How I can help Esc members
I'm good at listening to people, diagnosing issues and brainstorming solutions. I don't have any answers but I can ask lots of really good questions to help people work out their own solutions.
I'm still not sure what I want to 'do', but since I left full-time
employment I've accidentally developed portfolio career, that I find
stimulating, enjoyable and hugely rewarding. I run my own blog, I help
other people develop TV ideas (I was recently paid in cheese and a
Chinese meal for a consultation), I write books (two nonfiction books
published with another in progress and the ambition to write a novel).
also run two mentoring schemes for people working in the film and TV
industry. And to date, I've traveled to Sheffield, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Washington DC and Cannes courtesy of press pass. To supplement my income I also rent out my spare bedroom via AirBnB, which has been a complete revelation - I get to meet lots of great people but without the commitment of a full-time lodger (I usually host people for just one month).
My main ambition is never to work full-time for just one employer ever again - beyond that, anything is possible.
Before I escaped...
My first career was as an nurse, which was something I had been
determined to do since I was four-years-old. I realized within three
weeks of starting my training that I hated it, but couldn't admit it to
anyone because I'd been so adamant that that was what I wanted to do.
stuck it out for three years until one New Year's day - hungover and
newly dumped - that I staged an audacious rescue of a dying woman from a
no.43 bus and realised that I belonged in A&E. I did that for
another 6 years, working my way up the promotion ladder. But I was still
One day, after a particularly bad shift,
I applied for a job as a volunteer medic with Raleigh International
and, to my surprise, was offered the job. The catch? I had to leave in
exactly one month, which meant I had to go straight from the interview
to hand in my notice. As I gave up my job I also gave up my home (I
lived in the nurses' home) and any way of paying off my car loan. I also
had to spend my life savings on the flight. On New Year's Eve, I found
myself on an overnight train from Santiago to Puerto Montt, Chile. I
spent three glorious months working with young people, kayaking through
fjords, building a jetty and doing archaeological research. To say it
was an eye-opening life-changer in no way does it justice.
got back to the UK I applied to university and got a place to study
Media with Cultural Studies. I supported myself by working at WHSmith,
the local BBC radio station, and working as a holiday rep in Lanzarote.
the course I did some more volunteering - at Glastonbury (another
mind-blowing experience) - and got a temp job at the BBC. One job led to
another at the BBC - via post-production, working on shows such as Meet
the Ancestors, The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures and Animal
Hospital - before I finally found my niche, working in development. It
was my job to originate, research, develop and pitch ideas for science
and history programmes. I spent several years at the BBC in London and
two years in New York developing shows for the US market.
ten years at the BBC I was burnt out and unhappy. So I took voluntary
redundancy. That was five years ago, and I've never been happier.
My moment of truth...
When I was a nurse I won a promotion and found myself working in a terrible hospital. I had all the responsibility on a shift with absolutely no power to change things; I felt I was going to end up in court defending something that was indefensible. I had no fight left in me, so I had to get out.
When I was at the BBC I was working in a niche that was little recognised, and certainly not appreciated. I was sanguine about this for a while, but in the end the petty politics ground me down.
Planning for it...
In the first instance I took a leap of faith and said yes to an opportunity on the spur of the moment. If I'd had time to think about it I'm sure I wouldn't have done it.
The second time around, I knew that every few years there were redundancies, so I strategised to get as far up the ladder as possible to maximize my redundancy payment, and then when the time was right I lobbied really hard to be selected.
The worst and best bits...
I've been earning much less than I was (about 50%), but for fewer hours and I've been able to work the hours that suit me. I've also realised that much of my higher salary was spent on treats that compensated me for the miserable day/week I'd had at work. I no longer need to buy myself treats and so can live on much less.
I"ve been working on a part-time freelance basis so I can fit in my writing. Whenever I've come to the end of a project and needed to pick up more work someone has approached me with a job offer - I don't know how that has happened but it has.
When originally thinking about leaving my A&E job (after having been lucky enough to get a place on a prestigious and highly-competitive specialist course) the tutor said that if I wanted to leave I should and not feel bad about it: if it worked out then I had made the right decision to leave; if it didn't work out and I returned to nursing I would come back a better person because I would have broadened my knowledge and experience of the world and would also better appreciate my job. As it happened I never did look back, but I often remember that advice.
Useful resources and information...
Yaro Starak's Blog Mastermind Course