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  • kingsandcubs

Is there a job you have always fancied doing but have no real idea whether you will like it or be any good at it?

Mine was always a primary school teacher but I think my rose-tinted view of cherubs chanting their ABCs, snuggling up for reading time and daily craft hour was probably a bit off the reality curve.

When I stumbled into the world of marketing an age ago, I had no idea it would lead to such a happy and fulfilling career in corporate communications. As I progressed and was given room to grow and the space to dream up ideas and test them out, I was in job heaven.

So, when I told people that I was going to resign and set up a business doing something I had not even retrained in yet, they thought I was insane. They said kind things like, ‘oh you will make a success of anything’ and ‘you’re great with people so it will all fall into place.’ But I could tell they were bemused.

The truth was I desperately needed a change so I took the plunge, dived head-first into a brand-new world and had no idea whether it would work out or not.

And as the clock stuck on New Years’ Eve, I gulped, ready to take flight on my own for the first time as my own boss. I will not bore you with the COVID-19 bit as we are all sick of that now. And the fact lockdown kicked in just eleven weeks into my self-employed journey is not why I concluded that my career change was not right for me.

The truth is, being creative, fathoming out communications solutions and preventing reputation nightmares is what is in my blood. It sparks my joy and I simply could not resist returning to what I know and love best any longer.

I am proudly launching my own business supporting other business owners who need help figuring out their customers and competitors, who are making changes and need support to manage their stakeholders and reputation or simply need an independent critical friend to explore ideas with and bring a heap of creativity, enthusiasm and experience to their business table.

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  • kingsandcubs

It seems every day as I scroll through social media, that people who are clearly a lot more serene than I ever will be, and more dedicated to the wellbeing cause, are enjoying a quiet revolution. At least five people a day pop up on my social channels posting perky videos, treading dew filled grass, walking dogs, sharing breath taking dawn shots inspired by nature.

I wonder, every single day, whether I will ever join them.

You see, my reality is somewhat different. Here’s the first 59 minutes of today.

07.11 – Wake up O

07.16 – Five people all trying to make different breakfasts and get a space (we have four stools)

07.22 – Morning debate – is today’s PE session indoor basketball or outdoor football and what happens if you take the wrong footwear in?

07.26 – Why does the clear sparkly toothpaste J uses turn blue in the sink? (Why??)

07.30 – Who is taking the last brunch bar for morning break? Why it is fair that O takes it. Why I just need everybody to get out of the kitchen right now.

07.32 – Wrestling competition on the landing perilously close to the top of the stairs

07.34 – Spot the learning journal treasure hunt game

07.40 – Morning wash on

07.43 – How has the computer science homework disappeared when it was in the bag with the other books

07.47 – O leaves (one down, two to go)

07.50 – Second debate of the day – should an iPad be allowed before school when you have got ready well ahead of schedule?

07.55 – Shower, hair, make up

08.10 - Hurrah – all three boys have left the building meaning I can now pack my bag including 2 big folders of pension documents, check emails, look up address of first client, dig out heels (yes heels!) and head off to see a client, but not before the washing machine plays its jaunty little tune to tell me the cycle is done.

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  • kingsandcubs

Self employed life sure has its twists and turns. One minute the roller coaster is gradually moving up to the top and you feel exhilarated, the next minute you are staring at a black hole reminiscent of the Oblivion ride at Alton Towers.

Last night I spotted a social media notification from somebody I worked with thirteen years ago. Both of us were in our 20’s at the time. I was just about clinging onto mine and he was in the early stages of his. He wrote me a message saying how inspired he was that I had left a profession he felt I was very skilled at and had publicly embraced something totally different. He described me as brave. He said he was proud to have been part of my ‘career 1’ and wished me luck for ‘career 2.’

The timing could not have been more significant given that I have been seriously wrestling with whether I can achieve the things I set out to do when I embarked on ‘career 2.’ Can I become as accomplished at this career as the last one? Is that necessary to make it work or is it a hang up I cannot shake off? How do I motivate myself day after day when I am so used to being in a big corporate environment with people, ideas, and buzz around every corner?

His kind words got me thinking about the perception gap. Just as I was doubting myself, he was looking at me from afar and feeling inspired. Strangely enough, just a few hours earlier I had met up with another former colleague, from more recent times, who I still miss every day. Seeing one and hearing from another made me realise that one of the things I am struggling with is not being part of a team as I have been before. A common purpose always fired me up. And brought out my leadership skills which border on bossy but tend to get the job done in a fun and creative way.

So, I am now left with a slightly different puzzle. Not whether I can achieve the things in my plan, but whether I can either get over the image of team worker Caroline or find a new tribe to succeed alongside.

I will end with two quotes from C.S. Lewis which I have displayed in my house. The first has been a firm favourite of mine for years and comforts me when I am going around in circles and being tough on myself.

“Have I gone mad? I’m afraid so, you’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”

The second is a more recent find and the perfect quote for the office (bedroom) wall of a relative newbie to the self-employed world.

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Thank you to those special two people who lifted me up. They know who they are.

To those reading this, look outside of yourself and think about how others see you. The perception gap could be bigger than you think, and that is a good thing. Stop the self-doubt and try approving of yourself instead. You might be surprised.

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