Changing career at 40, from nursing to freelance writer.

Changing career at 40, it’s not always about starting over, but listening to yourself, embracing your strengths and skills, and putting them to use in a different way.

Growing up and having “careers advice” at school and college, I truly believed that I would get my education, choose a profession, and that would be it, that would be the order of events.  A career for life or so I thought.

In my 20’s working full time as a Nurse, it never occurred to me that I would be looking to pursue a different career later in life.  I thought nursing would be my life, and that I would be in the profession until I retired.

However, twenty years later, and here I am, the creator of my own business, blogging, and offering a bespoke writing service to entrepreneurs and small businesses.

It often comes into conversation when I meet someone for the first time, either at a networking meeting or business event.  Naturally they ask about my business, and whether I have always been a writer.  It is often the assumption that I may have been in a creative role in the corporate world, prior to making the decision to fly solo and embrace self-employment.   And this is the case for many of the business owners I meet; they’ve stepped out of that world, gone independent, and are now working for themselves in the same profession.

When I explain that my background was in general nursing and occupational health, and then as a stay-at-home mum, it’s not unusual to see a look of intrigue and curiosity on the face of the person who I’m talking to.  The two seem so far removed from each other don’t they?

So how do you go from nursing to becoming a freelance writer and blogger?

Well in all honesty I wasn’t totally sure myself, hence the reason for this blog.  I’ve spent some time journaling about this lately, and I wanted to share with you what I discovered.

In my last employed job before I left to stay at home with my son who was at preschool at the time, I was working in the field of Occupational Health, as a Specialist Nurse Advisor.   I spent my days interviewing employees about their health and well-being, advising on adjustments in the workplace, and supporting them whether they were acutely or chronically unwell, or sadly had a life-limiting condition.

Spending time with those in my care, I had the privilege of listening and learning about their situation and their story.  Connecting all the pieces of the jigsaw together, I spent time crafting reports that would assist them and their employer to support them in the work environment.   Writing was integral to my role at that time, albeit factual reports, as opposed to anything creative.

It meant that I was often the intermediary.  I was an independent voice.  Being external to the situation meant that I wasn’t caught up in any internal dialogue, and it was as though I was looking into a window of their lives, and reporting the findings.

In my professional career as a Nurse I learnt how important it was to be an advocate, to be someone else’s voice, especially for those who did not have the capacity.

So in many ways this is what I do now.

I hear how other business owners struggle to write their own story, or push themselves forward into the limelight and showcase them in their business when they are creating content for their web, newsletter, or blog.  And I totally understand this, even as a writer I sometimes find this difficult.  We can just be too close to it.

In my business now, I can be that voice for those who find it a challenge to put into words why they do what they do.  I offer a different perspective, and I value the importance of developing that trust with a client, so that I am then able to capture their words and create engaging content for them.

My background may not be in marketing, branding or copywriting, and the degrees I have relate to professional nursing qualifications; however the skills and training I have acquired throughout my professional life now shine through in my every day work as a Creative Writer, and even more so when I’m working one to one with clients.

Although the worlds of being a nurse and that of a writer on the surface seem poles apart, the skills and qualities I demonstrated as a nurse, now serve me very well in my business.  Spending time listening intently, building trust and meaningful working relationships, along with offering a professional and quality service, are the very foundations of my business.

I suppose what I have learnt from all of this is if we really want to pursue something different in terms of a career, whether it’s to suit our lifestyle, personal circumstances or to live out a dream, it is possible.  Age is definitely not an obstacle, nor is your past career history, it’s never too late to try something new.

It’s not always about starting over, but listening to yourself and embracing your strengths and skills, and putting them to use in a different way.

Until next time, be truly you!

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