Have you ever thought about the number of roles and personas you have taken on over the years? And if you have, whether those have been forced upon on you, willingly embraced or handcrafted by you.
Reflecting recently on the past five years alone, I realised how much of a journey I had been on. On the personal front I have gone from wife to divorcee; co-parent to single mum and back to co-parenting; dating to finding my soul mate and becoming a step-mum, gaining two young boys who lost their own mum a few years ago.
On a professional front, it is fair to say that my career was always something I allowed to define me. I was used to success in the classroom and I brought that determined and high achieving attitude to the workplace. Always hard working, loyal and striving for the best results, I thrived in a corporate environment and my career took off. I am so lucky to have enjoyed over 17 years in one job. A place where I went from entry level to a leader with influence and skills that people could benefit from every day. A business that grew merged and changed significantly. During my time there I grew up. I left home, bought my first house, gained my lifelong best friend, got engaged, married, became a mum and so on.
Last year, for a range of mainly personal and some professional reasons, I left the job and organisation I loved. I decided to retrain and leave a life of stable employment to become a business owner doing something totally different. Shifting from a Head of Communications to a self-employed financial planner is not a regular career change. But I am not a regular person and have a strong vision for how I want my life to be that has guided me every step of the way. Even on one hideous Friday last year when I turned up three hours late for a tax exam.
I was bought into learning tons of new knowledge and embracing a new sector (and culture). I was excited at the possibilities of owning my own business. I could not wait to spend more time at home with my partner and our combined brood.
In hindsight those things were easy compared to the personal transformation I have been on. My sense of identity and purpose has changed several times. I have been up and down the change curve. I have learned a lot about myself.
In recent months, against a backdrop of lockdown, here are my key takeaways.
I love being with and around people. However enforced solitude has brought a new inner peace with a much smaller circle around me.
I have not missed shopping at all. I also hate food shopping. And I still find every excuse in the book to avoid the ironing.
I am a terrible primary school teacher that has resented having to learn a ‘new’ way of multiplying and dividing. What was wrong with the way I was taught in the 80’s?
I did not know what had hit me when my business was grounded after 11 weeks and the prospect of no income for many months was scary and upsetting.
I have adored daily walks and exploring my local area with fresh eyes, hungry for woodland, flowers and paths that twist and turn.
I realised that the main thing throwing me out of alignment was missing my old creative career and feeling I had lost the ‘Caroline’ way of doing things. That is a way that rails against process of any kind. I was also used to expressing myself through writing which I did every day for almost two decades. I went from a pantone obsessed, sharpie wielding communicator to a stranger in a new world overnight.
My epiphany came a few weeks ago. I realised that it was possible to apply the old Caroline way of doing things to my new career. That realisation provided immediate inner peace.
Creating this blog is one of the first steps in channelling my creative energy into the latest iteration of Caroline.
I will be writing about family life, the insanity of having three boys aged 11 and under in the house, the life of a self-employed woman in business, the lessons I learn from those around me, snippets about my childhood and a whole load of other reflections and inspirations linked to my new business and the world around me.
I hope you enjoy my journey.