Six fun things I’ve done to prepare for my career adventure

Ok five days until I leave the BBC now.  And in typical me style I’ve over-prepped.  I’m not going to share the obvious stuff like sorting out my pension and updating my CV (I haven’t actually even done that!) because that’s not an exciting read.  I want to tell you about some of the more fun stuff I’ve been doing to prepare.

1: Marie Kondo-ing my house

So if you haven’t heard of this best selling book, the principle is quite simply that you look at your possessions one by one and you ask yourself with each one ‘does this spark joy?’.  If it doesn’t get rid of it!  I actually booked a day off work so I could Marie Kondo my house.  I wanted a streamlined house for my new life.  I was convinced it would allow me to feel focussed and confident.  I can smugly say it had the desired effect.  I have to confess I got a little bit addicted to chucking stuff out and my boyfriend Jamie became quite alarmed at the rate at which I was culling our possessions.  I’m sorry about the bread knives Jamie! But the upshot is – my house looks emptier and sparklier and I can access all my stuff I really like easily.  Winner.

marie kondo

2: Fresh Walks – the funnest networking event

Fresh Walks is quite literally the best networking event I’ve ever been to.  Combining twelve mile hikes in the Peak District with business networking, ending in a pub supping ale and eating pie.  What’s not to like?  I’ve met the most diverse mix of people on these walks – including a female painter decorator, a Casino Manager, a lady who runs her own wine tasting company and a director of a PR company.  It’s given me a fantastic insight into a very colourful and successful business scene in Manchester and access to a network of people who are willing to go out of their way to help me with my career.  Perhaps falling into bogs and having to sneak off behind trees for comfort breaks forces people to cut the crap that comes with traditional networking. Find out more here:

fresh walks
The mighty Fresh Walkers stopping for a rest

3: Getting active on Linked In

At my last Fresh Walks event I met a lovely chap who works as a Linked In trainer.  As soon as I found this out this poor guy didn’t stand a chance.  I interrogated him! I’m very aware that Linked In is a very useful career tool, but other than connecting with 720 people (a lot of whom I accidentally connected with due to an unfortunate spam incident!), I was fairly unconfident about using Linked In.  However Mr Linked In encouraged me to view it as not disimilar to Facebook, in that if you are willing to show some personality in your posts and interact in a friendly, fun and human way, some very useful stuff could happen.  Since then I’ve posted my blog on Linked In and posted a couple of very simple crowd surfing questions on there – all  these posts have been effortless but proved very fruitful. My best outcome from Linked In is that I asked if anyone knew about blogging events in Manchester and a complete stranger informed me about an event called ‘Freelance A Lot’. Free booze, free food – I was in.  And off I went – didn’t learn anything about blogging but met a couple of very useful and lovely freelancers who I’ve stayed in touch with and got some free nosh and wine to boot!

4. Redecorating the house

Ok we probably would have done this anyway, but my end date acted as a catalyst for this one.  I figured I would be spending a significant part of my hours in the future in my own home and I wanted to feel inspired by my surroundings.  A painter and decorator, some carpet stripping/floorboard sanding and furniture buying later and we have a rebranded and pretty cool looking house. Admittedly as Jamie pointed out my role in this has largely been supervisory having avoided any hard graft, but you know, I played an important role in the necessary blue sky thinking at the start.


5. Clothes shopping

Obviously, I couldn’t just rebrand my house – I had to rebrand me too! If I was going to be meeting so many potential clients and employers imminently I needed to look the part.  Cue me buying a lot of clothes.  Not sure how I managed to justify underwear and pyjama shopping with this project, but I’m very happy with my purchases.

dress horizontal
Fairly unsuitable ‘professional dress’ purchase

6. Running

I’ve relied on getting a wholesome amount of exercising by cycling at least 60 miles a week to and from work.  My waistline could be in danger post leaving the BBC.  I decided I’d better come up with a new regime.  So I’ve scoped out a three mile running route from my house that I will do first thing every morning.  New running gear, headphones, iPhone belt have been purchased and various new albums downloaded. I’m ready!





When you scare other people with your dream

When you are being brave and leaving your full time job of ten years to embark on an unknown career, you think that it’s just your own feelings of fear that you have to contend with.  But as I’ve learnt recently, it’s not just me with the jitters that in two weeks time I will no longer be an employee of the BBC.

My boyfriend Jamie has been an absolute rock and a huge source of encouragement over the last six months while I’ve mapped out my plans for post redundancy life.  So when in the last week he started asking me a number of unsettling questions about how will I cope with the shock and lack of structure when I leave – I’ve been a) surprised and b) grumpy. I’ve spent the last six months planning how to make this move with Jamie – he’s been part of the process of me thinking through how to carve out an exciting new career, but also how to manage the loss of the stability and support network of the BBC.  Didn’t he trust me now?

Fortunately, with a bit of reflection I started to realise that Jamie feels a little in the dark and nervous about what is going to happen next with my career, my routine and just me generally.  I personally feel very confident – but admittedly it is a somewhat loose plan of getting out there and seeing what opportunities crop up.

But this is a more considered approach than it sounds.  In the last year I’ve networked my way across the vibrant and friendly Manchester business scene and with a redundancy package behind me, I decided that the smartest plan for me is to hold my nerve and find out where the interesting niches and opportunities lie WHEN I leave. I’m proud of this approach – I think it’s ballsy and likely to be a fun and fruitful path – it’s intuitive and it allows me to work out what I want to do and perhaps more importantly figure out who I want to work with.  But there has been a ton of preparation with this ‘relaxed’ approach – I KNOW I could get depressed, lonely and disheartened when I don’t have the firm structure of a 9-5 job in my life.  I also won’t be getting the strokes and praise I’m used to getting in my current job.  Will I feel lost and undervalued when I’m floating about in this freelance abyss?  Well actually no I don’t think I will.  I know I’ll have good days and bad days – I’m sure of that! But I’m confident I can handle it.

I’ve had two examples of massive upheaval in my life in the last five years: I relocated from London to Manchester with my job in 2011 and two years ago I split up with my husband and got divorced.  Two potentially stressful and destabilising experiences and in both cases I thrived.  I would say I got the ‘training’ to manage stressful situations when my life derailed several times in my teens and twenties:

  • At eighteen I got lonely and depressed when I went to university.  I saw it through, but I found my time at Liverpool John Moores extremely difficult
  • My mum died of lung cancer when I was twenty three – she’d been dying for three and a half years
  • My return to London from a year’s travelling when I was twenty seven saw me descend into catastrophic debt and have a massive identity crisis when I compared myself to my now seemingly successful friends

But, eventually (and oh my this has taken me a long time), I’m really grateful for what those experiences have taught me.  They’ve taught me that even when I’m dreaming big, to be gritty and realistic about how bad things can go and to put safety measures in place.

So, I have reassured my boyfriend that despite my optimism and dreaminess of approach with my ‘make it up as you go along’ career plan, that there is substance, structure, pragmatism and a shed load of back up plans in place.  I know what I’m doing and in being forensically prepared for the very worst I think I’ll achieve the very best.



can I live my dream career?