“I'm happy to work hard for a goal, but I realised that the hours I was putting in weren't worth it if that goal was ultimately unachievable.”
From Sports Coaching to Property Development
What work were you doing previously?
I was a High Performance Sports Coach.
What are you doing now?
Why did you change?
My previous role was very fulfilling, but I worked six or seven days a week with very long hours, and I'd been doing it for over a decade.
When was the moment you decided to make the change?
Someone vastly less qualified than me was given my 'dream' job for political reasons.
There was no interview process, so I wasn't even able to apply. I'm happy to work hard for a goal, but I realised that the hours I was putting in weren't worth it if that goal was ultimately unachievable.
Are you happy with the change?
My life has become my own and my hours have become flexible. Sometimes I work really long hours doing hard, physical work, and sometimes I work for just a few hours a week. I've been involved in property for a year now and I'm earning far more than I was before. I work fewer hours overall and feel much more fulfilled.
What do you miss and what don't you miss?
I miss the contact with the athletes and the sense of changing their lives.
But I don't miss the early starts, the weekend work, the endless weekends away from home and working outside all winter. I also don't miss the politics of the organisation, which were very wearing.
How did you go about making the shift?
I was very lucky that my personal circumstances had recently changed, meaning I was able to change direction.
I also had the support of my partner, which really helped.
I took quite a big risk as I resigned before knowing what I was going to do. I dabbled in a few things before I made up my mind, but once I was sure about my new project it seemed like the right thing to do and I just went for it.
How did you handle your finances to make your change possible?
Badly! But I learned quickly.
My budgeting on the renovation project was excellent, and I surprised myself. It was my personal budgeting that was the problem!
My biggest learning curve was that because I no longer had a full-time job, and was working for myself, my opportunities for credit dried up a bit. I didn't really calculate how long it would take between putting my first property on the market and actually getting the money in the bank. It was all a bit tight, but I got there in the end.
What was the most difficult thing about changing?
Feeling that my previous job had defined me, and not feeling defined by my new role.
In my job, I felt that I was successful and good at what I did. When I started property development, I didn't know if it was going to work. Once I'd completed my first property and realised that I'd done it successfully (way beyond my expectations, in fact), I then had the same sense of being good at something.
What help did you get?
I came up with an idea of what I thought I should do. Then I had a consultation with a great career coach who gave me the confidence to go ahead.
What have you learnt in the process?
I learnt a vast amount about project managing a build, the property market, and how to go about making a profit.
I made sure that I paid below market price for the property I bought and then stuck to a very tight budget throughout the process. Every pound you save on the initial price and the work you do is profit at the end; every bit of work that you do yourself rather than paying someone else is all money in the bank. It sounds very simple, but the reality is quite hard work. I made over 30% profit on my first project, in under a year. In this economic climate, that's a pretty good return on your money.
What would you advise others to do in the same situation?
If your job situation is unsustainable, there is always a way out.
You may have to think laterally and be very honest with yourself, but that can only be a good thing.
What resources would you recommend to others?
A good careers advisor is invaluable.
What lessons could you take from Eira's story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below.