“I Know What I Love, But I Don't Know If It's Realistic. How Do I Take The Risk Out Of My Shift?”

Natalia knows what else she wants to do. However, with a mortgage and the stability of her family to think about, she can't afford to make a wrong move. When you don't know if your idea is viable, how can you be sure that your big dream isn't just a pipe dream?

What's your career history and current job?

I'm a senior trial manager in research.

I'm a psychologist, and I've worked in mental health and primary care research for the last four years.

I joke that it's like being the housewife of clinical trials; I take care of everyone on the team.

How do you feel about your work?

It's not so much that I really dislike my work.

I enjoy the relationships I have with people. I like my colleagues, and being able to support the people I work with.

I'm also generally a very curious person, so I like learning about health and discovering new ideas in my field.

But I have this feeling that I know this isn't it for me. I find myself getting distracted easily – going off in daydreams about other things I could be doing.

What would you like to be doing instead?

I'm a very visual person, and I love the idea of working as a stylist – anything from fashion and personal styling to event styling and interior design.

That's what I always find myself thinking about while I'm in my day job.

I don't have a specific area of styling that I know I want to focus on. I just love to make things beautiful, and I know I have an eye and a flair for it.

Ultimately, I think I'd love to have my own business: maybe interior design, or e-styling for individuals looking to upgrade their wardrobes… something like that.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

I need stability in my life, and I can't seem to work out how to make my idea a stable option.

I could re-train, but I'm nearly 40 and I don't want to go back to school. I'm smart and creative, and I know I can bootstrap my way into a business, if I can be confident that it will work.

Over the past year I've watched my husband start his own business, and although we're both very optimistic people, I'm the more risk-averse one of the two of us.

I have a safe job at the moment, a mortgage, I want to have a baby, and right now the stability in my family is me. I'm not afraid to try to make my career change, but it's important that I do this in a responsible way.

I tried running some projects to test out my ideas while working my day job.

I have a stylist friend who invited me to collaborate with her on some editorial work. That was useful, because I realised that editorial isn't where my passion lies.

Then I tried styling some friends for free – I gave them a consultation, created a presentation with different outfits for them, and then went to buy the outfits with them. It was really fun and I did it with three people to start creating a portfolio, but that tailed off and I haven't kept it going.

I've also talked to a number of people who work in styling, which was disheartening. Even people who have been working in this industry for five years or more are on a low salary.

I'd love to speak to some more people who work in this industry, or people who might consider hiring someone like me to style them, so I can get a clearer idea of what's possible.

I'm feeling very confused about what to do. But at least I'm in action. And maybe that's just what career change looks like at this stage? I don't know.

I have natural skills to style space and people, but I just can't seem to work out if it's really a viable option. When you can't afford to make a mistake, how do you find out for sure if your idea will work?

Can you help Natalia?

  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How do you think Natalia could move her shift forwards?
  • Do you know anyone she could talk to?

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