Life-changing career shit: what would you do?

When I turned 40 earlier this month, I had a little boo-hoo moment about how I’m not as rich as I thought I’d be at this stage in my life. Now, please don’t start – I am all over the perspective issue. And I’m truly grateful we not living in an A4 envelope in the gutter.

But the bottom line is that I gave up my comfortable wage in my corporate communications career to become a freelance writer at the age of 39 which, while potentially the boldest and best move I have ever made, is not really bothering my accountant with too many zeros just yet. (Okay, when I say ‘accountant’, I mean me with my shoes and socks off.)

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Then, last week, a job appeared before me. It was almost perfect. Exactly the sort of work I would choose to do. Pay was on the low side, but still more than what I’m earning now. I called up to ask some questions and before I knew it, I had an interview. The woman I spoke to even said the words, “If ever there has been someone perfect for a job, it’s you and this one.” (Sure, she was not a master of the spoken word, but I took it as a compliment.)

Then, in typical Carolyn-style (think Ally McBeal if she liked pies), I overanalysed every aspect of this sucker and what it would mean for me if I was offered the position. Then I skipped pilates, drank beer, and came up with a list of pros and cons.

Pros

  • I could pay someone to mop my floors for the first time since 2012 (I’ve mopped them since then, but I haven’t paid anyone – although I haven’t mopped them since 2013.).
  • I could outsource the seven piles of washing that are sitting in my bedroom waiting for someone to notice them.
  • I could get Kelly Stoakes to give me a fabulous ombre colour involving words like ‘caramel’ and ‘honey’ instead of the Coles “Brown Brown, Prices are Brown” I have right now.
  • I could work regular hours and then come home and think about home things.
  • I could buy diamonds and jets and not wonder where grocery money was going to come from this week.

Cons

  • I would only get to hang with my kids on the weekends, and maybe for an hour each evening (and that precious bonus hour Little Red has decided to spend screaming at me in the middle of the night)
  • My professional destiny and sense of worth would again be in the hands of someone else, which I have always struggled with
  • I wouldn’t be able to take holidays and days off, or go and help at the school tuckshop whenever I want. (Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, just kidding. I will never volunteer in a fucking tuckshop. Children are feral animals in that setting. *Shudder*)
  • I wouldn’t know if there were bugs in my pasta.

Perhaps I should explain: while I was working at home yesterday, I noticed a crackling sound coming from the new bag of orzo I had bought to make minestrone. Upon investigation, it was full of little black bugs. This would have gone unnoticed if I worked elsewhere. We could have eaten the bugs, had them breed in our stomachs and then burst open Alien-style,  guts flying everywhere.

My whole family could have exploded.

It was the bugs in the pasta that tipped it. That, and the fact that I grew up in a single parent household where my awesome mum had to work long hours so we could get by. I missed her a lot, and I don’t want that to be my kids.

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And I don’t want to be too busy to live. To enjoy hanging with my very handsome husband, to play Octonauts and jump on the trampoline with my kids (pelvic floor willing), and to have stuff that’s just for me – like this wonderful little community of working mums we have created at Champagne Cartel.

Should I have gone for the interview anyway to see what would happen? Probably. But I’m just not someone who can phone shit in. If I’m not into what I’m doing, it shows, and that would just be awks for everyone.

So I’ve committed to the freelance life, at least for now. I will write, edit, and social media manage for food (or money, preferably money). Call me!

Have you made any life-changing career calls? How did it work out? What would you do in my situation?

Written By

Carolyn is the editorial director of Champagne Cartel and a freelance writer. In her spare time she is a long-distance runner, peanut butter enthusiast, and single mum to three incredible humans.

47 Comments

  • I’m a little concerned about your post, Champagne Carolyn. I’m mostly concerned that you said you’d “write for food”. Is this what you’ve become? Pedestrian and derivative? I would have put money on the fact that you would only write for champagne!

    I think you know in your heart that you’ve made a great decision. You won’t look back and remember how much money you didn’t have, but you probably would look back and regret the time not spent doing the things that make you happy. I remember a priest (never usually an awesome source of life advice) saying that at the over 1500 deathbeds he’s sat at, he’s never once heard someone regret not spending more time on their career, but plenty of people regret not spending time with loved ones, taking life slowly, savouring moments and so on.

    You will always be able to get a job – you’re too talented to be overlooked! And maybe that’s something you’ll want to do later. Maybe not. For now, you’re doing exactly what you need to be. And hey, if I move back to Aus, I’ve got a ready made babysitter in place!

    xx

  • I’m with you on the tuckshop decision lady. Gahhhhh. I edit for food, for now, in a full-time gig in the city. But I reckon you’ve made an awesome decision, because it’s right, deep down in your guts (which remain happily bug-free). I was freelance for 5 years, and it was fantastic, though with the ebbs and flows of feast or famine I’ve decided to go for a little more predictability in my routine for now. And weekends off! I made it home early the other night, in time for a little jump on the trampoline with the girls. I then ran inside and did 500 kegels, This will be a good move for you. The ones that feel right always are.

    • Ah, thanks Kim! Sounds like you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. And it also sounds like you have found something that works for you, which is great. I am certainly not ruling out heading back to the city some day, but I reckon I can tough it out a bit longer. (Oh, and BTW I also edit so if you ever have any overflow…) 😉

  • As usual I have nothing but the highest praise, admiration and lots of woo-hoo-shoutouts to you my friend. You are so determined and committed to this thing right now and I think you are absolutely bloody awesome. It takes a lot of courage to step out and be authentic to ones self. Well actually it takes a lot of maturity to even KNOW who your authentic self is. So good on ya. I’ll shout us a bottle of bubbly to celebrate. (It’ll probably be Jacobs Creek or something. I’m broke too hahahahahah). And while you’re going around town in your kmart rags and thongs with socks, at least you know you are being true to yourself.

  • Carolyn, I can relate to this post so well because I did the same thing at the end of last year when I chose to decline an 8-month long job on a big TV show. Sure, the consistent income (and good money) would have been great, but I knew that my dreams would fall by the wayside and another year would be spent dreading Mondays, being at work for too much of my day, and putting myself further behind.

    I feel as though it’s so important to stand up every now and again and back our dream life over the social norm of what life ‘should’ be like. Congrats to you, lady!

  • I love this, Carolyn! You always crack me up. We would miss you too much if you disappeared into the corporate haze…don’t go! Stay, and keep writing things like “brown brown, prices are brown,” because it makes our day. It doesn’t matter if you have to drink Yellow instead of Bolli, darling – it still does the job 😉 Big hugs to you and your fabulous talent xx

  • I really get where you’re coming from Carolyn. I don’t have the kids and family part of things as part of my decision making, but the thought of going back to the same type job that I left because it was slowly killing me is not one that I’ve been willing to do. I do get concerned about the money side of things and had been considering taking on odd jobs here or there to get by, particularly ones that used my previous skill sets that pay quite well. So far though I’ve managed to resist two job offers that were handed to me on a platter – they would have been ‘safe’ choices, but just not good for me. Saying no to them wasn’t easy because my mortgage scares me, but I’m glad that for now I can remain 100% focussed on my dream career direction.

  • Every now and then a job comes up and I play with the idea of it… nothing as perfect as the one you came across, but the decision has always been to stay at home with my kids and I’m grateful that so far I’ve been able to do exactly that.

  • Not yet, but after our catch up you might talk me into it!!!!! I love your writing and as per usual it has me in hysterics. Good on you for standing by what you want from life for you and your kids. It’s not an easy thing to do. Meanwhile, I can’t wait to do school tuckshop.

  • This is such a timely post, my maternity leave ends in a few months time and I’m trying to make the big decision – will I return to work or not. To add to my anxiety I’ve also sent for first pitch to a mag off this week – eek! The biggest con on my list is my position has to be full time & is based in the city. The thought of at least an hour travel each way (thanks M1) and my boys having to be in daycare 10/11hrs a day is my biggest worry.

  • I’d like to be in the position to make a life changing career decision. I think you made the right decision personally. I have had to downscale all things and try to make some money from home and its been a good move. My health can only take so much.

  • At the end of the day you made the right decision for you. 40 is still young and you have plenty of years to add to the bank balance, but your kids are only little for so long. I hope you can find the right balance with your freelance career and looking after your family.

  • I giggled all the way through – you write in such an engaging manner. You have made the right decision for you and that is all that matters. I am thinking about a career change – just cannot decide.

  • Lambrusco is the one you need to worry about, one shouldn’t speak disparagingly of Passion Pop! Wow, it’s like being in high school all over again except now I like Stones – a shot in my beer is fabulous.
    Full heart or full bank account – its the kind of question that your ‘friend’ Clive would feed on, but since you know deep down you’re doing the right thing I’m sure Clive is going hungry (possibly quite tipsy though!)

    • Oh, you’re a wise woman Jaz! Funny thing, my brother was at a Chinese restaurant a while ago and on the table toppers they had the wine of the week: Passion Pop – for something like $25 a bottle. Ha! (Of course, he stole the table topper and brought it home.) So onto casks of lambrusco for me, then. Let me know when you’re coming around. 😉

  • You can climb back onto the corporate merry go round later if necessary. I am currently girding myself to ask for every Monday off. 33 hours is just too many. I can’t cope. And mine are much older than yours.

  • You made the best decision, I would not give up my freelance gig for all the tea in China, mainly because I prefer wine, but still! It’s nice to have that flexibility and once the kids are older we can sink our teeth in to other stuff, but they need us, I do believe that. And if our careers suffer, well they will flourish and had better get bloody good jobs to look after as because the only freelance gig we now have is writing the horoscope!!! 🙂

  • OMG you are ME!!! We are one and the same. I struggle with this thought often too, usually when the bills come in and I miss my corporate salary. But then the fact I get to do pretty much what I want when I want and spend as much time with the hubby and kids reminds me that I chose this way for a reason xx

    • YES! That’s pretty awesome, really, isn’t it. The only thing is that the things I want to do cost more money than I have. But that will change, and I don’t need to be a spoiled little snot about it. I was just thinking you and I are one and the same the other day – we seem to have the same hair. Perhaps we should do one of those creepy wife swaps and see if our families notice. 🙂

  • Yep, I made a pretty big life changing career call…going from a career person to a full time stay at home mum. I never ever thought I would, I was always in my mind going to go back to work, I did try running my own business but for different reasons it wasn’t for me and I looked at it from a family perspective. It was less about the money, it was most certainly not about living in a nice big house because we ended up selling that for a smaller and older one, it was about quality of life, being happy and getting to spend time with my son. I’ve made a complete turn around from working in Occupational Health & Safety and Quality Management (BORING!) to blogging and writing and hope that one day I can be paid for it. The difference between the two is that I love what I do now, even though I’m not getting paid…..but that would be nice and help us out a lot!

  • You went with your gut mamma, that is where the delicious food is. Love your writing funny honest and true. Keep blogging. That photo is so gorgeous lil red is scrumptious. Popping by from Mummy Mondays.

  • I want both. I want the full-time job, the leaving the mess and chaos of home at home while I work. But I want to be there for my kids and hit save on something to go and give a piggyback ride and point my fingers and do the twist. I WANT IT ALL! (And sleep. I want sleep too.)

  • I know that I’m very late to the party on this post…but it’s procrastination day and I’m reading old posts.

    I gave up a finance career in 2012. It had been a long slog of climbing, climbing, climbing the corporate ladder and spending most of my twenties stressed.

    I started studying Communications (PR & Journo) and immediately knew this is what I should have been doing all along. I now juggle part-time work, a child, a husband and study.

    I had to change my perspective on success and money but I have never regretted that decision I made two years ago. I’m a better person because of it. My family gets the best of me. (Most of the time).

    • That’s so great, Shannon! I love hearing stories like that. Since I wrote that post, I have recently accepted a job but it is one that I absolutely love and it aligns with everything I was doing – and want to do in the future – so it doesn’t feel like a compromise like going back to corporate would have. Congratulations on being brave enough to make that change – may your success and happiness be life-long. xx

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