Changing Course . . . It Can Be Done!

22 October of 2014

How many of us really love our jobs? Are we really satisfied and enthusiastic when we head out the front door in the morning for a hard day’s work? I think the sad truth is that not many people feel that way at all. A few years ago, I’d certainly become down trodden with the daily grind.

I was well into my thirties and worked in advertising. I’d started as an office junior when I left school, so I’d managed to work my way up to a decent position at that stage. I earned an excellent salary, with many benefits and supported a lifestyle that I was happy with. I was in a better position than most and I should have been satisfied . . . and yet there was something missing. It was because I no longer took any enjoyment from what I did. I didn’t have the drive for it anymore. I was just going through the motions in order to continue bringing in the money, but actually I didn’t want to be there at all. I felt trapped. There was no way I could afford to give up work and surely it was too late for me to change course? Not only did I feel like I was too old, but I didn’t want to take a pay cut and usually in any new career you have to start at the bottom.

So I carried on regardless. But eventually that made me so desperately miserable that I just had to do something about it. I took things right back to basics. I started to think about what I would do if I had my time again. What did I enjoy most when I was at school? What might give me the most satisfaction on a daily basis? It was that thought path that led me to the world of art. I was so passionate about my drawing in my younger days, but it was something that as I got older I put on the hobby bench, because quite frankly it was a well renowned opinion that there was no money to be made from art. I wanted certain things for my life that I felt drawing as a career couldn’t provide me with. I’d started out in advertising by accident really, but as my career progressed I found, as so many of us do, that I had less and less time for my passion.
It’s easy in your youth to accept widely stated opinions as absolute truth, but as an adult you begin to question these things and research for yourself to see if there’s a way forward for you. And that’s what I decided to do. With the wonderful tool of Google at my disposal, I began to look into what careers you could go into that involved art. And the winner for me was graphic design. It was something I already knew a little something about from my career in advertising and also something I felt I would really enjoy.

I decided to take an evening course at my local college. There was no risk involved in getting qualified. Ok, so I paid out a little, but I got to keep my job and my comfortable salary for the time being. Doing the course brought back some of that passion and excitement into my life and by the time I’d finished I was never more sure of what I wanted to do. At 38 years old, I decided to set up my own graphic design company. Graphic design in Essex (where I’m from) is not terribly widespread, so it was good that I was able to start out with not much out there in the way of local competition. I went through the logistics of setting up a company whilst still working at my previous job, secured myself a few clients so that I had something to sustain myself financially . . . and then quit my job!

Most frightening thing I have ever done. But I just knew in my heart of hearts that if I didn’t take that leap I’d be forever miserable. 3 years on my business has gone from strength to strength. I’ve just had to take on my first member of staff as the workload became too much for me to handle on my own. And not only that but I also sell my own pencil drawings on the side. Of course, at first my salary reduced quite considerably, but you find ways to manage and the quality of life it gave me was immeasurable. Eventually I matched my old salary and these days I’m bettering it!

So it just goes to show . . . you’re never too old! If you’re not happy look at what you can do to change that. You only get one life. I changed course and I couldn’t be happier!

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