Six years ago I was working in Central London within the sound of Big Ben. I had a team of staff and lots of responsibility. I was looking forward to retiring and taking some time out to relax and enjoy myself. Now here I am working in my office in the countryside, about to launch my fourth book. What changed?
‘I think I was born old-fashioned! I left school at 18 and went straight to work because I wanted financial independence. University seemed like an indulgence. I have a strong public service ethic, inherited from my parents, so I went to work for a local authority in London. There I trained to be a Chartered Surveyor.
Over the next 32 years I worked in the public and voluntary sector, progressing from technical work to management, and finally to corporate roles. By the time I was 50 years of age I had an MBA and I had risen to the dizzy heights of being a Deputy Director in the Senior Civil Service. Everything I had worked for and aspired to.
You can guess what comes next. I wasn’t happy. The view from my pinnacle was not as good as I thought it would be. I was commuting to and from London for 3 hours every day. I was working long hours. My boss didn’t respect or value my skills. That voice in my head that had been saying ‘What are you going to do when you grow up?’ was getting louder and louder.
One morning I was walking through the park on the way to the office and I became aware that there were tears running down my cheeks. That voice in my head said, ‘Life is too short to be miserable. It’s time to make a change’. I couldn’t carry on for another 10 years until my retirement pension age.
I had been interested in complementary therapies for years. I had encouraged my mother to train to be a reflexologist when she was 70! A friend had introduced me to Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) in the 1980s and I had been thinking about studying it but I was too busy with work and family. It was time to take action.
So I signed up for a ten month Cognitive Hypnotherapy course. I had no idea how I was going to cope with the weekend a month on the course plus any homework and studying, but the Universe rewards action. No sooner had I committed to the course than a scheme came up at work to take early retirement. Result.
My husband has always been supportive and that is a huge benefit. I rushed home and told him about the scheme and, without hesitation, he said ‘Apply!’ Six nail-biting weeks later my application was approved and my last day was set for 31 December. New year, new start.
1 January 2010 was the start of my entrepreneurial journey. I had lots of transferable skills that I had learned in the public sector and a treasury of life experiences to draw from. I knew next to nothing about running a business but my attitude was all about learning, developing and enjoying my new life.
In the next five years I set up in practice, delivered courses and workshops, wrote three books, developed two online programs and was on stage as a speaker in the UK, Canada and Cyprus. This year I have already been to San Diego and Detroit and spoken on stage in India for the first time. I know, I can’t believe it either!’
If you want to learn more about changing your life and becoming a midlife entrepreneur see my new book, Hot Women Rock; How to discover your midlife entrepreneurial mojo‘, published on 4 October 2016
Forget retirement – reinvent your life!