You have EVERYTHING to gain when you have nothing to lose

I’m only here writing my first SCAB because I have nothing to lose.

Rewind 20 years, embarking on a promising career as a Learning Design Manager for the UK’s largest bank, the world was my oyster or so I had (naïvely) thought. I was hungry for success, well what I had deemed to be ‘success’ at the time and the only way I knew how to achieve it was to keep getting promoted. If I couldn’t play the part (I was young), I’d at least have to look the part. My wardrobe was full of tailored suits and stiletto’s (this was the late nineties, forgive me!).

After getting pregnant with my second child, my career took a nose-dive, I had to step down from the ladder. As a woman, having children does affect your career there’s no doubt and so it should, no one should be expected to be at the top of their game in both their career and in parenthood. Still, it was a bitter pill to swallow at the time, but this isn’t a story about feminism.

I’ve hidden a few para’s for fear of boredom creep, not least my own!

Following divorce a few years later, I had to sell my house and rent instead (in addition to careers, turns out banks don’t like to give single mums mortgages either. Fuckers). I now had three young children to bring up, pretty much on my own. Jobs had to provide flexibility around childcare, not career advancement opportunities.  

As the children were getting older and I was becoming bored shitless of the school run, I started to really think about what success meant to me. If success meant (as it had done previously) to be married, to have an impressive job title, to work for a big bank, to own my own house; then I needed to do some serious re-framing and to work on my ego!

This is when the magic happened. Well it didn’t just happen. I had a few meltdowns along the way.

I started to think about what I actually ENJOY doing. What excites me, challenges me, fulfils me? What gives me a sense of achievement? How do I want to contribute to society? Ultimately what is my purpose?

I started to practice meditation and gratitude. Gratitude for the things I didn’t have as much as for the things I did have.  No longer having salary expectations meant that I could broaden my search for a new career. I’m certainly not in that cohort of mid-lifers who’ve ‘made-it’ working towards early retirement. A little re-frame: I’ll search for the career that I’ll never WANT to retire from. If early retirement ever becomes something I’m aiming for, it’ll be because I’m in the wrong job, not because I’ve ‘made it’.

I still cannot believe it took such a long time to land on Advertising because looking back the signs were there all along. I just wasn’t ready to see them. Had I not lost everything along the way, I’d still be up there on the wrong ladder not wanting to consider change for fear of losing everything. I’d still be taking life far too seriously and focussing on being ‘successful’.

So Adland, I’m finally ready for ya, I have lots to give, nothing to lose and everything to gain. 

As for having three children, believe it or not they help me endlessly with their insights on the latest trends, apparently tailored suits are out, everyone wears tracksuits to work these days!


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