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I believed I could, so I did. My career transition.

Updated: Sep 29, 2022

Isn't it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when we look back, everything is different

If I had known in 2015 that I would be where I am right now, I would have just laughed and said: "not possible - other people make those sorts of changes but not me, I am not brave enough".

At the time I was in a complete comfort zone. I was in a senior and safe position - I wasn't unhappy, but I wasn't feeling fulfilled either. The senior position I was in was not panning out the way I had once imagined it would. I was successful and outwardly one would never have realised I was starting to think about a shift in career - hell I didn't realise it at the time!! But a subliminal process had started and an exit strategy was forming - organically at first, but later far more consciously.

I knew I wanted to make a change but my ideas varied as far and wide as 'leave the country', 'put my passion for baking to good use', 'register for a PhD', or 'something else'.... something I just couldn't put my finger on.

Any of this sounding familiar to you? Or are you in that boat where you are so deeply unhappy that you know you need to get out but you just don't know how? Or to where?

Or are you thinking of leaving your job and starting something new - a new job elsewhere? Your own business? No idea... but something, anything because you just can't stay where you are!

Wow that's exciting! Well yes! But it's also terrifying.

"I don't know where to start" I hear you say!

Well, let me tell you what I did...

I surrounded myself with confident people who had made inspiring changes in their lives.

So first things first, I started hanging out with people that I thought were braver than me. And I listened to their stories. And as I listened I asked myself what was it that they had done that I felt I couldn't do? What made them more deserving of the lives they wanted than I was? And when I realised that the answer was nothing, that they were no more clever, no more talented, no more able than I was, then I decided well maybe I could too!

Surround yourself with people that inspire you! They say you become like the people that you surround yourself with, so choose wisely!

Things for you to think about:

  • Who inspires you?

  • Who can you learn from?

  • Who will challenge your thinking?

Then I got really clear on the life I wanted to live

I am a very visual person and the only way for me to get clear on what I wanted, was to collect a whole load of pictures and quotes of things that inspired me and experiences that I wanted to have. High on my list was creating a lifestyle that allowed me flexibility, the opportunity to pursue my creative outlets, time for travel, and work that would allow me to express myself fully and honestly. I realised pretty quickly that I valued experiences, relationships and connection far more than I valued things and so any work that I was going to go into, would need to help me optimise on this.

It became abundantly clear to me that I wanted work that supported my lifestyle, not a lifestyle that was subservient to my work!

Things for you to think about:

  • What is your vision for the life you want to live?

  • What would make you leap out of bed every day full of excitement for the day?

  • What do you value?

  • What will you stand for and what will you not stand for?

After that I decided what I wanted to be known for - what legacy I wanted to leave

I was in a group coaching workshop at a some point where we were asked to introduce ourselves and we all did the usual: "Hi, I am so-and-so, I am a xyz, and I work at blah blah blah".

We all looked predictably bored but impressed with our titles, until the facilitator told us how it was inevitable that we would define ourselves by our boring job titles (ha ha ha). We were then challenged to introduce ourselves in a way that indicated what our passions were and what legacy we wanted to leave behind.

Well mine was:

"Hi I am Briony. Every so often I get to contribute to the growth and development of young professionals - when I see how they have grown, and I know that I had just a little to do with that, it makes me feel energised. I want better leadership, better thinking and better decision making to be my legacy and contribution to South Africa".

That was a pretty pivotal moment for me, knowing that this was what was actually important to me.

Things for you to think about:

  • What do you want to be known for?

  • What is the legacy you want to leave behind?

I knew I needed to develop my skills so my next step was to figure out what competencies I needed

My career shift was a complete move away from safe employment to self-employment and into a completely new line of work. So I knew I was going to have to do some serious up-skilling to develop my credibility and confidence. I still wasn't clear on what I wanted to be doing though, so a lot of time was spent exploring and testing out my passions through studies and hands on experimentation. I had a whole foray into baking until I realised that my baking passion was being squashed by stress, and I missed nurturing people through more than just food.

After some serious reflection on my competence to make a shift into coaching, I knew I had the ability but I needed more knowledge, I needed to develop skills and I needed the experience of coaching others and being coached. That required a serious investment of time and money - some of which started while I was still employed, and some of which continued after I had left my job.

Things for you to think about:

  • What experiences do you need to have?

  • What knowledge and skills do you need to develop?

  • What are your strengths and how can you harness these and put them to good use?

Then it was time to tap into my support team

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together

I want to go far! But gosh it's not in my nature to ask for help! And yet that's what I have been doing for the last few months and have been learning to get really good at it. I have been tapping into and building my support team, my networks, my connections.

The more I talk to people about what I am doing, the more they confirm for me that I am on the right track and that there is a need in the market for what I am offering (they have also given me ideas on things I hadn't yet explored or was nervous about considering) - that has been a confidence booster, but it also helped spread the word that I am making a shift - and that's been immensely useful.

My support team includes my friends, my family, my husband, my coach, some ex-colleagues, some new colleagues, some people I have met through various FaceBook Groups and some people I haven't seen since school. Thank you to you all!!

Things for you to think about:

  • Who can help you make the right connections?

  • Who do you need to hold your hand or be a shoulder when things get tough (because they will)?

  • Who can you brainstorm with?

  • Who will keep it real for you and ask you the tough questions or give you the candid feedback?

Money! Money Money! How am I going to pay my bills???

Ah it was all sounding so good until now wasn't it?? Ughhh! Unless you are planning to live off-grid (and even if you are), you need money. I very quickly realised, and thankfully had some good coaching along the way, that all these plans, and values and visions, and thoughts of leaving a legacy were no good if I couldn't pay my bills and live.

I am very grateful for the fact that I am at a stage in my life where I have very few expenses, relatively low debt, and a fair sum of money saved up - enough to buy me a year of life out of the rate race while I reinvented myself. I still had to get used to living on less though, and made that part of my process before I left the security of salaried-employment.

And now I have a pretty strict budget - what that has done for me in terms of being clear on my priorities has been pretty stunning. The question: "Am I feeling needy or wanty?" comes up regularly for me.... do I NEED this? or do I WANT this?

My spending habits have changed dramatically, and amazingly, I have enough money to live comfortably, pay my bills, travel every now and again and set up a fledgling business.

Things for you to think about:

  • How much money do you need to live on - really? Is that wanty or needy?

  • How much time do you need to stockpile that kind of money?

  • What sources of funding can you draw on?

  • What's your budget for starting your new venture?

  • What strategies could you adopt to ease the transition out of a salary and into the unknown?

Timing is everything!

Being prepared for the leap you are about to take is everything, and as a result timing is everything. Leap too soon and it may take you longer than necessary to pick yourself up. Take too long to leap and you may just talk yourself out of it entirely (that's ok if you aren't that committed to the change).

Where you are in your life is an important factor in your timing - if you have responsibilities and people who are dependent on you... well you need to think about them too. In my case, I was 42, married with no children (well dogs, but none of the two legged variety) - I had some money saved up and some shares I could cash in. But I needed time to set up my networks and up-skill myself. In retrospect I possibly could have given myself more time before I took the leap - but there is something about a sense of urgency and a sense of hunger that focusses the mind.

Things for you to think about:

  • What life stage are you in?

  • Who else will be affected by this decision?

  • Who is dependent on you?

  • What preparations do you still need to make before you feel confident you can do this?

  • How long will you need to get yourself up and running again? Subtle hint here - making a career change, especially to your own business, requires time, let me say that again: TIME

Now how do I survive, and thrive, before I make my move?

This is one area where I didn't do particularly well - and that's exactly why I am including this - I got so focussed on life after my current job, that I forgot to look after myself while I will still in the job. And when I don't look after myself I get grumpy and people around me tend to know it.... not great when you are trying to build up a network of ambassadors for your new venture.

By the time I handed in my resignation, I was in burnout. The only self-care strategy I had at my disposal was to cut down my work hours while I worked out a three-month notice period and then take at least 6 months of down time to find my mojo again. That day off every week was like manna from heaven - and I used it for relaxation, creativity projects, reading, and planning. The 6-months off turned me into a new person.

I probably could have avoided the cut in salary and 6 months of downtime if I had employed a few more self-care strategies early on. I don't regret the downtime at all - but it's an expensive way of looking after yourself.

Things for you to think about:

  • What are your self-care strategies?

  • What do you need to do to keep yourself surviving and thriving while you work your way towards your exit?

And then I believed I could, so I did...

I believed I could. So I did.

Part of this exit process is a journey of self-discovery - discovering your passion, your values, your purpose, your direction, your courage, your self belief. And along the journey it gets hard - that's when you need to call on all your self-care strategies, your support team and your skills to stay courageous and on course.

Believe me, there have been days when I have wondered what I am doing, who I am, what I was thinking. But my golly, I am so committed to the life I want to lead, to being true to myself and to my values, and being true to my introduction "Hi I am Briony. Every so often I get to contribute to the growth and development of young professionals - when I see how they have grown and I know that I had just a little to do with that, it makes me feel all glowy. I want better leadership, better thinking and better decision making to be my legacy and contribution to South Africa".

What's your introduction that you want to live up to?

When you look back one day on the changes you have made, when you reflect on where you are now, you will be amazed at how far you have come.

Are you planning a career change? In the midst of a career change? Too scared to make a change? Got something to share from your career journey?


I love conversations and would love to engage with you on your career and how you are managing yourself and your career like a business.

I believe "managing your career like a business" means having insight on where you want to go in your career, the agility and resilience to change track when necessary, competence to navigate transition points, and self-awareness to manage yourself.

I help you do that through one-on-one coaching, CV and LinkedIn profile writing, topic-specific workshops and a suite of blogs and other materials available on my website. Want more information? Drop me a message and I will get back to you asap.

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