Careers

Career Change After 40 – Here Is How Too!

Career change allowed me to do what I want every day & what you can learn from me.

Early 2016 I was working for a small company in Newcastle upon Tyne, and I hated it!

For over 20 years I had worked for large international companies and took it for granted. The holiday pay, number of holidays, health care, international business travel, quality training course and in the main good colleagues.  But when you get an itch, sometimes you must scratch it and that is what I did.

Career To Date

My roles had always been in sales and marketing, which fits my personality type well.  I like to make friends and build relationships as well as helping others get what they want.  The whole sales thing was beginning to wear on me and then are only so many times you can motivate yourself to go and perform, you really have to have the “why” and I didn’t.

I managed to work my way into management and then into marketing and liked that for a while.  I was able to work with and learn from some particularly good digital marketing suppliers and colleagues.  But it was not enough!

I decided to take a leap and set up my own business in the forklift industry, something I knew as I had spent 14 years working for companies like Jungheinrich and Toyota Materials Handling.  Under funded and with no customers I had to get a job and guess what I ended up in transport, in Newcastle and miserable.  Please do not ever do what I did in this paragraph.

I truthfully did not know what I wanted to do, and I was lost and frustrated, totally fried. 

My New Career As Taxi Driver In Newcastle

Anyway, I quit and became a taxi driver!

Friends and family were surprised to say the least and wondering if I had lost my mind.  Why would anyone go from a particularly good salary and company car to picking up drunks outside of the Anchor on Wallsend high street?

Well, it gave me time to think, reflect and get some perspective on life.

I took 3 weeks holiday in 3 years, that is perspective for you!

I worked all the hours that God sent and a couple more if he had any spare.  60-hour weeks, getting up at 4.30am, drug addicts, drunks, rich people, poor people old people and even rubber breast for surgeons to practice on all made their way into my taxi.

However, the story does not end here.

While doing all the afore mentioned taxi work, I retrained as a teacher, read 150+ books, listened to 1000’s of hours of podcasts, learnt valuable life lessons and hit a personal best deadlift record of 190kg. 

Oh, and lost 45lbs of fat!

Would I have done this in my previous world as I like to call it?  NO!

Why I became a teacher?

After almost 12 months of taxi’s, I knew I had to do something as I was never going to do this long term, it was always a means to an end.  So, I asked friends and family what they thought I would be good at and it turns out they almost all thought of me as a teacher.

I took this feedback and asked my customers, I had regular clients that I drove most days, so they knew me well.  They all agreed.  I even went onto ask random customers too, its amazing the unbiased feedback you can get from someone you have only known for 15-minute car ride.

I drove the presenter of the True Geordie Podcast, Brian Davis and gave him a brief synopsis of my life to date and he came up with teacher.  I drove an actress, Debbie Honeyword who was at the time working as a teacher and she told me I would be perfect for the job and should go for it.

How Your Mind Works

My mind was made up.

The Ironic thing is that when I was 19 years old I was going to be a P.E Teacher.

I did my due diligence and found the course provider and signed up to start training with them.  The course was a 12-month long mix of 100 hours classroom teaching experience mixed with 26 written assignments.  Please keep in mind I still had bills to pay and that meant 6 days per week and 60 hours of driving along with family life etc.

I did not have the money to pay for the 12-month course in one go as it was £1,200 so I had to pay for it in instalments.  Another financial commitment but an investment in my eyes. 

It was hard beyond belief and worth every single minute of effort and doubt that wreaked havoc in my mind.

Why?

Self-doubt crept in and I often wondered if this was for me, should not I just stay in my lane and get rid of these silly aspirations.  Who am I to want to change careers, you are too old, not intelligent enough, nobody will hire you are all phrases that my evolutionary protective brain cells were telling me?

Not one single person said I could not do it, quite the opposite everyone knew I could.  Even passengers in a 15-minute taxi journey knew I could do it.  I knew I could do it but sometimes the voices of doubt were there.

This is where I think people can sometimes become distracted and give up, it is the why me?  I look at it now from the other side of the coin and think why not me.  If not me then who?

Becoming A Teacher

Going into school as mature 40 something male and at the time I was about 19 stone and 6ft tall there is no where to hide.  What I mean by that is your minds tells you everyone is wondering who the hell you are and that you should not be there.  Well again nobody told me that it was just my severe case of imposter syndrome kicking in and wanting me to do something comfortable.

The good thing is when you go into school and for me the process was east to arrange, I got my then 14-year-old daughter, Scarlett to set it up.  Seriously when I signed on for the course and they tell you that 100 hours needs to be completed in a classroom, you think who the hell is going to give me a chance at that.

Well, it turns out Lord Lawson of Beamish in Birtley would.

Here is a top tip to anyone looking to change careers, if at all possible, blend what you did in your old career into the new one if possible.  Look at how you can weave some of what you know into some of what you want to do. 

So, for me it was easy.

As I had always worked in business, I would become a business studies teacher.  Surprisingly not a lot of teachers teach a subject they have worked in. 

Who knew!

Subject matter knowledge is always useful when you trying to get credibility with a group of teenagers.  Especially when they think “what do you know?”

Well as it happens and to my delight, I know a lot and especially having worked in sales and marketing building relationships was the base of that career.  This allowed me to build relationships with students and therefor I had their attention, trust me anyone who has a teenager will tell you it’s not easy.

So, my transferable skills came in handy, and I have to say I loved every minute I spent in school.  I struggled with the assignments as that is not my bag, but I gutted it out and got through. 

I realised a lot about myself during this process and between driving a taxi and teaching I realised my pleasure for helping others.  Sounds cliché I know but it happens to be true.

An example from experience is listening to a young boy share his thoughts on his gender transition operation, 10 minutes’ drive 20 minutes listening.  Helping elderly people into the car and putting their shopping in the boot.  Teaching a student, the meaning of a job description compared to person specification, I love it.

Digital Marketing Business

Now what I have not mentioned in this so far is that a friend of mine whom I have known for over 20 years asked me to do his online digital marketing for him.  Build a website and run his Google AdWords account.  This was part of my remit back in the day as a marketing manager for ThyssenKrupp.  I managed a budget of £12k per week on AdWords so £10.00 per day was easy enough. 

Anyway, the strategy I put in place got him more business than he could keep up with, which is good as he is a hard task master.

My reward for this was to be introduced to a friend of his who wanted the same, great I helped him too.  Then 6 months later and now into early 2021 friends of friends have come to me to help them too and in return I have the genesis of business that I enjoy and get to help people with.

But what about the teaching you might ask, or not!

Well I have done one weeks work and earnt £450.00 from it.  Which paid for just under half of my course to become a teacher.  As of writing this I have opportunities to do more teaching work but because of my digital marketing business I have had to turn them down.

I have the qualification so it is always there to fall back on but how often do you get a chance to run your own little business?

Hold Onto Your Freedom

My days are great, and I decide what I do and when.  Like when I was a self-employed taxi driver.

You see the thing is this, once you become self employed and the master of your own ship it is exceedingly difficult to give that up.  Going back to dancing to someone else’s tune and building their business up is not for me.

I have done this in the past as an employee and it burnt my soul.

Why?

Because often I was never appreciated and felt the crack of the whip while others who worked less got the praise because they were the boss ‘es pet.  Why would I want to line the pockets of some greedy individual who then flaunts their possessions, which were actually all financed, in my face.

No thank you!

I work with people who I like now, and these business owners are decent people and I get on well with hem.  I choose who I want to work with and if I don’t like you, then keep your money.

My days start when I want and that is 5.45am when I get up to walk Milo, he is our North American Mountain Cur.  In my eyes the best dog in the world.

We do a quick 3-mile spin and then its home to work.  I do this until late afternoon and then get my strength and conditioning training in before winding down and reading before bed.

My days, my time, my way, my rules!

What I would say to anyone thinking about doing something similar is to just do it.

We have struggled financially, worked to the point of exhaustion and almost falling asleep eating my evening meal after a crazy 16-hour shift.  I have missed time with my family that I can never get back, been high, been low, laughed and cried. 

Yes, I do have emotions!

But for the space I have now there is no amount of money someone could throw at me in the form of a salary that I would take.

Teaching does not pay well; I was never going to do it for the money.

I am now trying to build up my digital marketing business and this blog.

Life often whispers where it wants you to go, I really believe this.  I ignored it for so long because it changed, and I had self-doubt or because it was Tuesday.  All excuses!

Hopefully, someone might have read this to the end and have some questions which I am delighted to answer.

Thank you and good luck with all your endeavours.

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