Here is an interview with my dear coaching colleague Jade Herriman. Jade lives in Australia and dared to leave her old job to follow her dream. She now combines Creativity and Coaching to a very successfull mixture. Get inspired by her story!
Do you also know a person who successfully started a second career? I would like to hear their story. We all need good examples and role models. Please share and write me a note HERE.
Hello Jade, please tell us something about your career change. What made you feel it was time to change your career?
Although I worked in the environmental sustainability field I noticed that the work that energized me most was the work I did with people that was about communication and decision-making. I became less and less interested in technologies and more and more interested in the role of organisations and individuals in affecting change.
I loved designing and facilitating workshops, preparing public participation processes, supervising teams, and mentoring more junior staff. I started to wonder if maybe I could find a role that played to my strengths by including more of this people-focused work more than the one that I was in.
In addition, I have always loved art and been interested in psychology and healing. I started to wonder if I could work in a way that would bring all these things together.
What steps did you go through? How did you prepare?
The process was a slow one for me, with a lot of change taking place beneath the surface. Over a period of several years I began to engage more consistently with my own art making – joining classes, and sharing work on social media. I also enrolled in an art therapy course that I could do part time while I was still working. At that stage I didn’t have a firm plan for changing careers but I knew that in the longer term I wanted change of some kind.
I worked with several coaches, therapists and mentors to help process the change and also the grief and discomfort at leaving something familiar behind. I had worked for a long time in the field I was in, and am really passionate about it, so I felt a little bit like I was ‘failing’ by walking away from it. On the other hand I had to recognize that my interest in learning new things was no longer being stimulated by the role I was in, and the stress of doing tasks I no longer enjoyed was taking a toll on my health.
Where did you find support? How did your family and partner react?
I had a lot of wonderful practical support from my partner, some close friends, and the mentors, coaches and therapists I worked with. I also found great support in the fellow students I met while studying both art therapy and coaching and in the ‘tribes’ of art making people I began to connect with in various platforms online.
I think some people around me were surprised that I would leave a stable and well paying role to do something so different, and worried for my financial wellbeing, and whether I would be lonely or under-stimulated working by myself rather than in an office with other people.
What was the biggest obstacle and how did you overcome it?
In some ways I think my biggest obstacle was letting go of my strong connection to the role I was in and believing that change was possible. Time and support, plus consistent effort helped me move through this, as did my body telling me how exhausted the current situation was making me.
What do you recommend to people who are thinking about a career change?
SOCIAL Start making connections with the new area you want to work in – research it, meet people, network, join groups, study something. It makes it more ‘real’ and helps build your skills and confidence. Find your tribe, build your new networks before you leave the old.
FINANCIAL Start saving – give yourself a financial buffer that will last at least 6 months, or plan to take a ‘good enough job’ that will see you through the transition while you look for work, or ‘start from the bottom’ in your new field.
EMOTIONAL Don’t underestimate the emotional impact of change – you might find yourself grieving the old, even if you’re ready to leave it. Work often relates strongly to identity so it can also challenge us to think about who we are.
What are the benefits of giving art more room in your life?
I think giving creativity more room in our lives helps us become more playful, relaxed and innovative in many ways. Whether that creativity is expressed through knitting or cooking, starting a business, or planting a flower garden or writing a song, or doing a drawing. ‘Art’ is a very loaded word that many people think belongs only to the extremely talented or the professional artist. I think to think of creativity as belonging to all of us – and we have lots of different ways we can express it.
How could people implement easy to do art in their weekly workflow? What suggestions do you have for everybody?
· Consider using art to explore your feelings and thoughts – in your journal, or when you are feeling particularly confused or stuck.
· If you like to draw, carry a small sketchbook with you in your bag along with some basic supplies wherever you go. Do a quick sketch in a coffee shop or while you’re sitting on a train.
· Join a project or challenge to help you focus your art making and build new habits over a set period of time. For example, creating an image every day for a month, writing a page a day on your book. Find somewhere to share your progress and get support.
· Connect with work that inspires you – visit a museum or read books about people whose work you love, go to a poetry reading or join social media groups where people share inspiring work. If you make this a habit or routine (eg visit an art museum once a month with a friend) it will be easier to stick with it when life gets busy.
· Don’t forget to refill your creative well by going on what Julia Cameron calls ‘Artist Dates’ – doing something by yourself regularly that you love, that delights the senses and is simply for your enjoyment.
Jade works with people who want to get to know themselves in new ways, heal, make decisions and create change in their lives. With a background in sustainability she is also interested in how we connect with the earth, mentally, emotionally and through our actions. Jade is an artist, art teacher, coach and art therapist. She works with clients face to face, by Skype and in groups.
Jade’s own personal arts practice involves textiles, found objects, paint, resin, and mixed media. Please visit her website to learn more about her work.
Art therapy, Coaching and Creative Play
mobile: +61 ( 0)420 980 178