It's crunch time for Christi. She's about to make the leap but she's suddenly doubting that she's doing the right thing. When everything's in place, how do you find the courage to jump?
What's your career history and current job?
I'm a supply chain manager in the telecoms industry.
I started out as a logistics coordinator with Nokia ten years ago and worked my way up to Networks Country Supply Chain Manager for Samsung.
Essentially I manage large-scale network infrastructure projects for mobile networks, from end to end. I do everything from taking orders for equipment and services from the major UK operators (EE, O2, Three, Vodafone), to shipping equipment from the manufacturing plants to the final 'site', (which could be anywhere from farmland to the top of a high street shop).
It's been a demanding but fairly interesting career.
How do you feel about your work?
I used to enjoy feeling part of something.
For example, when I was working with O2 to get equipment installed ready to allow the very first iPhones to work in the UK. Also, I've enjoyed managing a team and learning some of the technical aspects of mobile telephony; I felt as though I was at the cutting edge of modern technology.
But I've long had this nagging feeling that I'm not using my 'real' talents – art and music. I've had less and less time to spend being creative as my roles have become more and more responsible. I've spent 50 hours a week or more working to line someone else's pockets and I've been too exhausted at the weekend to enjoy any benefits. There's been no time to draw or paint, make music or write.
Once I worked for a Korean company that expected me to virtually sleep in the office. (Some people literally did just that.) I gained a stone in weight, wasn't sleeping, was angry all the time, and ended up being signed off with stress and depression.
There have been times when I've become so withdrawn I've rarely showed my personality at work. To the point where I felt I was leading a double life – the 'work' me, showing up and going through the motions, and the 'real' me, plotting my escape.
About a year ago I moved into a part-time job in the same industry, to give me more free time to explore ideas for what I could potentially do as a job longer term.
But I'm so fed up with the corporate environment. It's basically meaningless regurgitation of whatever catchphrase management are currently bandying about, and putting up with a lack of honesty.
I also resent spending all of my time thinking about work, not being able to sleep due to stress and pressure, and being expected to answer the phone / respond to emails at the weekends.
What would you like to be doing instead?
I'd like to be a Graphic Designer.
I've been experimenting with art and music: I started having piano and guitar lessons, and I bought some art equipment and set our spare bedroom up as a studio. I've started painting and drawing again, trying out different styles and media.
My partner (I am extremely lucky) bought me an electric piano and an Apple Mac. And I've completed some beginners' courses in various graphic design tools at a local adult community college.
I don't want to sound like I think playing around with the tools means I can be a graphic designer; I know that isn't the totality of the job. But using Adobe Illustrator in particular gave me that sense of being totally absorbed in something that I usually only get if I'm playing music, reading, or painting and drawing. It made me excited.
I've now applied and been accepted onto a Graphic Design HNC course starting in a few months' time. The long-term goal is to gain enough skills to enable me to find a job as a junior designer.
And now I'm very nervous, but excited.
I'm hoping the graphic design route will lead to opportunities to be creative in day-to-day life – to design things, and come up with ideas, to work with enthusiastic people who enjoy what they do, and to make things that I can physically see or touch. Ideally, I hope this will mean that work will not feel like work.
What's the biggest obstacle in your way?
I've enrolled on this course, but I'm still really struggling with the whole idea of what I am doing.
I'm under no illusion that it will be easy, but I keep thinking I must be crazy to give up a £60k+ job to essentially start again on the lowest rung of the ladder, competing with young 'uns fresh from their postgraduate degrees.
I'm leaping into the unknown.
And I know there will be an element of selling myself and networking, which I'm not good at.
I'm worried I'm going to regret giving up my career (even though I feel sick thinking that this is what I could be doing for the rest of my life).
I'm also anxious about the burden I'm placing on my partner, who will be supporting me throughout the course.
I've talked to people about it and tried to imagine how I would feel if I didn't do it. In fact, another opportunity might never present itself: we're relocating due to my partner's job, and it seems like an ideal time to finally quit my job and re-train.
I've had support from my family and my partner. But I still crave some sort of reassurance – I guess from my 'future' self – to tell me not to worry, and that I'm doing the right thing.
What if I really regret leaving my well-paid, secure job? Am I making a huge mistake?
- Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
- How do you think Christi could move her shift forwards?
- Do you know anyone she could talk to?
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