When I was 14 years old, my Dad asked me what I wanted to do after I finished school. I shrugged. He said, “In that case, you will become a trilingual secretary because you’re good at languages.” I replied, “OK, can I go out and play now?”
And that’s how I became a secretary. I carried on as a secretary for the next 18 years.
I had many jobs along the way. Most were OK. What I liked best about them was the friends I made.
Fast forward 18 years and things were changing. Not only were there social changes as well as changes in women’s expectations; there were also changes in my personal life.
My then husband, Jim, had been very unhappy in his job in Rank Xerox in Welwyn Garden City, and had applied for a very different position in their Gloucester site.
He never gave me a thought.
We moved and, since I couldn’t find a secretarial job, I was left to my own devices. When I complained, he said, “You’re on your own. I’ve got enough on my plate.”
So I signed up at the Jobcentre and, one day, a leaflet found its way through my letterbox. It suggested retraining.
Around that time I experienced a series of severe challenges.
My parents were bitterly opposed to my leaving secretarial work because of my long experience. I would be a beginner, they argued. It would be pure madness.
They even went to Jim behind my back and urged him to bring me back to my senses. To his credit, he refused. I stubbornly remained unwilling to back down. This caused a bitter conflict of wills which took years to heal.
My parents couldn’t comprehend that I would willingly leave the security of a job in the pursuit of a dream at the age of 36 and fought me tooth and nail.
In addition, my application, which would have provided me with free retraining, got lost.
That meant that I would have to carry the full cost which I was only able to do because Jim agreed to support me or, more accurately, he agreed not to stand in my way.
This meant that, for the duration of my studies, we would no longer be a two-income couple.
And, if all this weren’t enough, having sold our house in Welwyn Garden City to move to Gloucester for Jim’s new post, Rank Xerox decided to transfer him back to Welwyn Garden City just at the time when my Dad was diagnosed with lymphoma.
Nevertheless, despite all these obstacles, I became professionally qualified as a Member of the Institute of Personnel Management, the precursor of the Chartered Institute of Training and Development.
As I changed over the years, so did my dreams.
Some of these dreams I was never able to achieve no matter how hard I tried but new ones keep springing up. A conversation, a book, a talk, an article, and some spark turns up in my brain and I have a new purpose or I notice a new opportunity.
I’m now 73 and three quarters (mustn’t forget the three quarters!) and my North Star still beckons – and I still follow – except that I’m no longer alone. Paul, my soulmate, lover, friend and partner is now by my side which is absolutely amazing.
I also want to add that I have never felt better, more alive.
When I think of so many people trying to figure out how to stay younger longer thinking that the answer is a healthy lifestyle (which helps enormously) or some expensive beauty potion (which can’t do any harm) I firmly believe that the answer is this.
Figure out what makes your heart sing.
Now go for it, no matter what.
With love and gratitude,
P.S. If you believe I can support you, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or text me on my mobile – 07903 795027 for a free, no obligation Obstacle Smashing Exploratory Session.
You will walk away with at least 3 options to get you started on a happier path – whether or not you choose to work with me.