Karen Chambers, aka @fiercewellbeing, was a hugely successful producer working in the fast paced world of live TV, until her body made her consider a career – and a life – shift to a much slower pace. Here’s how she did it, and her tips for anyone considering a change.[restrict]
I worked in the exciting and fast paced world of television production for over ten years producing and directing for major channels. As a child I grew up on a diet of 1980s Saturday morning TV. Often pretending to co-present with Philip Schofield, in the 1990s I was hooked on ‘yoof’ television programmes like The Word.
It was a no-brainer for me to study for a media studies degree, and after constant rejection, I eventually became a researcher in the buzzing world of live television. I loved my job. It was creative, dynamic and eventually I became a producer working in children’s TV, documentaries and news.
There was no average working day: Long anti-social hours, shoots on location (cue 3am wake-up calls) and juggling last minute deadlines was my norm. As a mainly freelance industry, the lack of job security always left me, and fellow colleagues, in a constant state of low-level anxiety.
I started to noticed changes in my body early on. My periods were out of balance. I always caught colds and struggled with IBS and food intolerances. Being a ‘light’ smoker and a regular at team drinks was not the best way to manage stress. I was burnt out, but with no sick leave, I would always soldier on because for the most part, I enjoyed the job.
For years I had experimented with various alternative therapies to help with managing stress, an interest that had developed over the years as I read more and more books on nutrition and holistic health.
On a shoestring budget, I took trips to Bali and Thailand, where I was blown away by my experiences with yoga, nutritious foods and holistic healing. A week-long detox helped me quit smoking after 17 years, and I ate healthier. I felt happier and more balanced. Something inside of me was crying out for a slower pace, one where I could put my health first and help others to do the same.
It takes a huge leap of faith to give up a career that you have worked hard for. But that was the exact jump that mother of two Lyndsay Kenwright, from London, took. After working in television and journalism in Australia for ten years she changed direction.
“My old career was very exciting, fast-paced and creative, but also overwhelming and over-stimulating,” said Lyndsay. “I seek truth and authenticity in life, but this wasn’t reflected in my work. I moved back to London and worked in news but working overnight shifts took its toll on my body, when I became pregnant I left.
“Teaching yoga was a natural transition for me after practicing for 20 years. I knew I wanted to share the magic with as many people as possible. In January, I signed up for a 200 hour yoga teacher training which took place during lockdown.
“Now qualified, I teach yoga in a studio and online and I’ve returned to writing as a freelance journalist. For now, this suits me and I am embracing a new way of living and working where balance is key,” Lyndsay continued.
A change of pace
After much brainstorming on my part, I signed up for a diploma in Nutritional Therapy and Naturopathy, part-time, for three years. I was full of fear but also excited.
I formed a plan – the £13k fees would have to be paid in instalments and I took out a career development loan. I still worked crazy hours during the week then every other Saturday and Sunday I attended college all day. In year three I reduced work to 3.5 days a week, just about enough money to cover bills, fees and the mortgage on my London flat.
The next three years were the most challenging and yet rewarding of my life.
I met other students on the same journey and we supported each other when it all got too much. When I completed the course I popped open a bottle of champagne but I was also scared about the future. What do I do now? I didn’t have a clue about how to set up a business, market myself or find clients.
I thought that the clients would come running – they didn’t. So as I continued to work in TV I read a lot of business books, followed a lot of ‘experts’ and in the end I sought out the help of Vicky Shilling, a Dublin-based business coach who works with wellbeing entrepreneurs. Vicky coached me in so many things that I hadn’t considered in running a business.
Now my days are filled with coaching clients one-to-one, who just like me, had lost their balance through stress, poor nutrition and unhealthy lifestyles. My past career hasn’t been wasted. I now write and produce content on nutrition, but on my own terms. It’s been a long road, but I’ve actually designed the life I want and I couldn’t be happier.
Karen’s advice if you’re considering a career change
1 – Save even just a small pot of money before you leap. By leaping into the unknown I increased my stress levels tenfold. If you are retraining, speak to the accredited associations or learning providers for options before signing up.
2 – If you’re stuck on what you want to transition to, a great tip from Fiona Harrold, author of Be Your Own Life Coach, is to list five activities that you did as a child without question.
3 – To feel less isolated if you are studying or planning your business, join online networks, Facebook groups or take advantage of co-working spaces (I do) to keep the creative energy, ideas flowing.
3- Find people out there who are doing it already. Not just shiny Instagram accounts, but people who are actively writing, talking, hosting online sessions, sharing their own career transition journey. Seek them out and pay attention.
4 – Taking a pay cut when you start a new career is not easy. Can you hold onto your old job working reduced hours? Or can you transfer existing skills to a new role?
5 – If you have the idea but just can’t see how you can make any money from it, road test it on trusted friends and family. You could create a simple survey and ask the admin of a relevant Facebook group to post on your behalf (I did this when setting up my business). The feedback will be invaluable.
Find Karen online www.fiercewellbeing.com and on Instagram here.
You can follow Lyndsay on Instagram or her FB page, where you can book onto her online classes.
Mention this article for your first class free of charge!
All imagery courtesy of Karen Chambers[/restrict]