‘Second chance career’ was it worth it

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There was a time in which you came out of school and got a job for life. These days, many of us move from one place to another in the same industry, while others change careers completely. Five people who took the step and tried something new, and share their stories.”I was at a crossroads”

Graham Jepson

SJ Watson was a specialist in audiology before penning the international bestseller Before I go To Sleep, which became a Hollywood movie.

While working with children with hearing impairment in St Thomas’s Hospital in London, tried to write fiction in the evenings but as its work load increased, his time got increasingly demanding.

Things that peaked in 2008, when his department head, announced his intention to retire.

“The next logical career step for me would have been to go for his work,” said Mr Watson.

“But I remember that I felt very strongly that I do not want to do that. It would have meant the end of any writing ambitions.

“I had a clear idea of who I was at a crossroads and I remembered that when I was a child my ambition had been to have a book published, not to be the head of an NHS department.”

The wife of 46 years, left his job and managed to find a time position in a nearby hospital.

“As soon as I got that job I knew it was the right decision, as right away all my excuses for not writing disappeared.

“I treated it as two jobs, I would like to work in the NHS three days a week, and then in my novel the other four… and in the nights in my NHS days, too.”

The author thought of leaving his steady job was a big jump into the unknown, but one knew that I had to take.

“I realized that I could not live with myself if I got to the end of my life and realized that I had never really, seriously, I tried to write a book,” he said.

“I knew I would have to make sacrifices, but that seemed worth it. And as soon as I started, before the book was even finished – and much less successful – I knew that I had made the right choice, because I was doing something for me.”

From the living room to the kitchen

The location of a change

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Sarah Smith spent 10 years working in the NHS as a radiation therapist. Although she loved her job, she knew that it was time for a change and decided to train in acupuncture, at the age of 30.

“I have come to a point where I wanted new challenges,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed my work and knew that I wanted to work with the public, but I felt unsatisfied at work.

“They wanted me to stay and move up a level, [but] I knew that does not suit me. I thought, I don’t want to be doing this when I’m 60? And the answer was no.”

Ms Smith, of Ilkley in West Yorkshire, said that the seed was planted when she listened to a midwife to ask a patient if they had tried acupuncture for morning sickness.

After doing some research, he enrolled in a three-year period of training course that was developed at the end of the week. She was able to continue working for the first year before going part-time for the last two.

Now fully qualified, and with his own clinic, Ms Smith is self-employed and said that allows you to manage your child care more easily.

“I would say that acupuncture allows me to take all the best parts of my NHS work to the clinic,” he said.

“I need time with people, I am trying to help them and make them feel better. That is very rewarding, and worth the risk.”