Many women are thinking of transitioning from a corporate career to doing something they love. You may have have been ploughing the same furrows and ended up in a career that is not fulfilling the way you would have hoped for.
Why wouldn’t you want more! At DrivenWoman we believe it’s OK to want a bigger life. If you are considering a career change or are generally unhappy at your job, ask yourself if your personal values are aligned with the company you work for. Do you feel genuine joy doing the work you do? And how do you want to define success in your own life?
I had a privilege to interview Stine Dulong, a former city lawyer who is now following a more creative path having become a full time ceramic artist and the founder of pottery brand Skandihus. Stine’s work has been showcased in the pages of British Vogue and exhibited in top London restaurants. Three years ago Stine left her high paying job in the City to transform her career to do work that she truly loves.
What made you leave your corporate career as a lawyer and pursue your passion of pottery?
I had been feeling unhappy and unfulfilled in my job for years. I remember being out for dinner with a friend, complaining about my job as I always would. She said to me: “Stine, you get one shot at life, don’t waste yours”. I think this was the moment that I started planning my “escape”. I saved up for a year to give myself the chance to take a break without having to work and I also signed up for lots of evening classes in various creative fields. I had always wanted to be an artist. I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I knew what I DIDN’T want to do.
When I quit, I slowed down and started focusing on the things around me that gave me a sense of fulfilment. One of those things was my evening pottery classes. I remember when I touched the clay in my first class, it was like I’d arrived home. I can’t describe it any other way. I started waking up at night thinking about new designs I wanted to make. Slowly the pottery took over my world and when I was making, I was there in the moment. For the first time in my life, looking at it in hindsight, I stopped running away from things. I stopped looking for the next thing that was going to fulfil the emptiness I was feeling inside.
What was your biggest fear when setting up Skandihus?
I don’t actually think that I had a fear of failing as I didn’t look at it in those terms. SkandiHus for me wasn’t about it being successful. It was about me suddenly doing something that felt meaningful and gave me a sense of fulfilment. Having said this, maybe I did have a fear that no one would buy my work. Only because it would’ve meant having to go back to an office job when my savings ran out! That was a pretty good motivator to work hard, I have to say.
How did you manage the transition and how long did it take?
I think my biggest challenge was actually respecting myself as an (at the time) unsuccessful potter and come to terms with the new me who wasn’t a hot shot lawyer. It took me a good year to realise that this classic notion of what success is just didn’t fit with what I wanted from my life. I also struggled a lot with a constant sense of guilt for enjoying what I was doing and not feeling completely stressed and overwhelmed all the time. It was a feeling of “surely a job can’t feel this good and easy”.
I don’t have those feelings anymore but instead I sometimes forget to make the most of my freedom to do things when I want to do them. It’s very easy to end up working all the time when you work for yourself and do something you love.
Stine’s five secrets to successfully transitioning from a corporate career to doing work you love
1) Don’t try to do everything at once
It gets overwhelming and you end up not getting much done. Write a list of manageable tasks each week and be accountable to yourself.
2) Don’t forget to enjoy the journey
Too many people are only focused on the end result and the fact is, we rarely end up where we think that we will.
3) Don’t be scared of making a career change
Often the skills you have acquired in previous careers are exactly what will make you stand out and succeed. I use both my marketing and legal skills almost on a daily basis and I’m certain that I would not have been as successful as quickly, had it not been for those skills. Also, remember that it is hard work starting out on your own. There’s no way about it.
But if you do what you love, you’ll find a way to be successful with it. Passion goes a long way towards success.
4) Join a women’s network like Driven Woman
I set up my own networking group, The Female Creatives, of female entrepreneurs in the creative fields and the support I’ve been getting from them has been invaluable. When you are transitioning from a corporate career it is important to surround yourself with like-minded people. But there’s no need to set up your own as there are brilliant women’s networks around, such as DrivenWoman.
5) Remember that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing
Sometimes just taking an hour out of your day to do something you enjoy (whether that’s a walk in the park, signing up for an evening class etc) can make a big difference to how fulfilled we feel.
Take time to listen to yourself and your needs.
If you feel now is the time for transitioning from a corporate career to something more exciting you will find support and strategies to make your transition successful at DrivenWoman.
~ Miisa Mink interviewed Stine Dulong, founder of SkandiHus