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Joanne spent 30 years working in the retail industry, then quit corporate life to make a career change into work that fulfils her personal values. This is her story.

What career did you start out in, how long were you in that area and what prompted you to make a career change?

I’d worked in Retail for almost 30 years when I started to feel ‘out of sorts’ with life. I looked closely at my values (an exercise I would highly recommend) and realised that my role in retail no longer suited the ‘real’ me. I wanted to support and help others in self-improvement, so I retrained as a Life & Business Coach. My niche started in supporting women to live and love life without alcohol, which I do as my alter ego ‘The Sober Angel’, however this is slowly encompassing the wider field of self‑improvement and wellness. What we eat and drink and do to our body and mindset is key to our overall wellbeing, and I love coaching and inspiring women in these areas.

What were some of the practicalities you managed when transitioning through your career change?

I think the biggest concerns for me were, firstly, will I survive financially? And secondly, how to go about it? Should I quit a job, retrain then start afresh in a new career, or manage two careers simultaneously until I felt ready to fully pursue a new area?

In the end an opportunity to take redundancy came up and I grabbed it, so thankfully the decision was made for me. Once I left my job I felt both reckless and empowered. I think no matter what, if you have a positive outlook you make things work out.

Which tools did you find helpful and why?

I found attending networking meetings really key in my decision to change careers. I still attend them now and have made some great friends along the way. Attending these meetings enabled to me to see that there was life beyond a corporate existence where we trade time for money. I started to see that I could work for myself and on my own terms, and re-address my distorted work/life balance.

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Talk through some of the challenges you faced along the way.

Without a doubt finances were a concern. I left a good job to essentially drift and find a new path, however I wouldn’t have done it any other way. When you are free from the clutches of corporate life and a job you no longer enjoy, you start to look at your own values and what you really WANT out of a job, not what you think you should have.

Starting afresh is also bittersweet. While my knowledge and learning has taken giant leaps in the last year, at times there was frustration as it felt like I was constantly sliding back to square one. They say, “every day is a school day”, and that really is true!

How do you feel about your current career, compared to how you felt in the one you left behind?

I feel totally content now versus before, which was stressed and unhappy. I am finally living in a way that’s aligned with my core values of supporting others, having the freedom to choose, and being appreciated. Realising that my Retail work did not align with my values was a light bulb moment for me.

What, if anything, do you miss about your previous career?

I miss some of the great people I met along the way. I saw true professionalism, resilience, determination and loyalty daily. I took a lot from being a part of that. As for the job, I don’t miss a thing.

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What were some of the highlights you experienced when making your career change?

As I’d “got off life’s train” (as I call it) by leaving my full-time career, I took the opportunity to travel the world before settling back into working life. And as for the work itself, I have discovered an online world where I can make money without having to do the corporate drudgery. This has been enlightening, fascinating and very much a way forward for me. Also, another highlight is being available for those around me, as I’m no longer stuck in traffic 100 miles away! Bliss.

What have you learned about yourself through this process?

I have learned that it is important to have work that is aligned with your values. When it isn’t it causes stress and a feeling of unhappiness at work. I have also learned that I am of value. If your employer can’t see that, no matter how hard or effectively you work, it’s time for a change. If I ever found myself in a similar situation I would move on much sooner.

What advice would you give to someone who’s considering making a career change?

Do it. Life is too short to spend years wondering what a change would be like. Spend some time looking at what really makes you happy, what lights you up and what is important to you. Look for a career that supports all those things and if you can’t find one, create your own. There are so many business opportunities out there; it’s just a case of choosing one that suits you. And if it doesn’t? Change again. Find a career that enriches your life in more ways than just the money.

And finally, what are you excited about over the next few months?

I am about to gain my Life Coaching Diploma after a year of study. My Business Coaching Diploma will follow early next year. I have a part-time coaching job working for WW (Weight Watchers) that I love and my own coaching business, which is steadily growing. Although I work long hours in my job and am putting many hours into my business, I do it on my terms. I finally have the freedom I was looking for.

Follow Joanne on Facebook @TheSoberAngel and visit her website:

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