THIS. I’ve done something already this morning that I’ve been procrastinating on (fear disguised as lack of time) after reading this blog post. Thank you Lucy, for offering to share your experience of doing Game Changers in January this year and so much more xxx
I stumbled upon Guilty Mothers Club and the Game Changers programme towards the end of last year, while looking online for training that would help me find a more flexible and fulfilling career. At 36, with my husband and I both working full-time and two young daughters aged 6 and 2, I had reached a point in my life where I felt completely stuck career-wise.
I’ve worked in marketing for around 15 years and during that time worked my way up achieve a job as a senior marketing manager in a large higher education institution. However, after returning from maternity leave with my second daughter in 2015, I knew I didn’t see my future there. Despite a huge amount of support from my husband and parents, who I am extremely fortunate to have living nearby, the constant juggling and mental load was taking a massive toll on my well-being and home life. When a job came up locally for a marketing manager role within a school, I jumped at the opportunity. The new job meant a big drop in salary, but I felt relieved to be able to leave the stresses of my old job and gain a better work-life balance.
Life in my new job was going well; I wasn’t under so much pressure, I enjoyed working in a school environment and despite still working full-time my life had regained some balance. However, around 18 months on my lovely dad fell ill fairly suddenly and was diagnosed with cancer. Watching him undergo six months of gruelling chemotherapy was extremely difficult for the whole family, and made me realise that my parents may not always be around to support me in the future. I also realised that life is extremely short; waiting for the ‘right time’ to take action might just mean that it is too late.
For as long as I can remember I have had a dream to work for myself and establish my own business. I have watched friends and colleagues do it, and always admired them from a distance while thinking “I’ll do that one day.” I’ve previously considered going freelance as a marketing consultant but self-doubt, the crippling fear of the unknown and all the ‘what ifs’ have always held me back.
Signing up to the Game Changers programme in January this year was the first major step towards me finally getting started. I met a small group of other like-minded mums, most of whom were looking for support to change their own lives for the better and create a game change that worked for them. The course is well-structured and the guided online workshops led to some real ‘lightbulb’ moments. I quickly realised why I had been so unhappy at my previous employer; their culture simply didn’t match my own values. Encouraged by the weekly challenges, I bought a new notebook and began journaling – writing things down has really helped me to gain perspective and greater clarity on my goals.
Through the course, my confidence grew and I realised the importance of self care. I had been neglecting myself for years and putting everyone else’s needs first. That’s what mums do, right? No wonder I was feeling so burned out. I’ve since started to exercise again regularly and am training for the Race for Life 5k in June to raise money for Cancer Research UK. I’m also using the Headspace app to meditate for 5 minutes every evening and I feel so much better for it. I’ve even created a new Instagram blog (@mummy.kind) to remind me of the importance of being kind to myself, and hopefully spread a little kindness to other mums.
Towards the end of the programme there is a section that covers the practicalities of making your game change happen, like finances and support, and helps you put plans in place to overcome any obstacles. There’s also support with goal setting and planning. Breaking things down into really small chunks was so helpful, and suddenly my ambition to become self-employed seems a lot less scary and more achievable.
Like many parents, my main motivation for wanting to become self-employed is to be able to fit my work around my family commitments. My youngest daughter will start school next year and I don’t want to have to rely on my parents for as much support. Thankfully, my dad responded well to his chemo and is beginning to regain his fitness (which is a good job, as my daughters love giving him the runaround!!), and my wish for him and my mum is that they will be able to fully enjoy their retirement together.
I’ve loved the Game Changers programme and was genuinely sad when it came to an end. I feel like I’ve bonded with several of the other mums and we have a Facebook group where we can continue to support and encourage each other. Since finishing the programme, I have had a really productive conversation with my manager about reducing my hours later this year and felt brave enough to be open and honest about my slightly longer term aspiration to work for myself.
The programme also seems to have reignited my love for learning! I have just started another course with Digital Mums called the Digital Retox, which is equipping me with digital skills that should help me when I do eventually move into working freelance, and I’ve joined an online community of women who are all looking to escape the 9-5 and start their own businesses for support and inspiration.
To any other mums who are considering Game Changers, I’d say ‘go for it!’ It took me weeks of procrastination to finally make the decision to do the course but I’m so glad I did it. Trust in the process, trust in yourself and by the end of the programme you’ll be on the right path.
The next intake of Game Changers starts on Monday 21st May – find out more here.