN thought it might be a good place to ask for some advice, or even better any ideas of people in CP who might be interested in finding out whether I can help them!

#2 Elmo

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 09:44 PM

I'd be interested in reading replies to this... I think there are a lot of VNers in the same boat at the moment.
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#3 LMcG

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 10:06 PM

I'd be interested in reading replies to this... I think there are a lot of VNers in the same boat at the moment.


Waiting eagerly for the answer too. I've been in advertising for 6 years and I am starting to feel that there must be another way to live my life.

One tip is - work for one of the smaller start-up digital ad companies in Shoreditch (see Wired magazine's article on 'silicon roundabout' for ideas of the kinds of companies cropping up round there.) Then you've got a relaxed 28 minute East London Line journey to Shoreditch High Street which is nothing like commuting into central London, and you can work in a young vibrant company and feel like you're making a real difference.

#4 guineagirl

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 10:12 PM

Thanks LMcG - that's an interesting thought, but I think the young vibrant types would find me a bit of an old-timer!

It's precisely because my interest in the digital side of the job - which I definitely had in spades 10 years ago - has waned that I find myself out of step with my colleagues, I'm just not interested enough in the technical side of thngs to want to get more deeply involved in it than I already am!

Also I live in WN so the overground is still a bus ride or 20 min walk away for me, sadly.

#5 RetiredMember1

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 07:27 AM

You need this brilliant book, which I bought when I changed career!
I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It (available on Amazon).

It has a series of exercises to work through that really help. :)

#6 gekko

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 09:19 AM

Great thread and lots of luck with discovering your new career path guineagirl. I look forward to reading the responses with interest.
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#7 Paulo

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 11:25 AM

Dear guineagirl, I was in exactly the same situation as you 2 years ago. I'd worked in advertising for 16 years and knew deep down that it just wasn't for me anymore and that I needed to change direction. Not long after wrestling with thoughts and ideas similar to yourself a chance of redundancy arose, making my decision to leave much easier. I have spent the last 18 months re-training. I have qualified as a personal development coach and gained essential work experience by volunteering 2 days a week for a drug and alcohol charity where I have been able to develop my new skills and gain an insight into a completely different sector working with an diverse selection of challenging and complex clients.

Career change isn't easy though, especially in this climate hence why I was interested in your post and the subsequent replies from other VN'ers with similar thoughts. I would be very wiling to talk to you further about my experiences and also (if you were interested) offer you some coaching if you thought it may help to explore your current dilemma further. I work in what's called a 'solution focused' way, so i am very much outcome focused rather than trying to analyse the problem.

Feel free to email me: pjwalker22@gmail.com or call me on: 07932 008106.

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#8 guineagirl

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 05:22 PM

Hi Paulo - thanks, your feedback was really interesting!

Like many people in a similar position I would have contemplated the option of a redundancy pay cushion as a kick start to investigate a new career if it was an option, but it wasn't in this case. I do have a supportive partner, though, and some savings so will be doing my best to work out a way of managing everything...

Will be in touch if I would like to discuss any of this in more detail - lots to think about in the mean time.

#9 filmbuffy

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 09:31 AM

wow i think there must be a wave of work life balance disatisfaction going on. I am also in the same situation. work for a charity and been there for 5 years now.
Having moved from central london to WN nearly two years ago now. Along with the lack of motivation for my job and the commute into central london i really would love something closer, 4 days a week rather then 5 and in a different direction.
my prob is im the only income at moment whilst partner is finishing a degree and i think my pay for what i do is slightly inflated in relation to what other organisations are paying for the same role. so am a bit stuck.
+ the fact ive been on leave this week amplifies things alittle and not looking forward to going back and sitting behind a desk again next week. plus my colleague and friend is leaving... so i wont be working with people i like...
i think i am not great an evaluating my own skills though and find it hard to put into words what i do and what i am good at.
would be good to hear from others who have done this and how.

#10 Spoon

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 02:17 PM

Have been away from VN for a while due to exactly this situation so this is a delayed reply but here are my thoughts and recent experience.

My career took an unwelcome direction, which was out of my hands, and I have just spent two years all at sea, with no rudder and becoming increasingly unhappy. I could do the work no problem and there were a few perks such as really interesting travel but the roles themselves didnít offer what I knew and loved. I even ended up in Holborn last year in a job I didnít want just to get away from the one before and Holborn is, for me as a Palace-dweller and a home-body, a nasty little commute. And with only a job I was miserable in waiting for me at the other end and no way out. To cap it all, because the last job on my CV said I was doing one thing, it was all I seemed to get put forward for too. I couldnít see an obvious way through the fog.

The solution. Things came to a head in January and I resigned from the job where I was really quite unhappy on almost every level (the one exception was nice direct colleagues). Unbeknown to me when I made my announcement, I was on three monthsí notice and was asked to stay as long as possible so it turned out I had time to think but I did go into the resignation with my eyes open and prepared to be without work for a time if I had to be. The relief at knowing I was going and that the end was in sight was instant. The light at the end of the tunnel flared brightly into view. I canít really describe it.

I looked around for the same things as you, guineagirl, a shorter week, closer to Ė or at Ė home, a change of direction (though I actually wanted to go back into what Iíd been doing before it all went off-piste in 2009). I considered a complete change or making more of a hobby but none of it would have given me the same security or preferred professional development I have now. I needed a compromise.

Within the month, the lack of stress and the decision to bide my time seemed to lead me to look at things outside the confines of where I was and the confidence to get back to where I wanted to be. I found a role I genuinely liked instead of one the last job on my CV qualified me for (which agencies latched on to, annoyingly) and went for it. I got it. I couldnít quite believe it but the same thing happened to a friend Ė got stuck in a rut, thought heíd be silly to give it up but became increasingly dissatisfied and unhappy, checked finances and resigned in the end regardless then found a new, ideal job almost straight away due to a change in outlook and being more relaxed.

I started last week and so far itís all lovely (starting in a national three-day week Ė whatís not to like?!). My compromise was to take a job that for now pays a bit less but which has real potential to fit me professionally and to recover the drop, with a better commute and the opportunity to work from home regularly. Though itís still a full-time role, partly working from home takes the stress off for me as I find a lot to do and am very happy being at Spoon Towers, plus Iím studying part-time, which I began in earnest yesterday having stalled on it for a while when I was so unhappy before and getting home late.

My advice is, if you can, take yourself out of the stressful work situation and the fog will lift. Put aside some dosh so you have a buffer that will allow you to take a risk. Take a pay drop if need be to get up to speed in what you want to do - you'll make it back again and in the meantime, if you need to, you can cut something else out. I know itís easier said than done Ė and indeed this is the first time Iíve had the guts to do it (older and wiser and no longer prepared to get an ulcer just to make somebody elseís next £million) Ė but the effects are amazing.

#11 gekko

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 02:56 PM

Wow, what an inspiring story Spoon and I'm really glad it's all worked out for you. Working from home, even one day a week, can make a huge difference. I have a commute to work that can take an hour and a half and found it was really getting me down. A few years ago, I started to work from home on Fridays and it's made a real difference.

Also, I know what you mean about the last job on your CV being the only one that employers or agencies notice. Three years ago, I took a job (in the same organisation I was working in) that was a bit of a side step - more business and technically-oriented rather than editorial. I'd been in my old department for several years and wanted to expand my skillset and explore new directions.

Whilst I've gained valuable experience I've realised this isn't the direction I want my career to take. Also, it's a small team with zero chance of career progression unless I leave the organisation. Externally, my career options would probably be very good but it's just not for me. However, I've found applying for jobs back in my old field a challenge as I tend to fall through a crack where I'm now no longer considered to be an editorial expert but also lack the sufficient technical background to be able to seriously compete there. When I took the job, I thought that I'd be enhancing my editorial skillset but it does feel that hiring managers are rather closed minded and suspicious of a decision to spend a few years working in a different area. I've learnt to edit my CV very carefully and play down things that I see as an asset but that may stop potential employers from reading further.

Thanks for sharing your story Spoon :).

Edited by gekko, 03 May 2011 - 02:59 PM.

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#12 Ziwa

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 05:13 PM

The light at the end of the tunnel flared brightly into view. I canít really describe it.


You've described it perfectly, inspiringly.
(I'm not at this stage at the moment, but hope I can call Spoon's eloquent description to mind when I need it).

#13 guineagirl

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 09:17 PM

Thank you everyone for these very thoughtful & supportive comments - I definitely feel the light at the end of the tunnel is there (partly due to knowing a holiday is booked and already paid for when I leave my job!)

Reading all this, I've been inspired to get back in the saddle and start looking at what I might do next; the day to day slog of my current job does make me less inclined to get back online in the evenings and plough through application forms or job applications, but tonight I took a different angle and looked for volunteering opportunities - and found at least 3 things I'm interested in following up on.

PS Spoon - I've been commuting to Holborn the entire time I've lived in the Norwood area - agreed, a nasty little commute! The hour or so into work does give me a bit of useful thinking/reading time, but knowing that what's waiting for you at the other end is a desk you don't really want to be at, means a sense of dread sinks in as Waterloo approaches. I'm very much looking forward to that feeling being a thng of the past.

#14 Squirk

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 01:35 PM

I was made redundant a couple of years ago and I had a month or so of turmoil as I adjusted to the change (I'd been in that job for nine years, and mostly in Holborn, too), but then I rejoiced in the variety of possibilities I could turn my mind to. It worked out fine, luckily, and I'm now working three days a week for a company on the Strand and I work freelance for two (sometimes three!) days a week. I love that I can work at home on my freelance days. The change of scene in general has done me the world of good and I feel more in control of my work-life.

I really hope it all goes well for you. Lots of luck!

#15 SpringBok

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 07:27 PM

Guineagirl...if you have a supportive partner and the ability to make change then do it!

I was in EXACTLY the same position until recently - I quit an extremely stressful job before Christmas. I had deliberated about it for months but after things just got worse at work - working weekends, nights and holidays to keep on top of my workload, I decided enough was enough I could easily have gone to the doctor's and been signed off with stress but I saw instead an opportunity to take up some of those things I have never gotten around to. I now know it was the best decision I could have made but I am lucky because my husband was willing to support me in this. I immediately took up stained glass making and cake decorating courses at Bromley Adult education centre, I see friends for lunch every week and I am project managing the refurbishment of our basement. I am pretty rubbish at both the courses, but it has been a great creative outlet for me and I have let off all steam that had been building in me and I love meeting all the different types of people that attend instead of people obsessed with making money in a corporate environment.

In two month's time I will have to evaluate more long term steps including perhaps starting my own business in the triangle and doing some voluntary work, or finding a three day a week job relatively local to home. I love being near or at home these days!

So whatever you do, good luck...I can thoroughly recommend early 'retirement' or career break!

PS I did this with no money whatsoever, just credit card bills that my poor husband now has to pay off. The other thing about working is that it costs so much to go to work, what with the commuting, Starbucks coffees, lunches and drinks after work (and clothes shopping if you are unfortunate enough to work near Oxford Street!)

Edited by SpringBok, 18 May 2011 - 07:29 PM.