A few years ago I reached life’s crossroads, also known as the ‘midlife crisis’ (and not the red sports car kind!). Not knowing the answer to, ‘what am I going to do’, and the general impact of Covid led me to have a complete loss in direction, and I found my confidence slowly depleting anyway.

It affected me both mentally and physically. I had a constant pounding headache, with stress building up, anxiety about finding work, and having to put myself out there filling me with dread. Like many others, my throat felt tight when completing interviews, made worse by navigating the new world of Zoom calls. My stomach was in knots and nerves took over. I was STUCK and I knew it, but I couldn’t see how to get out of it.

Understanding the Change Curve Journey

Knowing about the Kubler Ross Change Curve helped me understand the journey ahead and accept that stages 1 and 2 were going to be difficult to get through and I felt it, massively.

The Change Curve

I knew I wanted to get out of that feeling and get on the upside but I didn’t know how to. The curve demonstrates how over time things change as a result of a trigger event, then level out and then rise up out of it. Variances of the curve and speed will depend on the situation, but I had been in downfall for too long!

Finding Techpixies

I came across an ad for Techpixies, a company on a mission to get women back to the workforce by upskilling them with digital skills. At TechPixies, they recognise that women require confidence in order to go back to work in fulfilling, stimulating careers, to upskill or to start a business. They believe one of the best ways to gain confidence, and therefore choice over your future, is through education.

Founder, Joy Foster and her team have helped hundreds of women upskill and gain confidence. She has built an incredible community of women who are on this journey and she’s with us every step of the way, building our confidence and creating a space for people to share their stories. Knowing that you have an army of women supporting you drove me forward and I got my spark back.

TechPixies Report

It was on this life changing journey that I came face to face with my ANT’s (Automatic Negative Thoughts). After all these years I was now able to put a name to the things I had in my head and speak about it to other people who got it.

ANTs was a term coined by Dr Amen. He suggests that whenever you feel sad, mad, nervous, or out of control, you should write down your Automatic Negative Thoughts to get them out of your head. There are a number of ‘ANT species’, from ‘all-or-Nothing ANTs’, which is thinking that things are either all good or all bad, to ‘less-than ANTs’ where you think of yourself as less than others.

Whatever your thoughts, the key to change is making ‘ant killing’ a daily habit. Ask yourself if these thoughts are true and how they make you feel, and would you feel better if you didn’t think this way? Looking at things from this brighter perspective can help you take the first step on your new journey.

The type of ANT’s I had whilst being at those crossroads included:

  • ‘I’ll never work in an agency again’
  • ‘I don’t have the right skills’
  • ‘I’m too old to start again’

The Career Restart

Stages 1 and 2 of the Kubler Ross curve are the hardest, but stage 3 is where things get better. With my new found confidence and support, I applied for a job where I couldn’t do any of the skills required, but knew this was what I wanted to do. I applied and said that this job sounds amazing and I’m on a course now learning these skills. Do you know what…I got the gig! I had my first break and did some freelancing work for a small business owner where I learned a lot! Updating websites, managing system integrations with payment systems, CRM mailing systems, designing social media posts, scheduling, project management tools. For me, being able to get stuck in was the best way to learn.

Following this, my previous Manchester colleagues knew about an agency role in their London office. John Marshall and Colin Reynolds regularly contacted me for a catch up and discussion about potential jobs they knew about (what good mates I have!). I had an interview with the London team and got a role as Business Director in Client Services. I enjoyed being a part of a team and found everyone in the agency to be welcoming. However, after 6 months I had a feeling that I wanted to take a different direction. I wanted to get back to learning and continue to digitally upskill.

I decided to talk to those ANT’s telling me I’m ‘too old to start again’ and I went through the q’s and techniques that I’d learnt from Techpixies. I had a conversation with people internally to say that I wanted to learn and actually do digital. I became a Biddable Account Executive and haven’t looked back! A few people in the office came over to me when they found out what I was doing and said that they thought it was great and wished they’d done it, and to just ask if I ever needed their support.

Needless to say, I’ve learnt more in the last 18 months than the last ten years! I had a brilliant line manager in Sam Benzie. Every Monday we check in and he will ask how the previous week went and if I need any support for the upcoming week. Any questions, or anything I need to talk about, he will make sure to get back to me as soon as he can. He’s been one of the best line managers I’ve had over the decades! Any line managers out there take stock as this regular weekly catch up should be the norm in any business!

A recent merger in the digital department required everyone to be upskilled and work across all 3 disciplines: social, search and programmatic display. Typically, digital teams are siloed and I saw Total Media’s digital vision as a fantastic growth opportunity. Thanks to my new role, I can now set up campaigns on all social platforms, set up search campaigns, run reports, optimise, analyse, and now I’m moving into programmatic. I’m thoroughly enjoying learning and meeting people. I’ve been promoted twice and I am now Digital Account Manager, not bad for an advertisingosaurus! I’m excited about the next learning phase and what working across different teams has to offer.

The Lesson

If I’d have listened to those ANT’s nothing would have changed. I’d have that feeling in my stomach that something was not right. If you feel the same my advice would be to not ignore it or nothing will change. Instead, do something about it! You have to work at it and climb that Kubler Ross curve. Find your people for the right support. For me that was Techpixies, Total Media, my line manager Sam, family and friends.

To see how you can begin your career at Total Media, see our vacancies here.

Sarah Glassey - Digital Account Manager

Author: Sarah Glassey - Digital Account Manager

Outside of work, I love to spend time with family and friends especially in restaurants and going for walks.