A niggle that there was more to life than the rat race they were in led these women to shake things up. They tell their stories to JESSICA RULE. 


Aimee Jones, photographer

Ms Jones swapped her role as a corporate lawyer for life behind the lens.


“There were workdays where I would go home for an hour’s sleep and then be back at the office, ” Ms Jones says. “My phone would always be on the dining table in case something ‘urgent’ came up and I would wake up in the middle of the night to check my emails — this wasn’t a life I wanted to lead.”


So she began leaving work on time and filling her life with things she loved, one of which was photography.


“It didn’t take long for me to realise that I wanted to be a photographer and leave law altogether, ” Ms Jones says. “I now work for myself and shoot a variety of work from weddings through to portrait and editorial work.”


While she is working harder than ever before, she says taking the leap has led to something incredible. “The work is on my terms and, as cliched as it is, when you’re doing something you love it truly doesn’t feel like work, ” she says.


Ms Jones says her biggest hurdle was backing herself when there were a few people who weren’t overly supportive. “When you decide to go against the norm it can ruffle some feathers, ” she says. “You have to surround yourself with positive and like-minded people.”


Above all else, she is now happy. “While my work used to drain me, it now invigorates me, ” she says. “As silly as it sounds, I hadn’t realised you were meant to wake up and enjoy each day — you shouldn’t get Mondayitis — life is short.”


Ms Jones advises others at a crossroad to get professional advice and write a solid business plan to set you up from day one. She recommends surrounding yourself with knowledgeable and supportive people and being patient while your new venture takes flight.


“They say it takes five years to establish a successful small business, so as long as you’re ahead of where you were yesterday, you’re doing well, ” she says. “Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t try and copy the person next to you — create your own voice, dream and vision.”


Kelley Sloan, owner of One Wellness

With a background in psychology, Ms Sloan started work as a behaviour therapist for children with special needs. While the work was rewarding, the emotional challenges eventually took their toll.


“I was starting to feel the effects of burning out, ” she says.


Ms Sloan was going to Pilates morning and night to relieve stress and one of her instructors suggested she look into instructor training. She is now a qualified Pilates instructor and nutritional counsellor.


While it was a challenge to juggle the commitments of full-time work and intense outside study, she says it was about balance.


“It was a case of priorities and sacrificing some socialising on weeknights and weekends, ” she says. “It also helps to be really organised, so I had an achievable weekly plan with a realistic time line that it was possible to stick with.”


For other women looking to have a career sea change, Ms Sloan suggests seeking out a mentor to offer guidance as she did with Pilates and yoga instructor Renee Hamersley.


“I was really privileged to have an amazing mentor who believed in me, guided me, provided feedback that only made me better as well as wonderful opportunities to show people what I had to offer, ” she says.


While Ms Sloan acknowledges the risk involved in switching careers, she says it was a leap which paid off.


“My days are stress-free and I have had the freedom to pursue so many other interests and goals, ” she says. “I have a flexible work schedule that keeps me active and I love helping people to become stronger, healthier and happier — every day is rewarding for me!”

Athanae Lucev, owner of Green Smoothie Co.


Ms Lucev is all for bravery in career choices, having been a journalist, then into politics before finding her niche in health and wellness. She now owns health-food business Green Smoothie Co. and is a qualified Xtend Barre instructor.


While the corporate world had its perks, Ms Lucev says she sought to regain charge of her life. “Even if it meant that the road would be complicated and tougher (as well as riskier!) it was something I felt was important, ” she says.


Ms Lucev had to plan meticulously and slowly scale back nine-to-five work while building the business on the side. She says the biggest challenge was overcoming self-doubt. “As Eleanor Roosevelt said, ‘You must do the thing you think you cannot do’, ” Ms Lucev says. “Learning to ask for help is really important too, there are so many generous people who are willing to share their lessons or lend a hand.”


Her advice for women seeking to change career is to do your homework and forgive your mistakes. “Research the industry that you are looking at going into and remember things move fast, ” she says. “Seek help and advice and don’t be afraid to make mistakes — just move on quickly if you make them.”

© The West Australian

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