Follow Your Passion

 If you’ve ever thought of escaping from a job that is tying you down to working for yourself and enjoying the flexibility, then Julie’s experience may just be the inspiration you need!

I have been in full-time employment most of my working life. I have always tended to be quite a cautious person and never dreamed that I would end up working for myself.  This is how it happened:

I had worked in various departments within the Civil Service for about 20 years.  I began, quite by accident, working within HR and found that I really enjoyed working in this area.  I liked the people-centred aspect and I felt that I was able to really help   people and I felt that I had found my niche.


I studied for the Graduate Diploma in Personnel and Development (CIPD).  It was then that I learnt the art of good organisation and prioritisation… and not leaving everything until the last minute.

Despite gaining my CIPD qualification, I was still not very confident in my managerial abilities as I had had little practical experience.  However, when there was an Executive Officer promotion board (for first line management roles) I was encouraged by colleagues and managers to apply.  They saw potential in me that I did not see!


Surprisingly to myself (but perhaps not to others) I passed the promotion board.  I was offered a position which involved training and working as an NVQ Assessor – this sounded extremely interesting and I was very excited about it.  On taking up the role before too long, I also qualified as an Internal Verifier as well as an Assessor.

I also took over the daily running of the team and managed the two admin staff.  We became extremely successful but a decision was made to outsource due to the necessary cost-saving cuts enforced on the public sector.


My recent successes within Learning and Development inspired me to stay within this area.  In my case, this meant accepting a position within a new Agency and starting work in Chorley, not too far from my home town of Preston.  However, after a few years my office moved from Chorley to Warrington so my daily commute increased in length / duration considerably (as those of you who are familiar with the M6 will appreciate).

I started to consider what my options were.  Around this time a voluntary redundancy programme was announced throughout the Agency and some of my colleagues were talking about applying for it – in fact, I was surprised just how many.  I suppose it was the fact that it was being considered by many of my peers that made me take notice and reflect on whether I should apply myself!

Adapting To Change

Throughout my working life I had found myself having change thrust upon me and I had responded to this change.  I began to wonder whether voluntary redundancy may be a viable option for me – this made me feel excited but scared at the same time!

I would be making a decision to take control of my destiny and it seemed like quite a responsible decision to have to make as I had a well-paid job and I got on well with my work-colleagues; I had recently qualified as a trainer due to the support of my colleagues who had seen the potential in me even when I had not seen it myself in.  And of course, I also had my partner to think about – was it fair on him to just leave my job – possibly without another one to go to?

After considering this for quite some time and having several conversations with my partner I decided that I would apply for the redundancy.  When I was told that it had been accepted, I felt happy and a little sad at the same time!  What was I letting myself in for?

 A New Beginning

Following my redundancy, whilst looking for employment, I heard about a coaching opportunity.  However, on closer inspection, it turned out to be a self-employed opportunity rather than a job opportunity and I couldn’t possibly go for that…or could I?

Reading further on, it did quite appeal to me!  Perhaps this was the right time to start “thinking outside the box”, and to start looking for a different kind of opportunity?  I decided that there was nothing to lose by applying for further details.

In response to my expression of interest I got an e-mail followed by a phone call from a very nice-sounding lady, Sarah, who was a master coach.  I found Sarah to be very motivational as she encouraged me to join her team.  However, not being one to make decisions lightly I asked to consider it over the weekend.

I mentioned it to a few close family members and friends.  Most advised me to be careful about signing up for something if it involved investing money (which it did, but not a huge amount… and I had recently received a generous voluntary redundancy payment).  The more people told me to be careful the more I knew I wanted to do this (perhaps I had a rebel streak, in me!)

Scared Yet Excited At The Same Time

I was both excited but a bit scared about saying yes to the opportunity but something about it attracted me.  However, due to my natural tendency to be cautious I had two more long conversations with Sarah before I agreed to sign-up as a YB12 coach.  Once I joined I was soon invited to a meeting of mainly North-West based coaches which was held – guess where?  Warrington (my previous work location!)

On attending the meeting (which I was quite nervous about) I soon realised that I had done the right thing and I felt really excited and inspired.  The other coaches made me feel very welcome as did Sarah, whose team I am on.  There was lots of support available, as promised, and the coaching/training material that I received, was, in my view, excellent.

I was really glad that I had followed my heart in this case, as my natural tendency is to make decisions with my head, having a natural tendency towards being a reflector.  I felt that the supportive nature of the wider organisation (YB12) but the fact that everyone runs their own business and works for themselves helped me to take this massive leap to self-employment.

 How Not To Jeopardise Your Own Success

Often when we start making progress with something new we can do things to jeopardise our own success.  I started to panic about the fact that I was now self-employed as for years I had had (relatively) secure public service employment.

Around the same time that I signed up as a coach I was also offered a temporary full-time job within (guess what) the Civil Service!  Due to my cautious nature, I took it so that I had some regular money coming in.  I tried to combine this with launching my coaching business – I soon realised that this was a mistake.

I was putting obstacles in my own way and jeopardising my chance of making a success of my coaching.  When my temporary employment ended, I decided to take on only part-time positions in the future so that I would have more time for marketing and launching my coaching business.  This meant that I could also attend more networking meetings to make contacts.

 Getting ‘Out There’

Something that I had not appreciated at the start of my journey into self-employment was that the hardest thing in becoming self-employed is getting yourself known in your field.  I have never had the tendency to ‘sell myself’ well and always under-estimated my skills.

Starting to market myself was something very new to me and I started to set up social media profiles – something that was unknown territory to me (other than ‘LinkedIn’ which I had been a member of for a while).  Twitter and Facebook had seemed quite scary and I had steered away from in the past, being a private person by nature, so this was all a learning process for me!

It is only in the recent few months that I feel that I am finally making progress in getting myself known within my local business community.  I am making a lot of contacts and now have my own web-site.  That said, due to serious family illness within the last few months and a recent bereavement I have had to step back from marketing and working within my coaching business as much as I would have liked, choosing to prioritise my family commitments.

Being self-employed meant that I could be flexible and work the hours to suit me.  Although I was looking to recruit more coaching clients I felt that I needed to step back a little from this over the last few months due to my caring responsibilities.  I continued to coach existing clients, and in addition to this, I had recently replaced a part-time job with another self-employed role which gave me more flexibility.

Now that my caring responsibilities have lessened I can now look at taking on new distributors and build up my own team.  This will be in addition to expanding my coaching business which is my true passion.  In fact, I have recently upgraded my YB12 authorisation so that I am now able to coach corporate clients as well as others.

So what has all this taught me that I can pass on to you?  I would say:

  • Don’t be frightened of trying out new things; you may find out that you really enjoy them (and that you are good at them!)
  • It is never too late to learn so please do not think that you are too old to try something new;
  • It is sometimes necessary for you need to step outside your comfort zone in order to grow and develop yourself and to enable you to move into a better future.
  • Remember that the thing that is holding you back is often you!
  • Try taking things slowly at first; succeeding at the smaller things will empower you to try out bigger and better things.  (By breaking your goals down into manageable chunks it helps them to be achievable and not over-facing.)


In summary I would say that life is short

We often stand in our own way of moving on in life due to fear and doubt which causes us to have a resistance to change.  It is only by ‘testing the water’ that we may find it is quite pleasant after all!


Just take a small step at a time, try to help others along the way as this will also inspire and motivate you to succeed, and always try to be as positive as you can, whatever life brings you.


Although things will not always go your way all the time treat every experience you have as a learning experience.


Keeping on track and persevering will assist you in achieving your goals – however, make sure that you choose ones that you are truly passionate about.


Finally, it is useful to remember that people who are considered to be very successful have often experienced failure before they gained success.

Just follow your passion, remain hard-working and committed and you will move forward towards a better future.

Contact us if you have an experience you want to share and we will blog it!

This post relates the experiences of an individual and does not constitute professional advice. It is intended to inspire and share some of the positive things that can happen when you do things or think about things differently  xx

For more about becoming self employed see:

Setting up a New Business

Need Inspiration to Set up your own Business?


Julie Lightfoot

Julie Lightfoot

JL Consultancy – Coaching & Training Services



Tel: 07804 531403

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