The Challenge

“I’m going to suggest something and see how you try and get out of it” were the words that started all of this. For some time, meeting with my friend Dean for a drink and a catch up lead to an uneasy combination of feelings for me, namely excitement, fear and guilt.

You see, Dean is one of a small number of talented and creative friends in my world and I have to confess that I’ve always been a little envious of my talented and creative friends, especially when ‘talented and creative’ is what they do every day. Like many people, I have followed a career path for the last 11 years that albeit successful, wasn’t really planned, and I’ve reached a point where I can’t shake this feeling that there is something potentially ‘talented and creative’ that I should be doing instead.

So, sitting in the pub with Dean I ask how his work is going and he tells me about the themes and inspirations of his current work, the opportunities and interactions he has through his painting and the future plans and direction he has decided to take. For a brief moment I start to drift in my own mind, living vicariously through my friend, feeling the excitement of such creative freedom knowing how different this is to the Monday to Friday corporate world in which I operate. Then comes the return question “so how’s work for you?” and try as I might to muster the same level of enthusiasm as my friend, I just can’t. There’s shared frustration in our conversation as we both know that I want to be working more creatively, and ideally working for myself …… but neither of us can pin point exactly what that looks like.

We chat through my options; I have an eye for interiors and I’m good with a paintbrush, but does that make me an interior designer? I’ve worked for years as a Training Manager, but does that mean I can be a personal coach? I know retail fairly well but could I set up my own retail brand? Talking through the options is great, the possibilities are exciting but the fear quickly creeps in. Can I really do this? what about the mortgage? I can’t just switch career, I don’t really have a clear discernible talent to hang my hat on and neither do I have the time to re-train, this is just fantasy and I should probably consign the whole notion to ‘hobby’ and be done with it. And then I feel the guilt for wasting Dean’s time and being such a defeatist.

Then came the idea of setting up a blog. A way of talking to others about the things that I enjoy doing, primarily interiors and seeing where it takes me. “I’m going to suggest something and see how you try and get out of it …….. let’s go back to my house and set you up with a blog right now”. I agreed.

It’s taken some time to figure out what this blog will be about, but I think I’m there. I’ve decided to learn a new skill, and see if I can make it a viable business option in the future. For now at least, this blog will be about my plans and my progress and seeing where that takes me.

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11 thoughts on “The Challenge

  1. That is so exciting Jon and I think this is a great place to start! I’m googlereader inserting you right now!

    I understand the doubts and fears but its not an all or nothing decision. You can start the dream and see where it leads without jacking in your current career and consigning yourself to a cardboard box.
    I also don’t think getting to use your creative abilities these days is utterly dependent on the right training (but then I would say that!), its about passion, commitment and the unique ideas you have.

    I have a sneaky feeling that what you turn your hand to my just fly!

  2. Thanks Chantal, that’s really kind of you to say. I’m feeling pretty excited about the journey right now, and although my plans are loose I do have a direction. I know deep down that if the worst comes to the worst, I’ve lost nothing in trying to make a change, but it’s a change I really want to make so that’s why it feels extra important.

    I have to say I’ve been so inspired by both you and Dean, and of course I’ll be looking to you both to help me with this blog!

  3. The most dynamic changes in a persons life come with a ‘llghtbulb moment’. Having followed my dream for the last eight years I have no regrets and at last I feel that I am as much as one can be ‘my own man’. If you follow your dream and one day make a living from your passion you will enevitebly be a success because that passion will fire you and you will measure success not in pounds but by the ultimate glow of satisfaction and independance

  4. Hi, I’m an old friend of Dean’s. I just thought I’d comment because your words strike a very familiar note. I had very similar feelings myself for a long time. I had been working in telecoms for over 10 years and my last job made me utterly miserable. I am now at university studying Horticulture. In my experience, it only takes a small mental shift to start setting things in motion. You don’t have to make all the decisions now, just take small steps and you’ll probably find it all starts flowing quite naturally. Obviously, I am studying so still very much a work in progress but I am very much enjoying the changes I have made in my life and have not looked back.
    I wish you the best of luck

    1. Hi Lucy, Thanks for the words of encouragement, it’s great to hear from someone who has made a positive change like this. Even though it’s a work in progress, it must still feel very rewarding. Here’s to the small steps!

  5. It does take a lot of courage and self confidence. I remember exactly the moment that I start my company, by paying £50 to register the company name with companies house. “thats the biggest waste of £50 I’ll ever make”, but it worked out and now employes 12 people. I’m very fortunate in being able to combine creativity within a corporate entity. its fun to look back with pride at a brave moment of commitment to a new venture. I hope you too will have look back in a few years with the same satisfaction. given my total lack of style, I fear this may be the last helpful thing I can say but I wish you every success!

    1. Thanks Rob, I’m excited about the possibilities and about defining the next steps – and in the not too distant future will come the committed plan. Of course, writing about it so publicly raises the stakes a little. As for helpful, given your business credentials I’m sure you will be someone who can give me lots of useful advice.

  6. Jon, what an exciting project! I completely empathise with your situation: and perhaps I can make a couple of suggestions?

    One is that, genuinely, my blog at http://www.helgahenry.com is written for people who want to turn their creative talent into a career. There are lots of posts at the moment that might be hard to read all at once but one of my New Year’s resolutions is to sort out the tags and then make a page for “new readers start here” so that you can approach your new endeavour systematically using a range of exercises and resources I’ve written about. A bit of “moonlighting” in your out-of-work time in planning and thinking (and sharing that thinking on a blog) may pay dividends.

    The other is that, in reading your first post, I wouldn’t also necessarily dismiss your job as one which does not allow you to be “talented and creative”. You are a training manager and while you state your ambition as being to “work more creatively and ideally for yourself” there’s no reason why the first half of that sentence can’t be fulfilled right now.

    I truly believe that creativity comes, not in the “what” but the “how”. There are creative accountants, solicitors, paramedics – whatever. You don’t have to work in the creative industries to be creative. What creative approaches could you put in your training? Retail can be VERY creative – look at the high end retailers and what they do – training can be surprising, inventive, a performance, a story. Your techniques and methods could involve role play, games, collage, visual aids, presentation skills and DIY sculpture. I’m not necessarily suggesting that you ditch your dream and “stick to the day job” – I think I’m saying that unleashing that pent up creativity NOW where you are might give you an access more quickly to the thing you “should” be doing.

    Anyway, good luck with it. If you do read anything useful on my blog, please leave a comment – it’s always wonderful to get feed back on one’s efforts.

    1. Helga, thanks so much for this – Dean and I have spoken at length about your various collaborations and conversations and I find them interesting both in my current L&D role and also as someone who is looking to change their professional direction. You’ll be pleased to hear that the your first suggestion of subscribing to your blog happened a couple of months ago as a result of a personal recommendation (no prizes for guessing!) and I will invest some time in looking at the previous posts.

      Your second suggestion has given me some real food for thought, and if I’m honest I may have switched my focus too much to new possibilities without fully considering how I can also make a creative impact in the day job. The reality for me (as I’m sure it is for many) is that the day job is still important, and although it may not be ‘the dream’ it’s an absolute necessity in helping me get there, so why not see if I can make it a bit more fulfilling along the way?

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