Downton Abbey and Career Change

Warning:  If you have not seen the Season 3 finale of Downton Abbey yet, please skip the first two paragraphs (although I've not gotten too specific about the outcome).


That was quite the season finale of Downton Abbey last week, wasn't it? Another character is off the show after a tragic demise, preceded yet again by moments of joy.  It's just a television show, but I was starting to feel manipulated. How much can one family (or viewer) take?

But an article in The New York Times explained it all.  The characters were written off the show because the actors found new roles and wanted to move on.  It had all come down to a career change.  I'll admit that I felt better after reading this.


I often dream of my own career change. One that takes me out of a large corporation and into my own business--my own home store where I can buy, sell, arrange, and rearrange to my heart's content.  I'd stock the store with lavender scented candles, hand blown glass hurricane lamps, white china, flowers, natural linens, furniture and more.  The floor would be carpeted with sisal, the walls painted crisp white.  Carefully chosen antique framed prints would hang on the walls and a selection of children's hand-knit sweaters would be neatly folded on white tables. Maybe I'd include a few leather goods too.



Unfortunately, there is no budget for a store and I'm not able to leave my job anytime soon (and believe me, I am grateful to have a good job with steady income). Sometimes an online store as a side business seems like a possibility and I plan to take a class on the subject this spring.  Just for fun.


It may never happen, but it feels good to think about the possibility, to write about it, to put the idea on paper.  This is why I'm admire Ina Garten and other entrepreneurs who followed their hearts.  They were not content with the status quo, to settle for work that was not fulfilling.  They found a way to pursue their passion and be successful.  It's hard to imagine how satisfying that must be. 

Have you made a major career change?  Tossed it all to start over and do what you love? Perhaps you turned your hobby into a career or built it into a business. If so, I would appreciate reading about your experiences and your decisions in the comments section.  Thank you in advance......


25 comments:

  1. Deborah take that class and start an online business because you can do it while keeping your day job. Would you believe I used to be a commercial architect? I chucked it all to work in a museum and then to start my own business and I've never looked back. You simply have to follow your dream.

    XXX
    Debra~

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    1. I like your story, Debra. What a great start to working with antique textiles by working in a museum. Thanks for the inspiration.
      -Deborah

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  2. Hi Deborah...it's neat how I happened upon your blog through "Peeking thru the Sunflowers" today. Love this post...because I often dream of the very same thing. Wishing to own a "brick and mortar" shop and live my dream. We've been praying for God to make a way. He can for you, too. I'm pretty certain He can give us the desires of our hearts :)
    Beautiful blog by the way! I'll be visiting regularly. Have a great week!
    Becky
    Buckets of Burlap

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    1. Thanks, Becky. It's fun to dream, isn't it?

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  3. Your dream sounds like one I would enjoy. I always revel in those kinds of shops and I know I'd be good at it.
    I also felt a bit manipulated with the ending of Downtown Abbey. I don't watch soap operas for that reason and suddenly I felt like I was watching one. I heard about the career change but do they have to kill them off!! LOL... they used to put in a new person to take over the roll of someone that wanted to leave. Perhaps they felt the public wouldn't buy it!

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    1. Liz - you are right on with the comparison to a soap opera! I would always scoff at the idea of watching soaps, but there I was, glued to the TV for the DA series this year. There are worse things on TV, I suppose. If you open a store, please be sure to let me know!

      Deborah

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  4. Deborah - Gosh, wasn't that D.A. ending shocking and upsetting??

    I made a huge career change 10 years ago. Left my job as a successful accountant and started selling Swedish antiques in very traditional and colonial Washington, DC. When I first opened, I did not have any clients.....not one! Boy, that was risky (and I probably wouldn't do it in today's economy). But I've been incredibly lucky and feel very fortunate.

    My suggestion: It helps to have a second income via spouse / partner / family, etc.

    xo
    Loi

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    1. Hi Loi - Shocking and upsetting is right. Too much!

      Thanks for the practical advice! I admire what you have done with your shop and find your career change inspiring. Although I haven' been to your shop, I hope to visit one of these days.

      My day job is something I can't give up right now, so I'm hoping to try a side business. We will see, but I'm enjoying the process of thinking about it and trying to take some steps in that direction.

      Deborah

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  5. Deborah, maybe I am too cynical, but I do think career changes are not for the faint of heart. It is very helpful to have someone to "fund them" like rich husbands or rich parents. I have noticed that every designer I hear on the Skirted roundtable or look at on New York Social Diary seemed to grow up wealthy or at least upper middle class. Every designer I know here has a "developer" husband. I know there is always a place for real talent (like Lauren on Pure Style Home), but it is also helpful to be well-placed city-wise in an area you can make a go of it. I think you are in Boston, so at least that's a city where people have money to spend on decorating. I struggle with this myself as I'd like to do anything but engineering. I just can't see how to do it though. I talked to designers here who earned $10,000 their first 5 years and needed someone to fund it all.

    I know that sounds cynical and people make all sorts of dreams come true. I, too, am trying to decide between sticking with my day job and funding my decor love easily, or trying to "work in the field" of my dreams, like decorating or writing. With my severe headaches, it is hard for me to do both, or to even take up new studies and is easier to stay the course. If you are well, I think it can be done but the money issue is very real. Talent and location can help make up for it. And loads of hard work, like I am sure both of us have poured into our corporate jobs! So we can do it. It is just WHAT and HOW TO FUND it! haha.

    But people are doing all sorts of career changes and doing it slowly, starting Etsy stores and side businesses and weekend decorating companies. I did a lot of small writing jobs for a while, but it was too much with my day job and health, so how could I start my new career if I could not do both at once?! And at $45/article for writing, I was a fool to leave a 6-figure salary and a job I can do in my sleep. Ugh. What a dilemma and what torture...I feel it too.

    I am sure people will think my rich husband remark is very cynical, but sorry...it is the truth in many cases. I started with nothing and built a great career so it can be done, but I chose a more conventional path, Engineering. I am sure entrepreneurs like Ralph Lauren had nothing when he started but he also had connections and lived in NYC. Everyone has help and some people seemed groomed for success for their circumstances. As many people have probably succeeded with no help and no funding, but living like a poor student is hard when you are 45 and not as easy as when we were 25 and I was happy to have nothing.

    I think starting a side business is the trick, if you can handle two jobs at once. If I were well, I would be doing more writing, photography and decorating on the side until I figured out what I liked and wanted most. I would love to sell antiques but there is little market here and I don't know how to even learn about how to get product and all that retail stuff. I am sure there are courses to learn about small business that you could start looking into...

    Good luck and don't mind my cynicism. :)

    xo Terri

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Terri. You are right that a career change isn't for the faint of heart. There is much to consider and funding is not the least of them! It can be done though and while I don't know if it will ever be the right move for me (or even possible), I'm enjoying the process of exploring the idea and stretching myself by keeping an open mind.
      -Deborah

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  6. wow, after reading terri's comment i want to come around and say, phooey, go for it deborah!

    24 years ago i left the corporate safety net and opened a shop on a wing and a prayer, no rich husband and no connections. today i reveled in an email from a client asking if he sent a private plane would i come out of state to design his second homes garden.
    that did not come easy. it is not romantic, you work non-stop, you wring your hands with the economy. everything you buy is speculative......you have to have guts.

    that being said i believe in passions and pursuing them, you can only succeed. and you in particular deborah has exquisite taste, really really lovely. trust in yourself

    ps; i am in the midst of writing a blog post on this very topic. stop over in a few days. if you do not mind i would like to reference back to you
    fondly
    debra

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    1. Thanks for the encourgement, Debra. I know you are experienced and successful in running your own business, so appreciate the honest assessment. We'll see what happens. I'm not leaping without a net! I do not mind at all if you reference this post in your blog and appreciate it very much.

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  7. I don't know, Deborah, I'd keep the corporate job at least part time, and dabble in your on-line store for a bit. See how it goes before you give up what you now have. But then, I was a nervous wreck when my husband followed his dream. It worked for a while, but was stressful for all concerned. Working for someone else who handled the stress seemed more and more appealing.
    But, I am a worrier and sounds like you are a dreamer. Probably you should try. Or not. (Besides being a worrier and I wallow in indecision.)

    Glad to know Julian Fellowes was not just being indiscriminate in his death count.
    b

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    1. Believe me Billie, I have no intention of leaving my day job anytime soon. Part some day may be possible, but not right now. I can certainly understand how working for oneself could be more stressful than working for someone else.

      Deborah

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  8. Your idea of a store sounds right up my alley and I think it all starts with a dream. You don't as my mom always says want to be 85 and wondering "what if"...maybe start laying some of the groundwork now, looking into spaces, finding out if a store like you described has a place and a need, is there too many like it or too few? Sounds wonderful...and life is too short to have dreams that sit there but dont' become reality (that's me at least) and the older I get the more brazen I am becoming about at least trying to make things happen. Wishing you luck as you ponder this next chapter.

    On a sidenote, whose burnt orange totebag is that? I really like it! See..you already have a customer:)

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  9. At the age of 40 I left a cushy job in the U.S. Senate with the goal of being a research scientistic. To that end I went to grad school, got a PhD and a job in a good lab at the National Institutes Of Health. I wanted to be part of a major find. Along the way I had support from real estate rentals that I had invested in when I was in the Senate. My name is on the big find, a real game changer in cancer research. I am now 77 and while I'm still working it is only to help others along in their research. Age takes its toll bothe physically and mentally. I am so grateful for the breaks I got along the way and the people who helped me. What I did was not easy but no matter what I never quit. I was never beautiful, I was never the brightest in class. But I was singular in purpose. As I look back one of the biggest advantages was being single and not having the burdon of a husband to drag along.

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    1. That's not only a dream pursued, but also filled. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

      -Deborah

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  10. Deborah- you know when it's right for you. You're smart to take it slow but it sounds like you know what you need to do. I switched careers only a couple of years after college and it was the best move I ever made. Went from PR to design and it changed everything for me. I moved into my parents' basement to get started but it was worth it.
    Good luck!!
    xoxo,
    Lauren

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    2. Lauren - Thanks for taking the time to comment. I follow your blog so have followed along during your journey to success. You have certainly put so much hard work and dedication into your design business, which is inspiring--so great too that your husband has been able to join you in the business. At this point, if I tried to move in with my parents, they would probably faint! It has been a long, long time since I lived with them. I'll keep working on my ideas though and see what I can do.
      -Deborah

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  11. Hi Deborah,
    I'm in the midst of the same retail dream although leaving the job isn't an issue. I was fired for "not being in alignment" with a very crazy stress inducing boss (in a business that wasn't doing so well). It was the most wonderful day of my career. Being released from someone else's world, where my integrity and vision were not respected put me on the path to discover what really get me going. I kind of knew it all along - as we all do if we stop and listen to ourselves. A 20 year career in retail, plus 12 years in the home textile/furniture world coupled with spending every other minute of free time in pursuit of some lovely home oriented activity...duh. It's so natural that I would open a store. Hell I could inventory half a store out of my house :)

    Like you, seed money is an issue so I am starting with an online venture and seeing what develops. I also put together a business plan and found that there is money out there through the SBA but I'm not sure I want to start off with loans.

    I wish you so much luck and success on your journey, knowing what you want to do is half the battle!
    Lori

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    1. Hi Lori - Thanks for taking the time to comment. That must me a good feeling, to be released from a job that is not right for you and mmove on to new things. Your extensive retail and home furnishings experience will certainly give you a head start. All the best to you too.

      -Deborah

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  12. Wow, this post as well as well as Debra's on 5th and State, came just as I was thinking how the heck to get out of my corporate job and into the design field. Fate? Scary to think that one day I might wake up, realize I'm 75 and wishing that I had taken the chance. My job pays well and it would be difficult to convince the spouse to buy into my dream (although I certainly went back to work to support his dream!). Darn, maybe I need to get rid of the hubby! (Just jokin' honey!)
    Well, I hope you find a way to make your dream come true.

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    1. I think about the same thing--about waking up later in life and not having fulfilled my career dreams. I hope you find a way to make it work for you too.
      -Deborah

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