High kites that came back to earth

Not everyone needs to be ambitious, & my boss said. & # 39; It's great if career success and money don't motivate you. & # 39;

We were in an overcrowded coffee shop in the City of London and I had just submitted my cancellation for my stable job as a management consultant.

I had explained that I no longer wanted a business career and had decided to write a novel and start a ceramics business.

& # 39; Not everyone can handle the pace of the treadmill, & # 39; she added.

Elizabeth Macneal (photo) quit her consultant job in London for a more creative career

Elizabeth Macneal (photo) quit her consultant job in London for a more creative career

I stared at her but said nothing. I was surprised that setting up a business and writing a novel were goals that were seen as a lack of ambition – and that the & # 39; treadmill & # 39; was indeed considered ambitious.

When I told my colleagues, many were excited for me. But just as many people agreed with my boss.

Stopping the city at 27 to pursue a creative career was conceived as giving up and jokingly referred to as my & # 39; retirement & # 39 ;. The truth is that I am very ambitious. It's just that my ambitions are not for boardroom domination.

Business success was all I thought – and was told – I wanted, but frankly, I wanted a career that I found more interesting.

During the six years that I worked in the city, I woke up every day at 5 o'clock in the morning to write. I sat in a dingy cafe with my laptop and typed furiously. I loved those cold, dark mornings. I longed to escape the job I had worked so hard for.

At 8 o'clock I walked to the office and stared at a PowerPoint presentation that wanted to leave every hour.

& # 39; In the evening, when it wasn't too late and I wasn't working at home, I sat in my shed and made pots and felt relaxed for the first time since the morning.

Last week her debut novel reached number one in the The Times bestseller list

Last week her debut novel reached number one in the The Times bestseller list

Last week her debut novel reached number one in the The Times bestseller list

Last week her debut novel reached number one in the The Times bestseller list

Last week her debut novel reached number one in the The Times bestseller list

But I said to myself: I have been incredibly lucky with the career I have made. What's more, the industry was dominated by men.

Female directors made up 9 percent of my company and I felt that I had a duty to be part of the change. I read Lean In, the Facebook Motivation Bible from Facebook boss Sheryl Sandberg, and rejected my accident.

In the meantime, I was promoted quickly. I convinced myself that my desire to leave was indecent, that I would be happy to be away from home five nights a week and spend twelve hours at the office.

Then I drank something with a friend. & # 39; Everyone hates their job & # 39 ;, she said to me. & # 39; Do you know someone who doesn't? It's just how things are. & # 39;

I have thought a lot about that comment in the coming days. I wondered how many others there were like me, indifferent to someone else's idea of ​​success.

I realized that my hope that I would help restore inequality in finance in the financial world was misled because I had forgotten that feminism was also about choices, and this was not the life I wanted.

I knew that if I left the city, the stress would be different – especially financially.

She said her decision to quit her job in the city had nothing to do with maternity or family restrictions

She said her decision to quit her job in the city had nothing to do with maternity or family restrictions

She said her decision to quit her job in the city had nothing to do with maternity or family restrictions

I knew that even good writers earned very little money and that I had to give up my smart dinners and regular holidays. There would be no sick leave or maternity benefit.

I knew most companies failed and books had no guarantee of success – I had written two children's novels that no publisher found. But I thought, if not now, when? It was my chance to live ambitiously.

After all, like many women in their late twenties, I had few responsibilities. I was just married but had no direct plans for children. My parents were healthy and did not need my support.

The following weekend I sat down and thought about how much I would save to work as a self-employed person for a year. I decided to apply for a master's degree in creative writing and to sell my porcelain in the right way.

If I could make a profit within three months, I wouldn't have to return to the city. The timing felt perfect; I had business experience by working hard until the mid-twenties and was part of a generation that was planning to have children later than ever.

This opened for me for years – I had a golden opportunity to pursue what really interested me.

So as soon as I had saved enough money, I gave up my notification.

To my surprise, it was mainly male colleagues who expressed their sadness in my decision.

& # 39; I feel like I'm living the life that was designed for me, that I can't do what you do & # 39 ;, someone told me.

She decided to apply for a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and started trying to sell her pottery after she stopped

She decided to apply for a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and started trying to sell her pottery after she stopped

She decided to apply for a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and started trying to sell her pottery after she stopped

He explained that he felt at home in the city, but was also connected to it; he fulfilled the traditionally male role. He had to carry a briefcase and a suit.

Although I felt some unrest, as a young woman I felt that there were few expectations of the cookie cutter.

I didn't feel saddened by the expectation that I would be a stay-at-home person, but I also didn't feel that I needed a permanent job at the office.

My decision had nothing to do with maternity or family restrictions, although I had seen several women who were about ten years before me for this reason.

In fact, it was easier, precisely because I didn't have to consider any of those things. I could work all hours and if I failed, that would only apply to me.

On my last day I finished working at midnight. The office was empty and so was the city. I walked through the wide deserted streets and I couldn't stop smiling. I felt that I had regained my life.

On my last day I finished working at midnight. The office was empty and so was the city. I walked through the wide deserted streets and I couldn't stop smiling. I felt that I had regained my life.

In the next few months I worked harder than I had ever done before. I was usually in my studio between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. My back ached with lugging clay, carrying heavy shelves of drying pots, transporting boxes to the post office to send to customers. But I was looking forward to getting out of bed every morning.

For my master I wrote short stories and for the first time I was surrounded by people who had the same dream as me. My appetite and ambition to succeed were so strong that it was almost unbearable. After two months, at a craft market in North London, my husband and I have loaded the car and I have checked my payment reader. I had made a profit.

A few months later, we tuned in to BBC 1 and saw one of my customers, a participant in a cooking program. Mary Berry ate from my plate.

The next goal was a novel.

The memory of my two failed children's books was sharp. I didn't know if I should write an adult novel; if I could write what I wanted to read.

But in the end I had an idea: a young woman's search for freedom. The completed manuscript won an international prize and last week reached number one in the Times bestseller list.

I have spent the days since walking through my house in a state of shock and total joy. This is my dream and it doesn't matter that my ambition is different from someone else's.

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal is published by Picador in hardback, £ 12.99.

CITY FAIR TURNED LETTER PAPER CREATOR

Martha Keith, 36, is married to Chris, 43, a company director, and they have a daughter, Hermione. Martha is the founder of the Martha Brook brand. She says:

As a woman, it is hard to raise your hand and say: & # 39; Business is not for me & # 39 ;, if you know that it is so difficult for women to get in. It was hard work and frightening on my own – but I don't regret it for a second.

Martha Keith, 36, is married to Chris, 43, a company director, and they have a daughter, Hermione

Martha Keith, 36, is married to Chris, 43, a company director, and they have a daughter, Hermione

Martha Keith, 36, is married to Chris, 43, a company director, and they have a daughter, Hermione

Martha Keith, 36, is married to Chris, 43, a company director, and they have a daughter, Hermione

Martha Keith (photo), 36, is married to Chris, 43, a company director, and they have a daughter, Hermione. She is the founder of the Martha Brook brand

I recently received an email from a woman whose deceased husband had given her a set of personalized Love Notes from my company. She told me that it meant so much to have them, a tangible reminder of his love. Hearing such a thing means much more than my £ 80,000 job as business director ever did.

After studying sciences at the University of Cambridge, I joined a management trainee arrangement and worked on to the level of the director. I had never questioned the career path of the company, because it was what everyone I knew did.

But the more senior I became, the more the excitement of status and salary became dull. Most of the days I was awake at dawn and on my commute I had a lot of time to think: "Is this what I want for the rest of my life?" Climbing the ladder didn't feel as good as I thought it would happen.

My light bulb moment came in August 2013.

The mother-of-one says it's hard for women to keep their hands in the air and say & # 39; business isn't for me & # 39;

The mother-of-one says it's hard for women to keep their hands in the air and say & # 39; business isn't for me & # 39;

The mother-of-one says it's hard for women to keep their hands in the air and say & # 39; business isn't for me & # 39;

For our first wedding day, I made a set of notes from Chris with ten reasons why I loved him. His joy of receiving them surprised me. I realized that I wanted a career that gave me that satisfaction.

I took a week off and made a business plan, and a month later I resigned – before losing my nerves!

I now have a small team to sell products on our website and on Not On The High Street. I pay myself a small, albeit growing, salary. Our household income has fallen – we lived on Chris' salary and my savings for a long time, but we both agree that it has been worth it.

I will support my daughter in all the career choices she makes in the future, but I hope I can tell her that joy in what you do is much more important than a big salary.

FROM FUND MANAGER TO YOGA GURU

Clare Freeman (photo), 35, teaches yoga through her company, Clare Freeman Coaching & Yoga

Clare Freeman (photo), 35, teaches yoga through her company, Clare Freeman Coaching & Yoga

Clare Freeman (photo), 35, teaches yoga through her company, Clare Freeman Coaching & Yoga

Clare Freeman, 35, teaches yoga through her company, Clare Freeman Coaching & Yoga. She lives with her husband, Fabrice, in North West London. She says:

In 2015, I took a two-month sabbatical from my job at a city pension fund – I urgently needed a break.

After studying economics and finance at the university, I followed an accountancy training before I started to focus on fund management. At first I loved the hustle and bustle of business and working on the front line of the financial crisis was fascinating.

But with my £ 100,000 salary, enormous pressure came. I was responsible for billions of pounds in corporate bonds and always bore the burden of my expectations.

She lives with her husband, Fabrice, in North West London

She lives with her husband, Fabrice, in North West London

She lives with her husband, Fabrice, in North West London

I was constantly suffering from viruses, anxiety and insomnia. Taking the time made me realize that I had to leave – although it was incredibly difficult to handle my sobering. I even searched for therapy and it took another six months before I resigned.

Leaving the office for the last time was exciting and terrifying. For seven months I traveled through Asia and trained yoga teacher in Bali before moving to Edinburgh to train as a counselor and life coach who lived on savings.

In January 2017 I returned to London after meeting my husband and I started doing yoga in companies.

In the first year I took a salary reduction of 99 percent. It was hard to miss expensive meals with friends, but all sacrifices were worth it.

When I see business customers shattered, I feel grateful that I am no longer in that world – and glad I can help them.

STRATEGY CONSULTANT FOR FASHION DESIGNER

Rosie Cook, 30, left and gave up her advice to find swimwear brand Deakin & Blue. She lives in East London with husband James, 30. She says:

Dive into my local lido on a sunny morning, my old job as a strategy consultant for a Big Four office feels a lifetime ago.

For me, success is about choosing the desired career and not being restricted to costumes and boardrooms. I loved work, but as my career progressed, I went from being a trustworthy person to permanently canceling plans with friends – and my husband – at the last minute.

Work had to come first, and over time I felt less and less able to control my life outside of it.

Rosie Cook (photo), 30 left, gave up her advice assignment for finding swimwear brand Deakin & Blue. She lives in East London with husband James, 30

Rosie Cook (photo), 30 left, gave up her advice assignment for finding swimwear brand Deakin & Blue. She lives in East London with husband James, 30

Rosie Cook (photo), 30 left, gave up her advice assignment for finding swimwear brand Deakin & Blue. She lives in East London with husband James, 30

A love of swimming has set me free. I have always been an avid swimmer and in 2014, frustrated by the limited choice of swimwear – you could be beautiful but impractical, or athletic and not very flattering – I started sewing my own.

In 2016 I resigned from my job to start a swimwear label.

Unbelief was the most important response from colleagues. I had no fashion experience and walked away from a salary of £ 70,000 and a great pension. I knew it was a high risk, but I could not continue as I was.

Three years later I have a small team but no salary yet – reinvest in the company while James supports both of us. The flexibility that I have gained is life-changing. James and I eat together most evenings – my life no longer has to fit around work.

Case studies by eimear o & # 39; hagan

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