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JENI ALEXANDER: Changing careers isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. I know, I did it.

By Jeni Alexander

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Jennifer Alexander, Partner. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Jennifer Alexander, Partner. Picture: James Mackenzie.

Sharon Leon managing director Jeni Alexander discusses what it’s like to change careers, and why we should adopt a ‘go for it’ attitude in life.

When I became a teacher, I thought I was set for life. A good career, a good pension, and teaching a subject that I loved. Why would I want to change? But one day while I was teaching, I remember thinking ‘I don’t want to do this anymore’. So, I decided to switch lanes in life, with no clue what I would do next. I bought a house in Inverness without even seeing it and drove back from London with my life packed into my car…and 20 years later I am so glad I made that decision.

I was certainly in a privileged position: I was single, had savings, and my mum and dad were in Inverness. But it was still tough to step into the unknown. So, if you are feeling the same way, here are a few things that I learned along the way…

Making a decision is easier than ruminating on one

The tough part before making a choice, is the run-up to it. Before I made the choice to quit my job, I had so much flying around my head. What skills did I have? What did I not have? What was I going to do when I was back in Inverness?

The process before was scary, and I didn’t know where I was going to get a job. But once I had made the decision to move, I felt more peaceful about it as the wheels were in motion. The thought is always worse than the actual jump…so don’t delay. Make that decision and those fears and restless thoughts will begin to get quieter.

Skills are transferable

We can get pigeon-holed into a career when we have been doing it for a long time. But sometimes we just want a change in what we are doing: not because we are unhappy, but because we just want something new. And that can be refreshing. But does it mean the skills that have been built up in previous jobs are wasted? Certainly not. Skills are transferable. There were so many skills that I built up during teaching that still apply to my career now. So, look at what you have to offer if you are seeking change. You probably have a lot more in your toolbelt than you think you do!

Surround yourself with positive people

If you are making life choices, or you want to just try a new hobby or activity then you need to surround yourself with people who bring positivity into life. There are people in this world who are joy-bringers, and thrill seekers. Those are the people who are going to cheer you on from the sidelines and give you words of encouragement when you doubt yourself. It is so important to have people that believe in you!

Say yes to things!

How often do we say no? Start saying yes to things! Whether that be a new activity or a walk outside instead of bingeing Netflix. Taking up more opportunities creates more possibilities. Change isn’t easy and we are creatures of habit! But give it a go anyway – you can always go back to what you were doing before.

If you have a dream – whether that be a job or a hobby just try it! Life is short, and we have one go at this. You are never going to know if you don’t give it a try.

It turns out that the journey with all my belongings in the back of my car was so worth it. I gained the best things in my life: my husband and three children.

Go on then – give it a go.

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