From Teaching to Portfolio Career

“I couldn't take the stress and misalignment anymore.”

Image of Jackie Boylhart

From Teaching to Portfolio Career

Feeling bitter and hopeless, Jackie Boylhart sought help to plan a gradual shift into work that felt like a better fit. Here, she shares why slow and steady wins the race, and how her mindset's been key to the process.

What work were you doing previously?

I was a maths teacher.

What are you doing now?

I'm now a marketing consultant and copywriter (working remotely).

I'm also the founder and owner of Katy Fulshear Piano Studio, providing in-person and virtual, one-on-one, private piano lessons.

How did you feel in your work before you decided to make the change?

I felt trapped.

I was becoming bitter in education and starting to lose hope for the sector. I enjoyed teaching, but I felt like my strengths could be better used in an environment where I could thrive personally.

It was time to get out because I was burnt out.

Why did you change?

I couldn't take the stress and misalignment anymore.

It was more of a feeling than a rational decision.

When was the moment you decided to make the change?

About three years ago, my mind shifted towards being proactive, instead of reactive, regarding my career.

Prior to that, I'd just been moving along the career ‘escalator’. I continued on the ladder by joining Teach For America. I then worked for a corporate-style school as Dean of Instruction. There were many signs that it was time to leave. I left and went back to the classroom as a transition towards my longer-term exit strategy.

Some people can just cut everything off, go bare minimum and leave while living off an apartment floor and eating ramen. Not me. So I knew I had to transition into a position (back to teaching in the classroom) where I had the time to figure out what I needed to do, without the responsibility of leadership. I gave myself a deadline of two years and left.

How did you choose your new career?

I spent time working with a career coach and identifying my strengths, skills and ideal work environment.

I worked on developing my mindset and pursuing things that lit my soul on fire.

After that, my new career was a process of elimination rather than a selection, as such.

Are you happy with the change?

Yes.

I've been working as a marketer for the past year or so, but I know there is one more transition I need to make in my career which I'm working on laying the foundation for behind the scenes.

How did you go about making the shift?

A lot of the career shift was about me working on myself, internally.

I believe the state of your mind and inner self is reflected in many ways in your outer self. A large part of my shift and transition was understanding I needed help, then seeking and actively participating in that help.

I took online courses (skills and mindsets), worked with a career coach, a life coach and asked lots of questions, not being afraid to fail forward.

What didn't go well? What wrong turns did you take?

I don't think anything went badly, per se, but it did get pretty embarrassing trying something and then not sticking with it.

To the outside world, I appeared ‘flaky', 'inconsistent' and 'undecided’ while on the inside I felt confident that I was eliminating what didn't work, in order to land on what did.

It definitely wasn't always easy. There were many times I started applications to work at a school again, simply because it was familiar and comfortable.

How did you handle your finances to make your shift possible?

I'm not someone who is all-or-nothing; I like doing things gradually.

I'm a planner. I like to plan for as little pain as possible, even if I know this is maybe not the most efficient way of getting to my goal.

The cut in salary (when left my Dean position to go back into the classroom) was a huge adjustment for me. However, even though my salary was 'cut' I realised I was making more money per unit of time (so was able to work less hours).

So, I committed to making that extra time worthwhile. It started with me investing time in learning, taking courses and trying new thing. I also used some of it to make up the salary difference by teaching piano lessons and tutoring.

What was the most difficult thing about changing?

Fear of the unknown.

I didn't know if my plans were going to work. I had no idea If I was making a mistake, or if I should've just stayed where I was.

What help did you get?

I worked with a variety of coaches – a career coach, a life coach, a business mindset coach – and a mentor.

My husband, friends, and social media contacts were also hugely supportive.

What resources would you recommend to others?

If you are trying to get clear on a direction, I highly recommend Dustin Peterson's book, Reset.

What have you learnt in the process?

To take it one day at a time and to live entirely in the present moment.

It's wise to have plans, but I have to be adaptable too. I've learnt to honour my past, without being held captive by it.

What would you advise others to do in the same situation?

Don't be afraid to get help.

Sometimes it feels like you have to do everything on your own, or that you should just 'know' what to do. I wouldn't be where I am today without the people I sought out to help and guide me.

To find out more about Jackie's business, visit www.jackieboylhart.com.

What lessons could you take from Jackie's story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below.

Plus, if you know someone who's made a successful shift into work they love, we'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line at hello@careershifters.org. and you could win a £25 / $35 Amazon voucher in our monthly draw.