In more than one occasions I have rather convinced myself to believe that I am passionate about something that I “should be”, a field that I have formally studied for example. I think it is easier to tell yourself that what you have studied is what you must choose to have a career with and once you start working, experience adds up year after year and as time goes on it becomes too valuable an asset to be moving away from.
But is it? Should we always carry on in the easy path and ask no questions? Because moving away from one field to another is challenging. Giving in to your passion rather than carrying on with the logical choice of stability is a bold action. It will make you think that all the education you have worked so hard for is no longer will be useful or all the hard work you put in to your career over the years will no longer get counted as experience. At least this is how I used to think a few years ago when working as a Project Manager for the Financial Industry. By then IT , Project Management and Finance was all I had studied and hence worked for all my life. As much as I enjoyed the buzz and rush of the world of Finance, I always knew there is something I want more than completing a seven figure project on time.
Since I could remember, I was fascinated by clothes. Growing up, my Mother used to make dresses for me as a hobby and I enjoyed wearing something unique and custom-made for me. Then as an adult, I would make some pieces during the summer holidays or during the weekends as a hobby. I found the experience of designing a piece from scratch not only entertaining, but also very relaxing. The sheer joy of imagining various different designs and patterns mixed in together with dazzling combination of colours could keep me up at nights.
So one day, with a lot of encouragement from my family, I sent a couple of designs I have drawn for a design house and that is when I realised, this might actually be a good idea and I am glad to say it was one of the best ideas!
The lesson I learnt is to face the fears and do it any way!
I do not mean an overnight re-wamp of your life. From the point I realised designing clothes is what fulfils me, I made a decision to make it become a reality. But I also knew the change had to be done with care. I started to dedicate my evenings and weekends to design a few pieces for my first collection. I knew it would take me a long time given I was working full time as a Project Manager at that point so I started so early. Then by the time my first collection was out and the sales started to happen, I decided to dedicate more of my time and energy in to my clothing line and worked only 3-4 days for my IT job. Now I have come to a point it is 50-50. I work half the time for my office job and half the time is dedicated in to my clothing line, Sachini. In future I will look in to this balance again and do as it suits me. So the change is gradual and incremental.
In doing so, I have also learnt that some of the theories about career I used to believe are no longer true. I had realised that no matter what subject you study at the university, the education itself is the best lesson you learn. It teaches you to hold on to a long term commitment, to stay calm in stressful situations and to work hard towards the best of the results. So, looking back, I think the years spent in learning Finance and IT has paid off quite well.
As for years of work experience in a completely different sector has taught me to be disciplined and organised. Being a Project Manager has taught me one of the most important business lessons : to be on top of the numbers and to be in control of your financial management. It has taught me how serious a deadline is and how every single second counts towards it.
I believe very much that we can do more than one job. We can be very good at very two different jobs yet can enjoy the variety that life has to offer. It only takes a little imagination and hard work to embrace your passion !