Lucy Lucas

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Yoga & Mind Blog by Lucy Lucas

From Canary Wharf to San Antonio Bay: a transition tale

swimI’m in the middle of my transition — here’s what I’ve learned so farFive months ago, back in February, I was sat in one of those sky scrapers you see in Canary Wharf, dressed in a skirt and blouse, ploughing through yet another ‘update for senior management’ requested by my boss, and hoping that my finance manager could get the numbers to reconcile.Today, I’m sitting in my living room in Ibiza, wearing not a lot, and wondering if I can avoid putting on the air con (it’s so damn expensive). My office is a yoga studio, a hotel garden where I teach more yoga, my living room and the terrace at my boss’s house in the north of the island.I left my banking job in early March, so what can I tell you about the transition to a new life and a new way of working? What have I taken with me, and what did I leave behind?1. Transition begins before you leave your jobMy transition started long before I walked out of the office in Canary Wharf. From the day in July 2011 when I watched the sun set in San Antonio bay, Ibiza, it took me four years to leave the corporate world. In those four years, I have been preparing for my new life. This has included everything from developing new skills, such as coaching and counselling, yoga teaching, which I wanted to use in the new world. It has also included networking and building a tribe of people also on a similar path both in Ibiza, my destination, and London. It was about where I was directing my energies, away from the office and towards new things which excited me. It was also about investigating who I was and wanted to be, where I wanted to go, and what I wanted to do — and understanding that I might not have all the answers right now. That there comes a point where the planning ends and you have to make a step into the unknown. I also used this preparation time to save a lot of money to help me in my new life. Most importantly, I used this time to make sure I actually really wanted to leave, and wasn’t just running away. And yes, it took four years to actually answer that particular question.2. ….and continues long afterOne thing I didn’t appreciate was that it wouldn’t be perfect straight away. I have come to expect that I will be great at everything, and that everything will work brilliantly right from the start. What I know now, is that from the moment you take that step into the new world, you are still in a state of transition. You are learning, growing, being an apprentice to the new skills or business you want to develop. When things aren’t going as well as I would like, I always say ‘it’s a start Lucy’ because whatever you do, you have to start somewhere. Even if nothing comes from it, you will have learned something along the way. Do we ever stop transitioning? I’m not sure we do — but one thing is for certain: it won’t all be the way you want it right from the beginning. Start somewhere. Start something. Learn.3. Take what is helpful from your corporate job….I like to joke that my last year at one of the world’s largest financial services companies taught me a lot about coping with life in Ibiza: the endless admin, the people in charge who change their minds on a whim, how it takes ages for anything to happen. As well as new found patience, I also discovered that many of my skills from the corporate world are useful in my new life too: financial management, for both my finances and those of the small company I work for; organisation and administration; getting ideas together and making them happen. These things may seem boring or generic, but you would be surprised how useful they are, and how few people can do them well. These skills are also useful to help you run your own business or projects, as well as being a service you can offer to others. Don’t underestimate the value of the skills you learned in the old world.4. ….and leave the rest behindI used to dream about having a portfolio lifestyle and being my own boss. What I didn’t realise what how rudderless I would find this life. No one to set deadlines, or hold me accountable for my work. No set schedule most of the time — and in Ibiza a schedule that changes hour by hour is also the norm! The weird realisation that you actually have more responsibility working for yourself or for a small company than you did in a large firm, where there were multiple layers between you and failure. Ultimately, what I didn’t realise was just how institutionalised I had become. Letting go of that need for a routine, or a deadline, or paycheck, or a boss — and yet still being able to get on and deliver and create things, which might lead to bigger things, with no guarantees of feedback, financial reward, or even people turning up, was a massive wake up call to how shackled I had become by the corporate world.5. Be open to possibilities…Starting a new life means being more open, more curious and more interested in what’s out there. I am always looking at new things, and having new ideas about projects or collaborations with others. I also get asked to be involved in businesses and events. I am always interested, and nearly always have a conversation if it sounds like something I do. I’ve done this all through my transition, volunteering with psychiatric patients to see if psychotherapy and counselling was a career I really wanted, and attending workshops and seminars. I got one of my current jobs by volunteering on reception at a holistic festival here in Ibiza. It turned out that the festival is organised by my now boss, and I got to meet him and others just by giving up some of my time one sunny Sunday afternoon. I remember thinking as I drove home from the festival that I had given my service to the island and its people — and that maybe the island and its people might one day find a way to serve me. And they did. Nothing happened on that day, it was only when I followed up with a thank you note that the conversation turned towards a job.6. ….but be clear about what you will or won’t doIt can be tempting when investigating opportunities and ideas to say yes to everything. And it is also true that as you’re starting out, you may not have formed too clear a picture in your head about exactly what you do and don’t do, or who you want to work with. This is all part of the transition process: starting to firm up these boundaries of what work you will do, who with, and also for how much. Understanding and communicating your worth is something I have certainly struggled with, especially being so green working for myself. However, I have definitely turned down, walked away from and challenged some projects and proposals that have come my way — because I couldn’t work with the other party as nice as they are, or the event wasn’t aligned to my values, and sometimes because I’ve just been too busy to do it justice.As I continue the process of transition, there will be more insights and light bulb moments to come. One of the biggest things I have to keep reminding myself is that I am here to enjoy the process. I did not like working for large corporations and wanted to do my own thing, and be my own boss. And now I am. So I need to learn to enjoy the good moments that come with this, and ride out and learn from the not so great points.And certainly never look back.This article first appeared in Hatch Journal by Lorna Morris