I had spent most of my working life in sales which I can honestly say was something I did not enjoy and found very stressful. I tried a few other things such as running my own pub, retail management and even carpet fitting but somehow, when these career changes didn’t work, I found myself back in sales as that seemed to be ‘the only thing I was any good at’.
I worked for the last company as a sales rep for 15 years until the boss decided to sell up. I hated every minute under the new regime and with the breakdown of my second marriage which hadn’t even lasted a year I became quite ill with shingles (probably caused by stress) and had 2 weeks off work sick. (I’d had less than 2 weeks off sick in the previous 15 years all together).
Around this time I had met someone new (now my 3rd wife and yes I know what you are thinking and I don’t even like wedding cake!) and it was through her I decided to make some serious changes to my life as she pointed out that if I carried on doing what I was doing it would probably kill me.
On return from a holiday in Zante to celebrate my 50th birthday I gave my notice in and had 3 months off just to see what it would have been like to retire at 50 as I was promised I would be able to do when I started paying in to my pension in my early twenties. (Yeah right! funny how that £1 million pound pension pot never materialised!).
It was at this point that I started to work in care as I decided that I’d had enough of making rich people richer with no thanks whatsoever and it was about time I started doing something worthwhile and started working in care services.
I always had a dream to live by the sea and in 2013 my wife and I decided to sell up and move to Skegness, which enabled me to pay off my mortgage and buy a nice 3 bed detached bungalow for cash and still have a bit left over for improvements etc.
I now work for a charity looking after adults with learning difficulties and although I do work quite long shifts, I only do 6 of these a fortnight which means I get 8 days a fortnight off to do what I want as well as 8 weeks paid holiday a year. Yes, the pay is low but living where I do I earn more than enough to pay my bills, run my car and have 2 or 3 holidays abroad each year. I no longer dread going to work and if they ring me to do extra I just say ‘no thanks, I’m busy.’
Since working in care I have been ice skating for the first time, have swam with sharks and rays in the local aquarium and regularly go bowling, to the gym, swimming, to the cinema (I have seen the last 2 Star Wars films) and various trips out all whilst supporting clients and being paid to do it.
Over the last few years I have lost just over 2 stone in weight and through going to the gym and regular walks along the seafront as I approach my 59th birthday I am probably fitter now than I have ever been in my life. I was never able or interested in running but now have done several 5k runs and I regularly swim 64 lengths (equivalent to a mile) at the local pool and have a few times carried on to do 100 lengths just to prove to myself that I can.
By following my dream I have carved out a much happier, stress free life for myself and if ever I do start to feel a bit of pressure then I just simply go for a walk and sit on a bench on the seafront as I find the sea very calming. There is nothing better than this on a cold sunny winter day.
I urge any of you who live stressful demanding lives to just step back and take stock and do something about it as I did before it is too late.