Career change 1.0 – redefining failure

May 8, 2017 9 Comments

Career change 1.0 – redefining failure

May 8, 2017 9 Comments

Last month, I finally decided to face something that had been on my mind for some time. After much thought, I decided to call it quits and wind up my consulting business.

Admitting that my idea hadn’t worked might have felt like failure, except I had made a decision when I started that I would give the business two years. When I started, I reasoned that I could spend two years researching and talking to people, or I could just launch the business, and test and change along the way.

While I was able to contribute to some interesting projects with local industry bodies, I realised that my original concept of providing research and analysis to identify opportunities might have sounded good on paper but it was not what small businesses needed. Working for a small winery,  I realised that small businesses needed concrete introductions and contracts and there are other organisations (mainly government) better placed to provide that.

I was lying awake at night worrying about how I could “fix” things and telling myself I needed to be more aggressive in selling myself.  I tried to find articles about what I should be doing – and whether walking away was the right move but it would seem that unless it is a massive failure that leads to the next big thing, many people don’t talk about failure or even just when to walk away from a business. (There’s a whole other blog post here).

I was feeling like a fraud and found myself stepping away from the networks I had made because I didn’t want to talk about what wasn’t happening in my business. I was unhappy and stressed – which was not the plan when we embarked on our career and lifestyle change. And I reminded myself that it wasn’t this business idea itself – but rather the need for a change that was the reason I left my previous career.

I felt that it was time to try something different, and I just wasn’t going to be able to find something new while I worried about where to take the business. Even my goal to write more had fallen by the wayside becuase it’s hard to be creative with something unresolved hanging over you.

And while I knew this business wasn’t my big life passion, it still wasn’t an easy decision to admit that something I had created – and that bears my name, hadn’t worked.

 

“We must be willing to let go of the

Sending the first few emails to those contacts that had supported my business was tough but I was positive. While the experience hadn’t turned out the way I had hoped, I had learned a lot about the realities of small business, about the region, about myself and most importantly, established an incredible, diverse network of contacts. I am confident that good things will come out of my experiences and my networks.

The next step was to post on Facebook. It was actually harder admitting to family and friends that my business idea had not worked – but the positive words of encouragement I received from so many people helped me confirm in my own mind that I had made the right decision. I had tried, it didn’t work and I was moving on.

Throughout it all, my family have been amazing and while this first career change might not have gone as hoped, we have no doubt our lifestyle change and moving to the Barossa was the right move.

 

I have a great job (which I describe as everything but winemaking) in an industry I’m interested in and I have time to spend with my family, watching my boys develop their interests. We have a beautiful little house in a town that we love – and a garden that needs a lot of love and attention. I have time to pursue all those interests I never had to for before – from exercise to cooking and I am keen to focus on my writing – both this blog and my book on Vietnam and I may even take some formal writing lessons.

 

Despite this, it would be very easy to feel pressured to come up with my next move. I’m almost 43 and it’s almost three years since I left my government career. Shouldn’t I be doing more? For a brief moment, I even considered going back to the public service and trying to juggle full-time work.

But I am taking comfort in knowing that there are many successful people who have changed careers late in life. This article from Australian journalist and academic Jenna Price on her 60th birthday makes the point that in our 30s and 40s, we seem to racing to the career peak, when really we have a long career left in front of us. There is time to find the right thing and it is OK to take things slowly.

 

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Angela Pickett

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9 Comments

  • Me On Focus May 8, 2017 at 9:07 am

    I really like your positivity!!! 🍀

  • singaporerusteds May 8, 2017 at 9:11 am

    the blasted WordPress will not let me write a comment but i wanted to say Bravo my dear.x

    • angepickett May 8, 2017 at 9:43 am

      Thanks! Look forward to catching up with you soon

  • mariemclean May 10, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    This is a lovely honest post. At 45 I have similar thoughts – based maybe on other people’s expectations that I should be ‘doing more’. I was putting pressure on myself to make this ‘writing thing’ work, but I came to realise that other people’s opinions don’t really matter – it’s more important to enjoy the positive things that writing gives me.
    Good luck for your next step – and I hope you find focus in your writing.

    • angepickett May 10, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      Thanks Marie. I’ve been enjoying reading your posts and can see how much you are enjoying your writing.

      I’m definitely excited to have the space to write and be creative!

      • mariemclean May 11, 2017 at 8:53 am

        Thank you! It’s nice to know all of our words aren’t just flying around in the ether- that some of them are being read!

  • […] about whatever I wanted. I have written posts about recipes, travel advice, career change and starting a business (and failing), as I’ve undergone my own transformation from diplomat to student, trade consultant and […]

  • […] and I think I’m just coming to terms with what a big change it was to leave a 15 year career. Deciding to wind up the consulting business I started was a difficult decision, but it has been great to just focus on  my part-time job in […]

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