From the Corporate Grind to Free Spirit

Courtesy of Martin Edwards
Courtesy of Martin Edwards

For the past ten years, I’ve been a serious nag. Yes, I can admit it. My poor husband never heard the end of my pleas for us to leave the UK for sunnier pastures. I never really had a concrete idea of what we would do or where we would go – I just knew that I didn’t want to be trapped on the corporate ladder for the rest of my life. My spare time was literally taken up searching for our escape in the form of the next perfect holiday. Seventeen years at the same company was beginning to take its toll and, as I started to creep towards 40, the realisation hit me that it was now or never.  There just had to be more to life …

When my husband and I went on holiday to Thailand in April 2013, freshly qualified in scuba diving and eager to put our new skills into practice, little did we know it would be a major turning point in our lives. Within seven months, my husband, Jon, had qualified to become a scuba dive instructor and I had handed in my notice to Vodafone, the UK telecom giant. Our house was sold … wow … that was pretty scary, but we wouldn’t have had it any other way. Life begins at 39, right?

On our return from that fateful holiday in Thailand, we began toying with the idea of leaving the UK.  We were both tired of not seeing each other due to our high-pressured jobs. We hadn’t signed up to only see each other at weekends – and that was if Jon wasn’t on call – so deciding on making the move had a really positive impact on our relationship. But this wasn’t a decision to be taken lightly. We were giving up a combined income of £150K per year, company cars and phones, a beautiful home and the majority of everything we owned to take a risk that we didn’t know would pay off.  We also had to think about our family. My parents are both coming up to 70 with my mother’s arthritis so bad now I knew she would never be able to travel the 14-hour journey to Thailand to see us. Thatwalsh3 was a bitter pill to swallow and the guilt of leaving played on my mind for months until my mother told me to go and live my life while I was still young and healthy enough to do so.  I’m the baby of five, I have three brothers and a sister … I have nephews and nieces coming out my ears who I love dearly so, while I knew I would miss them, there was also the comfort that my parents would be surrounded by family when we left. To top it off, Jon and I have supported my family financially over the years. When the recession hit, we paid off my brother’s credit card debt as he was out of work for months on end when the building industry collapse. While we could afford to do so at the time, moving away would mean we could no longer offer this support as we just wouldn’t have the spare funds available. A dive instructor’s standard daily pay is £20, so we had to save every spare penny frantically to make the move, sacrifice holidays, and became recluses for the best part of a year.

At my exercise class one dull Saturday morning, I was sharing my plans with Amanda Brown, one of the ladies there –getting very excited at the prospect of going to live in a beautiful sunny place and mapping out my future life, but doubts were still turning in my head. As it turns out, and lucky for me, Amanda is a life coach and mentor, so when I told her what my husband and I were thinking of doing, she reacted so positively and gave me the motivation to go for it by telling me to visualise what a year down the line would look like … waking up to a vision of white sands and crystal clear sea … you get the idea. By the end of the class, I was absolutely convinced we should go for it.

After that session I didn’t see Amanda for some time, quite sad really as she had inspired me to go for our dream. While we still hadn’t defined the plan, we agreed on a time to leave – September 2014 – with the goal of finalizing the destination in the coming months … Sri Lanka? Thailand? The Philippines? All were on our list of places to go.

Lisa and Amanda
Lisa and Amanda

In what seems like only yesterday, our plans started to firm up when we settled on Thailand and had researched all that was needed to immigrate. But I still had concerns when I headed off to boot camp on a typical wet and miserable UK morning. Again, serendipitously, Amanda was there. “Fabulous!” I thought, “I can tell her our news.” By then, Jon had qualified in diving, our house was sold, but I wasn’t sure what I would do. Our moving abroad was reliant on Jon been able to get work in the scuba diving industry. In places like Thailand, dive instructors are ten a penny so we were really nervous if we could make it or not. It had been playing on my mind what I could do to supplement our income. Should I teach? Set up my own online business? I was toying with the idea of managing social media for a small business and had even started online classes, but still I was apprehensive about starting a completely new career on my own!

In the midst of some planks and crunches, I explained my business idea to Amanda. When she told me she looking for someone to manage social media for a few hours a day for her new start-up business, The Leading Ladies Company, it was as if all the puzzle pieces finally fell into place.  You could have knocked me over with a feather, not from the rigorous workout but because I was so surprised and, honestly, grateful.

Jon and I are currently living in Phuket, Thailand and loving the life we made a reality.  We rent a small house in a Thai village with views of the mountains whichwalsh2 I love waking up to everyday.  When we moved in, we paid seven month’s rent up front from our savings as we knew it could be while before Jon was working and wanted the security that we at least had a roof over our heads.  We basically lived off our savings for the first three months, and each time I checked our bank account my heart sank as I thought we would be back home within a year if we carried on like we were.  All that hard work has paid off though, and Jon is working 4-5 days a week, which is exactly how we wanted it to be.  We have ‘holiday’ days on his days off which mainly consists of getting a long-tail boat out to one of the beautiful islands on our doorstep and appreciating everything we have.

I’ve been working with The Leading Ladies Company, which launched in November 2014, inspiring and encouraging women to make life happen.  Every day I learn more about social media; I am by no means an expert but I feel blessed that I was given a chance and opportunity to work with such a wonderful company.  My role is adapting each day, each week, as the business grows.  Who knows what the future holds? What I can say is that I am not frightened to delve into the unknown and give it a go!

I’m a founding Leading Lady and have the blueprint to show that if you decide to change your career path, no matter what age you are, take the chance to follow your dream and live the life you love.

2 thoughts on “From the Corporate Grind to Free Spirit

  1. I like the part where you say, “There’s just had to be more to life?”
    I agree completely and what you have done in such a short time, is truely amazing! I’m glad you can share your experiences because you shine hope upon all who need to believe in themselves.
    Big dreams really do come true.

  2. Reading your story was like listening to the voice inside my head. Congratulations on taking the leap and embracing whatever comes!!

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