Beginnings by Claire Stafford

My finger hovered over the ‘Post’ button for ages. In my head I was having a right old debate about
whether I should press it; “What happens if nothing happens?” What if someone responds and I
can’t help them or worse I fail?” “Just bloody press it Claire!”
So I did. I pressed ‘Post’ and in that moment all I wanted to do was reach out into the ether and take
it back, because we know once it’s out there its gone, right? What had I opened myself up for? And
the platform I’d posted on wasn’t scary at all. I joined on an online community called The Dots for
creative people like you and me, although calling myself a ‘creative’ feels like a white lie. So I
checked, and according to the dictionary, a creative is ‘a person whose job involves creative work’.
As an adjective, creative ‘relates to or involves the use of imagination or original ideas to create
something’. Ok I think I qualify, so back to The Dots. It’s similar to Linkedin in so far as you can
connect with people but it’s far more than that. It’s creative in design; naturally, you can share ideas,
connect to people and companies, look for work and offer work. I offered my services as a writer,
free whilst I built my portfolio and gained enough experience.
The post was my leap into the unknown, my beginning. A real, action orientated beginning of
moving from a permanent Corporate Communications role to a new role or portfolio of careers. My
theoretical beginning was probably two years ago. I’d taken a sabbatical to sail in a yacht race round
the world and came back frankly, lost at sea, if you excuse the pun. If you have done anything wild,
adventurous or even been outside your comfort zone you may have felt this sense of “what next?”
or dreaded the thought of going back to a normal 9-5. But you do because you have to earn money
to live, right? Well yes, however for me it ignited a thread of a dream I had years ago when living in
London – how could I do what made me happy without sacrificing my mind and soul to the rat race
till I retired? Security and stability are important; can this only be achieved with a ‘corporate’ life
though? To follow risky and unstable can scare the likes of you and me who want that ‘other life’. I
believe though in this day and age and even more so with COVID-19, nothing is safe and secure. No
one is indispensable any more. Nowhere is safe so why not take a risk? Perhaps a calculated risk.
I don’t often think before I leap, the yacht race is a case in point, and I knew if I truly wanted a
different life I was going to need support, guidance and tools to help me find the thing that makes
me happy, and enough money to live comfortably. For some people changing career can happen
overnight, but in the main it takes hard work, perseverance and an attitude that can see you through
the bumps in the road. So I embarked on an eight week career change course, not without a little bit
of trepidation to be honest. “Is eight weeks long enough to come out knowing what I want to do?”
Will I be able to find enough time to do ‘homework’ each week?” “I have too many ideas and no way
of seeing through them to discover the possible”. And it turns out many people on the course had
the same worries and fears. We were, and still are, a community in it together. I diligently did my
homework; missions and exercises although some seemed either quite easy or weird. I joined a
weekly group Saturday Zoom call where we shared our week’s progress. Had we been successful or
struggled? What had we felt and learnt through the process? I admit some of it felt a bit ‘spiritual’ or
‘deep’ to me, a pretty practical and straight forward kind of woman.
As the course neared its end, and with COVID-19 taking our focus away at times, I realised I didn’t
want the course to end. It felt too quick, I hadn’t figured it all out yet. Don’t leave me! I’m inherently

lazy and knew motivating myself was going to be difficult without the group, exercises and calls to
keep me straight.
After our last call, which honestly felt like a break up, I reflected and realised that the course was in
fact a gift. Everything we’d learnt about ourselves, the tools the course gave us, and the community
we’d created were going to be my motivation to move ever closer to what makes my heart sing. I
learnt three important things from the course that keep me on track; first, any action I make
towards a career change, however small, is a step in the right direction; second, I need to keep
finding people doing the kind of jobs I think I might like to do and talk to them about their career,
and third, you never know where a conversation or a click will take you. My click on The Dots has
taken me here, writing for you.

A little bit about the author:

Claire spends her time in the corporate world advising leaders on how best to talk to and engage employees but longs to slip the mask off the end of the day and work on becoming a full time writer. Interested in journalism and geopolitics, wildlife and nature inspire her, she writes poetry, loves cycling and dancing to house music.


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