Are you wishing you could make the leap from your current job, but can’t quite summon up the courage? Perhaps Jackie’s story will give you some inspiration…

When I first started my career 30 years ago, I was an aerobics instructor and then I travelled all over Europe for Reebok teaching people how to use their products. I did a lot of aerobics in my younger years, but then my body started to suffer.

I got into law when I was close to 30, because I started working for my lawyer boyfriend. I didn’t love the law, but it paid well. So I spent 15 to 20 years working as either a legal secretary or a paralegal and always teaching yoga on the side, but I could never really make a living doing what I loved to do.

I was always apprehensive about making a switch, because I was scared of not being able to pay the bills. I was so afraid of failing. But I just hit the wall when I was 51, having a miserable existence, not wanting to get out of bed in the morning, and I decided that life is too short to be doing a job that eats your entire soul and all your energy. I realised that I’d rather just try to figure out the finance side than have a job that pays well but is making me emotionally and physically sick.

On a particularly bad day at the office, I knew that this was it. I knew that I had to make a change. I jumped off the cliff and now, a year later, I’ve opened up a yoga studio. I’m on the right road now and I feel like I’ve made a big change in my life, teaching yoga to the public and to other teachers. I just wish I’d done it sooner.

When I made the change I had to sell a lot of my furniture and move into a small single apartment. So I had to switch around everything in my life so that I could be survive financially, as I didn’t have much money coming in.

I went to classes on learning how to write a business plan, and how to operate a business, how to build a website. I went to all these seminars and learned how to become a businesswoman. And it helped a lot. My legal background has also helped me, because a lot of yoga teachers don’t really have much business sense, and I can think through things as well and organise myself more effectively.

I wake up every day and I’m excited, but I still have a feeling in my stomach that it’s scary. I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that. I’ll know I’m successful when I can pay my bills and feel comfortable and have a bit extra to just do whatever I wanted to and not worry. I don’t have to be rich. For me, success means waking up every day and knowing that everything is on the right track, I have enough money and my business is solid.

I’m focusing so much on making this business work that I just don’t think as much about my personal life. And so that’s suffering. I’m single and I want to meet somebody but I just don’t have enough hours in the day for dating.

I often say to other people my age, ‘What’s your passion, what would make you happy in your life? Is it what you’re doing right now?’ And if they say ‘No’, I’ll say they should just go for it, figure out a way that it can happen. But it’s important to strategise, don’t just jump in. I strategised for a good year before I actually made the leap and left my job. I figured out how to get most of my bills paid off, and find a way to live on a really small amount of money.

Every day now I feel like it’s a brand new day and it’s not the same old stock sad feeling anymore. I don’t know what the day will bring, and it’s a great feeling that something wonderful could happen.

Joanna Maxwell


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