How I changed my approach to work

A belated Happy New Year! I have been having an extended blogging break over Christmas, but am now back with lots of ideas and projects on the go.

I went to an event in central London earlier this week, called Live Your Legend Local. There were about 50 people there. We all introduced ourselves and told our stories. And there was a common thread running through them all. We’d all realised (recently or a few years ago) that the work we were doing wasn’t satisfying us, there was something missing from our lives. And we all wanted to rectify that and do something that we loved doing, something with a purpose, and to know that were in control of making that happen.

I realised on that evening what my own pivotal career change moment was. In 2007, I went to see a recruitment consultant. I was in a full time permanent job at the time, had been doing it for 2 years and wanted to move on. He asked me what I wanted to do. I said that I wanted variety, to work in a different industry from the one I was in, that I enjoyed travel, and I liked working with charities. He asked me a slightly different question on the same theme, and I started explaining how with my degree and my marketing qualification and 11 years experience I could use that to….. And then he stopped me and said “forget about what you’ve done before. What do you really want to do?” And I burst into tears. Because I didn’t know.

Since then, I’ve had career coaching from a number of coaches, done lots of short courses, been to interesting talks, read inspiring books, been made redundant (which was a good thing), volunteered for a charity, and started doing contracts instead of permanent roles. All of these experiences have contributed to my knowledge of myself and what I want to be doing.

But I think the Screw Work Let’s Play 30 Day Challenge was the thing that really moved me forwards. The idea is that you pick a project to do for 30 days, along with a group of other people. You choose something that will produce an end result, that you can share with people, and that’s based around something you enjoy and think you might like to do more often. I chose to create a blog and write on it every day. I did it and it led me onto other ideas and realisations about what I enjoyed and needed to be doing, and how I wanted to achieve that.

Red kite soaringThe reason that the 30DC worked for me was because of the people and because it involved taking action. I’m still in touch with some of the people I did that challenge with in May 2012, and we meet up and chat on email and Skype sometimes, encouraging each other with new ideas, and coming up with ways round barriers we have encountered.

I’m a researcher, an analyser, a thinker – so I have in the past gone round in circles coming up with new career options, then researching them and dismissing them. I’m now totally converted to the idea of taking action on an idea, trying things out – and seeing what’s fun, what works, what I like about the project, what gets people interested. It refines your ideas, helps you try out new things, and moves you away from the despair of not knowing into the realms of opportunity and possibility.

In October 2013 I became self-employed/freelance/a business owner 🙂 So I am now responsible for creating my own income. Which is scary. But exciting and with an amazing sense of freedom. The great thing about being able to choose is that I can still do some freelance work in an area I’m familiar with, involving people I know I enjoy working with, but I can also experiment with getting income in other ways. I’m in the process of getting to know local business people and finding new projects and collaborators in my local area. And I’m also exploring my creativity with small writing and photography projects, for my own enjoyment.

The most important thing I have learned in the last few years is that things evolve and change. The business portfolio I have now won’t be the same in a year. I’ll have discarded some things, I’ll have added others, I’ll have met new collaborators, I’ll have bought many more URLs…. But as long as I have like-minded people to bounce ideas off and collaborate with, I’ll be able to find interesting opportunities and continue on this path. I’ll also be able to have that variety I wanted back in 2007, and have a life that includes enjoyable work alongside my other interests.

My name is Nina, I’m a self-employed marketing and social media consultant, a Rotarian and charity volunteer, a writer and photographer, and a keen observer of penguins. I don’t fit into a neat little job title box, and neither should you if that’s not what you want.

What type of work and what interests do you want to make room for in your life? How can you make that happen?

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