Hi, I’m Becky and I’ve recently started my own business called Luxe Styling.   Luxe Styling is a luxury event styling business.  Essentially, my job is to make birthdays, parties, weddings and dinner occasions look visually spectacular for high-end clients; collaborating my creativity with the client’s vision. This could be an elaborate flower display, an abundance of balloons or a sparkly glitter fest.  The aim is to create lots of Instagram-able photos to showcase to friends and family. This sounds impressive, huh? But let me be honest with you, I am only 2 weeks into my journey after quitting my stable corporate job at the end of June; and it has taken me a LONG time to get to this happy place.  My primary challenge was my mind-set, so I focused on improving this first before starting my business.   A quick introduction to my mind-set After a lot of soul-searching and personality tests during the last few years, I have a good idea of who I am… I’m an introvert; meaning I re-charge my batteries by being alone. Taking a bath, reading a book, meditating.  That doesn’t mean I’m a hermit; I have fantastic friendships and love creating new relationships, but I have to reignite my energy by being having “me time”. I’m a perfectionist; meaning I want everything to be perfect and visually appealing to an incredulously high standard.  I would like to say I’m a recovering perfectionist, but its early days.  Let’s just say I no longer throw away to-do lists if they have a mistake on it. I’m an over-analyser; meaning I am indecisive and procrastinate in doing things as I analyse (internally!) every option over and over. It’s exhausting and time consuming! Even buying a new shampoo can lead to a ridiculously long trip to Superdrug. I’m an all or nothing person; meaning that I am either 100% obsessed and all consumed with something, or couldn’t care less.  There doesn’t seem to be much in between, unless I force it. I found I was forcing it quite a lot at my corporate job. What this means in totality is that I spend a lot of time in my head, considering every option, working towards a perfect scenario that I am passionate and interested in.  In preparation for an entrepreneurial journey, I know that these are my challenges and I am excited to work on them every single day. I’m not going to (and I don’t want to) change overnight.  This is me and I’m starting to embrace it and fine-tune it…   Brief History My story starts after university, where I studied Anthropology at the University of Kent. At school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and university was pushed upon me, so I chose a subject I was interested in and convinced myself that I would develop skills and knowledge that was transferable. University was fine and then after graduation, I realised I was still lost and had no idea what my next step should be.  I ended up falling into a HR position at my local county council in Kent.   I absolutely loved my first junior position and decided that HR was the route for me. And so I worked hard and progressed through the teams over the next few years. I had found my passion! I took on more responsibility, went back to studying to grow my knowledge, and even won the CIPD Student of the Year award in 2012. Things were looking good and I felt happy.  As I constantly want to feel challenged and stretched, I decided to take a big leap to the private sector and join a business in London – super exciting and I had no fear at all! I was so pleased to be offered the only job I applied for, at a retail company I had followed and admired for many years.  It felt like everything was falling into place. The next year and a half was an eye-opener.  Although the people and the brand were amazing, our team was under-resourced and the pace of work was excruciatingly busy, and I started to feel tired, run-down and unhappy.  I was working up to 14 hour days on some occasions and had no time to consider my physical or emotional well-being; my only focus was work.  This was leading me to burnout.  Fortunately, I recognised the signs and I decided to leave and move into another company based in London.  This new role was similar, but the team was more developed and therefore there was more opportunity for a work-life balance.  I was sure that this would be the answer and my passions would return! 
Reflections at 30 Although I had the most incredible experience at this new company, my unhappiness and un-fulfilment continued.  At the same time, I was approaching my 30th birthday.  This may have been the lowest point of my life; as I started to review everything and shockingly realised the following:
  • Work life – I was not happy and not fulfilled
  • Home life – I was not happy with my home environment and disliked the thought of being home
  • Relationships – I was not happy as me and my fiancé had a nine-year long-distance relationship and I didn’t want to do that anymore
  • Money – I was not happy as I was throwing money at things to try and make me happy 
  • Me – As a whole, I was not happy as this was not where I thought I would be at 30 years old!
After realising all of the above, I knew I had to take action and figure this out! I wasn’t an unhappy person, and it shocked me to think how I had let myself get this far.     Life Counsellor I was fortunate to have access to a counsellor through work, so I arranged a session and we met the same week.  We started to explore my concerns one-by-one and she helped me realise tangible solutions for each concern.   I had decided that I wanted to tackle home life and relationships first.  Fortunately, (the world works in mysterious ways!!), my fiancé was posted to work in London later that year.  So we arranged to finally live together, in a nice home environment we would be happy to live in. Tick. Tick.  Next – money.  I vowed to be financially savvy, and for the first time in many years, I was being sensible with my spending and was saving the most money I had done in a long time. Tick. As I had always loved HR and that was (I had thought) my ultimate passion, I believed that I would now be “fixed” and I would start being happier. But I wasn’t.  If anything, I still felt the same – unhappy, unmotivated, uninspired and not like me at all. This is when I knew I had to address being unhappy at work.  Life is short and our time is precious, and I was no longer prepared to waste my days in a job I knew was not right for me.     Work Unhappiness I started to think about the job I was doing, and I realised that although I was good at what I did, I was on auto-pilot and had become complacent.  I wasn’t challenged and I wasn’t seeking challenges; so unlike me!  My next thought was to research more senior jobs and to move up the corporate ladder.  I started to look at my manager’s role and other senior roles in my HR network, and that’s when I realised I would not be happy in their roles either.  Fundamentally, I didn’t enjoy the work anymore.  This was a HUGE realisation for me.  And this is when I started to dread going into work.  I would wake up and loathe the thought of the day ahead.  I would make it through the day, and would go back through the same cycle most days.  It was my own Groundhog Day nightmare.  Upon this realisation, I was no longer on auto-pilot, as I knew that I was in the wrong job and I had to do something about it. I wanted to be one of those people that say “I love what I do, so it doesn’t feel like work”.
Stuck in a Pickle This got me in, what I like to call, a “pickle”.  I felt stuck.  I knew I had to leave, but the fear would creep in as I thought about what I would do otherwise. How would I make money? Would I make enough money? What would my friends and family think? Would I look like a failure? Would I ever be successful outside of HR? Am I ready to take such a big life-changing risk? Am I prepared to not succeed? I was at an all-time confidence low.  Fortunately, work had placed me on a coaching course and I had access to a wonderful coach.  She helped me in many ways, but the most memorable was an exercise to visualise what a good day looks like for me, and to ultimately discover where my passions lie.  This is where I acknowledged that I severely disliked routine – I hated the morning commute, I hated sitting at a desk all day, I hated not meeting new people and connections, and I hated repetition. This was a revelation! The coach encouraged me to flip my thinking from understanding what I don’t like, and focusing on what I do love and what I could see the future me doing. I had one powerful visualisation which provided an epiphany; I needed to work for myself, doing something creative. I knew that I had to follow my heart and let the passion (whatever that may be) drive me through this life-changing process. I truly believe that life is precious and we should make the most of it; and I wanted to live true to my beliefs.   Finding the Courage to follow through This gave me the courage to FINALLY hand in my resignation. And it took a lot of courage! If I’m honest… I had prepped myself to resign on the Monday and I made excuses all week, and resigned on the Friday afternoon.  The main reason for finding the courage was that I had told my coach I was going to do it, and I was seeing her again the next week, and wanted to return with good news and celebrate the first step! If I hadn’t have told people I planned to resign, I’m not sure I would have done it.  It felt that I had accountability for my words and would cause disappointment (in myself and others) for not following through! So… I would most definitely advise that if you have the fear factor like I did, but know that resigning is the right decision for you, tell someone out loud to help you follow through.  No-one wants to have the conversation, “Oh, I haven’t done it yet, I’ll do it next week” about something that is causing you such prolonged unhappiness!  Once I had resigned, I felt a weight physically lift from my shoulders.  I knew I had made the right decision and started to feel excited about the future. This is where my quest for happiness truly began.  
Finding my Passion The next step was to find out where my passions were and to bring them to the forefront of my life again!  To really thrive and add value, I have to be passionate and committed to something, and I couldn’t wait to have this feeling back.  I knew it would be something creative but I wasn’t sure what that would be yet.  I took my time to explore this organically.  For me, resigning allowed me to focus on my future.  I knew that I had a 3-month notice period to explore this, and did not put any pressure on myself to find the answers. Fortunately, I was wedding planning during this period and I realised that my passion was ignited again when I would look at styled pictures of wedding dining tables, or entrances, or flower displays.  It literally would fill my heart with joy just looking at pictures and I started to feel inspired. This is when I knew my business would be creating this for other people to enjoy. I had found my new calling! As I came to this realisation, I was nearing the end of my 3-month notice period in December 2017, and my employer asked if I would be interested to work part-time.  This was a good solution for me at the time, as it meant I would still earn money (which was needed for our wedding in June 2018) and would give me the flexibility to start business planning and also looking after myself on the days off.   Health & Well-being I started to take care of myself with exercise.  I hadn’t exercised in years. I made time for gym classes and also started to explore yoga and Pilates.  I felt the benefits from this; more energy, pride and a feeling of accomplishment from creating a positive routine. I can’t truly say I love exercising (YET), but I do love that I am exercising and trying to better my health and well-being. I will continue to try different exercises to find one that I am passionate about… there must be something!! Until then, I commit to my routine as I like the way it feels. I also started to journal. Wow. As an introvert, with thoughts CONSTANTLY running through my mind, this was my release. I didn’t put any pressure on myself to do this daily (although the perfectionist in me wanted to excel at first go), so I decided to journal when I felt overwhelmed or unmotivated.  This worked wonders for me.  As I write, I notice the negative thoughts that are in my head, and turn these to positive comments within my journal. For example, I once wrote, “I am really lazy and unmotivated today, I am never going to achieve anything like this”. As I wrote the words, I knew how I had to respond to myself, “I may feel lazy and unmotivated right now, but I have the power to change that. I am responsible for my actions and can do anything I put my mind to. I will complete one thing today I am proud of”. And I did!  It does sometimes feel like I’m a crazy lady (with cats – I have two cats!!) having conversations with myself. But WHO CARES if it works and helps me get back on track.  I now journal more frequently and have also started a gratitude diary to keep me positive and grateful, and shut down the ‘mean girl’ in my head (I recommend the book Mastering Your Mean Girl by Melissa Ambersini if you have one in your head too!). I also used this time to read self-development books.  You could say I am obsessed with self-development books.  Everything from being proactive, to being happy, to creating successful habits, to law of attraction, to business books.  These have all individually helped me adjust my mind-set to be positive, to focus on self-care, and to understand the basic principles of starting a business.   Wedding Bells I also used the part-time hours to organise our wedding.  This took place on the 1st June 2018 and it was a wonderful experience.  We held our wedding in a small lake in Northern Italy, called Lago d’Orta, and it was a perfect day.  There were hiccups throughout the day, but my newfound mindfulness meant that this perfectionist and control freak was not worried! For instance, I was 15 minutes late and I forgot to take my bouquet down the aisle.  When my bridesmaids told me, I replied “Never mind”! That would NEVER had happened a year before when I was in the depth of my unhappiness!  I came back from the wedding and mini-honeymoon (on the Amalfi Coast – swoon!) feeling enlightened and the happiest I had been in a long time.  I was proud of myself for how far I had come from my resignation, 9 months before, and finally felt ready to leave and start the business of my dreams!
Here and Now So here I am, 2 weeks into my “freedom” and feeling happy, inspired and motivated.  I have thrown myself into the entrepreneurial world by attending a meet-up with total strangers! The unhappy and unmotivated me would have NEVER have put herself out there, but the new Becky did and felt incredibly proud of this change. I haven’t once thought that I have made a mistake, or that I miss any aspect of my job (apart from my friends, of course, but we stay in touch).  I wholeheartedly know that I’ve made the right decision, and that re-ignites my passion and enthusiasm every day! It’s early on into my journey, but equally it feels like it has been a long time coming.  I don’t believe in regrets, as I believe everything happens for a reason and there is a learning in all our actions.  I believe that the time between making the decision to resign and finally leaving, gave me space to work on me and my mind-set.  I couldn’t feel inspired, motivated and ambitious if I was still feeling unhappy with myself and in life.  It may have taken me longer than others, but it’s my journey and I feel so proud at how far I’ve come when it seemed so unimaginable before.  My focus for the next 6 months is to complete the basics for my business – create a website, build a social media following, find and retain clients, and continue to prioritise self-care to ensure I am giving my business and clients the best possible me in every way.  I have my annual, monthly, weekly and daily to-do lists to keep me on track and aligned to my mission. As journaling and sharing my story works to keep me inspired and motivated, I have decided to document my journey in a blog called ‘Style & Happiness’. Please do follow to see how I get on. Becky x
Thank you so much Becky for sharing your story with us. I know you will have inspired so many people who can really connect with your journey. You can follow Becky’s story on her blog at https://stylehappiness.blog If you would like to share your story then please contact me at hello@myjourneytofearless.com If you would like to connect with lots of lovely women who are on their own journey just like this one then pop over and join my Facebook group here >>> https://www.facebook.com/groups/177055942918652/ Until next time Laura x