Lucy made a career shift from digital project management to floristry. 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 started out as a Digital Project Co-ordinator at an agency in 2010, then progressed to Digital Project Manager over 3.5 years. After that I moved in-house to a large corporate and stayed there for 3 years, before moving to another in-house role at a smaller company for a year.
When I first started work, I was more focussed on wanting to be in London with my friends, so found a good job at a nice company, but other than that I didn’t give it much thought. I found project management quite stressful and it only got more stressful as I got more responsibility. Ultimately the stress consumed me and had a large impact on my life outside of work. For ages, I thought that was just the way it was; I would always feel that way about work and that I just needed to grow up, get on with it and get better at managing stress. I had a really lovely life, great people around me and a good job, but I just wasn’t happy and I couldn’t figure out why.
With the encouragement of people around me, I sought help from a counsellor and it didn’t take long to get to the conclusion that I just didn’t enjoy what I did and wasn’t motivated to do it, which is why it was having such a negative impact on my life.
From there I signed up to see a career coach, who really helped me get clear on what my values were, what I was motivated by, what I wanted from my work and what I wanted my work to achieve. The process helped me understand why what I was doing jarred with me and was making me unhappy.
I had always said “I want to quit and be a florist”, but I would talk myself out of quitting because I thought this was an idea that I’d just plucked out of thin air. However, going through the career coaching process helped me see that floristry made a lot of sense for me, as one of my main motivators is creating positive experiences for other people.
Once I had more clarity, it gave me the confidence to quit my job and sign-up to do a diploma in floristry – I didn’t know where it would take me, but I had done a few weekend courses which I had loved and I knew I wouldn’t regret doing the diploma, even if it didn’t turn into a career.
What were some of the practicalities you managed when transitioning through your career change?
Money is obviously a major consideration – I have halved my salary and getting my head around that and how I would make it work was a stumbling block for quite a while. I would worry about how I would ever buy a house, but then for me, there was no point in staying in a job that made me miserable so that I could buy a house. It’s been an adjustment, but you just find ways to live within your means.
Which tools did you find helpful and why?
The career coaching was invaluable for me and gave me the understanding of what I wanted from my work and the confidence to go after it. Having self-compassion is also really important, for example, in my mind I’d often think “you can’t just quit your job, that’s ridiculous” and one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is to treat yourself how you’d treat a friend in your situation. Would I have said that to a friend whose job was making them really miserable? Definitely not.
You also just have to believe that everything will work out in the end. It’s not about being super positive all the time as there will be bumps in the road and nothing is perfect, but if you’re putting in the effort then it will be rewarded and something will come along.
Talk through some of the challenges you faced along the way.
Dealing with the uncertainty was probably the hardest part, but you just have to take each day at a time and know that you have options (e.g. temp work, contract work) and knowing that if you give something a go, it doesn’t mean you have to commit to it forever; if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out and you try something else.
How do you feel about your current career, compared to how you felt in the one you left behind?
I’m now working as a marketing and customer service assistant for a florist. I do everything from answering the phone and co-ordinating the deliveries, to managing the website and creating content for Instagram, to installing wedding flowers and organising flower arranging workshops.
I can honestly say I am really really really enjoying it – I love the smile flowers put on someone’s face, I love that sending flowers is always a positive gesture (even if it is to say sorry), I love the variety of things I get to do and I work for a really lovely family-run independent florist, where everyone cares about doing a great job. I am enjoying it more than I could have ever hoped!
What, if anything, do you miss about your previous career?
I genuinely have no regrets – the money side of things is obviously a challenge, but I am so much happier and that is much more important to me.
What were some of the highlights you experienced when making your career change?
My biggest highlight has been making a good friend’s bridal bouquet for her wedding – it was such an honour that she put that trust in me and I was happy with how it turned out.
I really loved my diploma, it was so nice to do something that was so absorbing and completely for me.
I was also lucky enough to take a few months off whilst making the change, which was really great for re-setting my perspective on a lot of things and gave me time to really focus on myself, what I needed and what was important.
What have you learned about yourself through this process?
That I need to be kinder to myself, less self-critical and to worry less about what other people might think. I’ve also learnt that stress, to a certain level, isn’t necessarily a negative thing when it’s driving you towards something you really care about.
What advice would you give to someone who’s considering making a career change?
I’d say try not to worry too much about the future – of course you have to think practically, but if you worry too much about the financial impact, whether you will actually like the new career, or whether you will be happier, then you will scare yourself into never making the change. You need to be open-minded, don’t expect the earth, be willing to try and be prepared to adapt if it doesn’t work out.
If you’re feeling stuck and not sure what to do, I would really recommend trying a career coach – if I hadn’t then I would definitely still be crying into my cup of tea at my desk!
And finally, what are you excited about over the next few months?
Over the next few months I’m going to be getting more hands-on floristry experience, which I am really excited about!