Taking a U turn in life - advice or similar experiences!


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After 30 years in a very specialised industry things may be coming to an end, thanks to a hearing issue, leading to stress, overlaying a stressful job and possible burn out. A break may help a return, but I guess in reality I need to take a step backwards and reassess.

Reading some posts buy the esteemed I.Farticus and some others, this isn't uncommon. The question is how to reassess, retrain and restart something else.

I should be mortgage clear if I have to stop, so that is a stressor that would be gone.

An ideal would be something self employed with opportunities to take the time I want to fish, stalk to fill the freezer, and pay for it. Also the ability to wind back over school holidays and ramp things up during term time. The other half will keep on working full time (and that hasn't gone down well!!)

Whilst I don't believe in unicorns, any thoughts, suggestions or shared experiences would be welcome. I need to plan now so if push comes to shove and I have to close that particular door, I will at least be prepared.

I had thought about setting up a kitchen fitting business, having asked a company to quote last year. The owner/sales person turned up in a mint Range Rover so didn't get the job, but clearly there was some money in that area! Apart from doing up house about 20 years ago I haven't got a huge experience of using building tools. Don't think doing Design at school counts really!

SD seems to cover a very wide spectrum of members so this seemed a pretty good place to start.


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If you think being self-employed will lessen the stress, you are in for a shock.


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Find a business area you're really passionate about. Plan for the best, prepare for the worst! I had my wee catering business all set to go following a redundancy, but fate had other plans in store. It's still on the back-burner though. You perhaps have a slight advantage in that it sounds as though financially you're in a better position than I was. Others will have far more (and likely better) advice than I could offer, but a sound and realistic business plan will give you a decent framework as to how you should structure both your exit from your current position, and your transition to your new business. And the very best of luck with it!!!

Edit: And stick to a U-turn! Take my advice, and do whatever you can to avoid scurrying about in ever-decreasing circles like I seem to end up doing :-| :lol:


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If you think being self-employed will lessen the stress, you are in for a shock.

Yeah, what he said. Unless you have a particular skill that you are very good at I would warn against it. Just my opinion but everybody seems to be self employed now, with the advent of the internet, ebay, Not on The High Street etc everyone has an outlet for there "business". It used to be that "word of mouth" kept the trades honest, decent customer service would keep a shop running and a great knowledge of a product would help a half decent salesman but now all you really need is a mastery of social media. Tiny companies can look big, new companies can look established etc and fake reviews are the new word of mouth.

Don't wish to be negative as have been self employed most of my life and whilst not wealthy, I'm happy but would I start from scratch again? No.

Good luck with whatever you decide.


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Just do what you want to do. Don't be swayed by pressure to conform to a certain standard of living or social position.
As far as earning goes, you only need to earn as much as you need to spend. Cut your clothes to suit your cloth. ie, if you want to scale back on work commitments then accept that your income will be less and adjust your lifestyle accordingly.
As someone else has pointed out, being self-employed isn't stress free, but it's a different kind of stress. It won't suit everyone, but some people thrive on it. Personally, I've always been self employed, and wouldn't have it any other way. I've seldom shown a profit above 5k per year, but what more do I need? I have all the time in the world to do my own stuff, spend as much time as I like with my kids, take a day off if I feel like it, and go shooting whenever I want. Other people have to pay for those privileges.


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Just do what you want to do. Don't be swayed by pressure to conform to a certain standard of living or social position.
As far as earning goes, you only need to earn as much as you need to spend. Cut your clothes to suit your cloth. ie, if you want to scale back on work commitments then accept that your income will be less and adjust your lifestyle accordingly.
As someone else has pointed out, being self-employed isn't stress free, but it's a different kind of stress. It won't suit everyone, but some people thrive on it. Personally, I've always been self employed, and wouldn't have it any other way. I've seldom shown a profit above 5k per year, but what more do I need? I have all the time in the world to do my own stuff, spend as much time as I like with my kids, take a day off if I feel like it, and go shooting whenever I want. Other people have to pay for those privileges.
This used to describe me a few years back

Home Loader

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I have a friend who left his job for stress reasons he was financially safe but still need to earn a little. So he started mole trapping and now does wasps and picks up 4 days a week during the season! He is now one of the happiest people I know!
Talking to him he just knew he had to make a change for his health and his marriage, if you feel you need a break/change do it life is to short to keep stress in your life.


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First thing you have pretty much covered which is accepting a change almost certainly needs to happen.

Sometimes it isn't necessarily what you do that makes you, it is more a case of what opportunity or lifestyle your choices can afford you.

A few years back I decided at a young age (late 20's) that I was fed up chasing the dollar. I had always earned quite well but never seemed to have money as I just spent what I had. I did't have any children and didn't want any and decided that I just wasn't happy with the results from my efforts. I had no satisfaction from monetary gains but obviously I knew I needed shelter, food and clothes etc. I sold the whizzy car and restructured my life in terms of how I was spending my money. All wastage stopped.

I left my job which was the standard 8 to 5 sales existence that I was good at but never cared much for. Instead, I stayed with the same company but took on a reduced hours role with the freedom to work when I wanted, as long as the work was done. I halved my salary but felt I took a massive pay rise in the form of freedom.

11yrs later I am still doing the same thing and I have no plans to change my lifestyle whatsoever. Don't get me wrong, I have no dependants which make it easier and I don't live the life of riley but I still easily run a car and a house and can pursue my interests like shooting, fishing, golf etc. I don't have a busy social life. I don't smoke and rarely drink. I don't gamble or do anything with money that is not required. Weirdly, I always seem to have more than enough money to do what I want to do including travel and going to events that interest me.

Best of luck. Cannot suggest what you should do as I don't know your skills or passions but I would personally say try not to follow a passion as a career but accept a job is a job but find one that allows the rest of your life to blossom. The ensuing freedom and lack of pressure will allow you to pursue your passions for you rather than for money.
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norma 308

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A guy on my g friends new housing development started a handyman one man band he is in undated with work literally booked ahead by weeks -months ! Busy stressed people don't have time to do decorating ,fence erection patios ECT £££££ work as little or as often as you like

The Singing Stalker

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There is plenty of work out there if you want to be self employed. Handy man, tradesman, plumbing solar installation etc, window fitters, I know someone locally crying out for window fitters. Getting a tradesman is a xxxxxxg nightmare. I need to get some plastering done in the house if anyone knows anybody.
your issue is as you say, experience, you would have to retrain. That is possible but if you are going to retrain you need to find something you like. It will be stressful as people have said, but some people find it an easier stress if that makes sense. I however am not that sort. I like my 9 to 5 but then I'm not stressed and left alone to get on it. I had a business and hated it. But then, that may have been because I wasn't very good at it. :D.
Find a job that involves getting a skill. Everyone can stack shelves. Less people can make them.

Finally, be happy, that is the most important thing. Think about what makes you happy, think of the work that might be of interest to you, take to someone who does it and even see if you can go out with them for work experience.


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I was made redundant 4 1/2 years ago at 49 years old, well paid, company car, good pension, health care etc. However it was a grind and I was fed up with it. I didn't get to see much of my boy growing up and had little "free" time.

I didn't want to carry on as before so I decided to try something new and be my own boss. Well I haven't looked back! I now have my own pest control company, I pick and choose my schedule and have loads more time on my hands. I have spent all day with my son today (working) and loved every minute!!!

I hasnt been been easy but it has been worth it.

ps it would have been difficult without the redundancy package!!!

Good luck.


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I was a Toolmaker and it soon became aparent computers and CNC were going to kill my future and besides I was erning good money but I was on top rate and going nowhere. Next promotion was dead mans shooes and a half dozen needed to die first :D

I decided that was not going to be my life, waiting on a 2% payrise etc. so I quit.

I planned to follow my passion & open a comedy club with food & a bar. So prety radical stuff. Went to work for Trusthouse Forty for 25% of what I had earnt as a tool maker and double the hours. Spent best part of a year training and working as a bar manager and restaurant manager. Long hours, crap pay but good fun. Mean while I went to the bank and managed to raise 100K finance plus I was selling my flat for another 100K and id found a venue with a 12month lease for 65k so it was looking good. Even started interviewing comedians.

Then Black Friday hit the stock market.

My flat went from 100k to 50K, interest rates shot up and the bank pulled my finance. I was very lucky I hadn't signed the lease yet.

Cried a bit then went back to what I knew working as a toolmaker. Very depressed and now short on money, my wife left me and I nearly lost everything but just managed to hang on to the London flat. It having been slashed to 50K and with a 30K mortgage I only needed 10K to get the wife gone. She also got the car and our joint house in Kent, but we all know that story

Very quickly I realised I'd go mad working for someone else in a dead end (if reasonably paid) job so got the itch to try again

Comedy club idea was totally dead due to lack of funds so I retrained as a building surveyor whilst working commission only and self employed for a major supplier of specialist building products. Not my dream job & not great pay, but it got me qualified for free.

In about two years I was set up doing consultancy work and technical support and pulling in a good income. Twice what I could have earnt as a toolmaker. I even had a corner of a depot in Chelmsford, a van and a delivery driver. I got commission on sales, paid for consultancy and paid for doing guarantee reinspection work. Life was good.

Then one morning the company I did most of my business for was taken over by our main rivals and I literally turned up at the depot to find it empty. I couldn't survive as a consultant alone so within literally two weeks of the company being sold, I was looking at a 75% pay cut.

However one of my clients wanted to retire so I approached him about going into business with him then taking over the company when he did. No salary id just keep 50% of every thing we made.

That was in 1998 and I still own that company plus I diversified into property management and lettings in 2006

I also qualified as an EPC & HIPS surveyor and was at one point going to make that my main business. Sadly the government scrapped HIPS and EPC surveying is under paid & dull so I dropped that and just carried on with my Timber & Damp company.

Ill be retiring next year aged 55.

I started out working fourteen hours a day six days a week, but now I have the company set up & running smoothly I only work three days a week.

Right now I play golf three times a week and go stalking at least once.

The only reason I am telling you all this is to make you think about whats important to you and make you realise flexibility is second only to personal drive when it comes to success.

What ever you decide to do, just be aware its probably not what you will end up doing, its just a stepping stone.

I regret nothing looking back. Yes id love to have got the comedy club off the ground. It was going to be called Chasers and I am sure it would have been a success but that time has passed. It would cost at least a million to do it now.

For me working for me was key. I liked reaping the benefits of my hard work and I coped OK with the periods where I earnt very little. I also found building defects surveying to be interesting but to be honest, the most important thing was not having a boss and keeping all of what id earned.

I know many people who have started their own business and I noted a few things. The vast majority of those who worked hard, succeeded. Some (but not all) of the ones that didn't, failed. A few worked hard but got carried away with finance spending it on company cars and nice offices that couldn't be justified on turn over, They went bust.

Never be too greedy and never take on a contract that will cripple you if you don't get paid.

HTH or at least gives you something to think about, and good luck
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Tom D

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I can’t suggest what you should do, but as others have said being self employed can be just as stressful as working for someone else. I love it though, and wouldn’t have it any other way, I now have 9 full time employees and some part timers, really good guys and that makes my life easier. There was a time when I was working crazy hours because I was doing everything, now I can delegate and life is good..

I have a friend who is also in tree work he works with a guy who he gets in when he needs him all his kit is bought and paid for, he has no debt. He often goes days without working, which suits him fine, he can make enough working just a few days a week. Contrast that with me, huge wage bill, close to £200,000 of kit on finance and a lot going on every day, I ought to be more stressed than my friend. But I don’t think I am, I’m happy with the way things are going and if I wasn’t I’d change something. It’s horses for courses, you need to make a plan, implement it and then see if you like it. Don’t be afraid to change it either.

One more piece of advice, if you do end up in a trade, or as a handyman don’t be too cheap. All the people I know in the tree game who are stressed out are too cheap. They’re really busy and they don’t make any money, so their kit breaks all the time and they spend lots of time fixing things and being stressed. Better to work 3 days a week at a decent rate than 5 days for the same money....


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For me the U-turn has been more of a gradual curve, increasing in sharpness as I go along it. I decided to follow my long-held desire to work in the countryside. Without experience and with college off the cards, I've been learning skills through a combination of formal training courses and some casual work fitted around my shifts in my other job. Since the spring, I've learnt to drive a tractor with various implements, operate a chainsaw, fell trees, erect high quality livestock fencing, reverse a trailer, load items with a telehandler, etc, etc, etc... All good strings to my bow.
What started as a cash-in-hand "work experience" has now turned into the foundation of a subcontracting business, and alongside the labour I provide for the agri/fencing contractor I have just this week made a few contacts in forestry businesses who are looking for self-employed fellers on upcoming contracts. Registered with HMRC, business bank account, insurance, etc, etc. Having been doing this alongside my other job, I've been able to invest the extra cash into some useful tools and kit, nice PPE, and the couple of training courses I've done, which I wouldn't have afforded out of my ordinary salary.
This is all good, but it means I'm now in an awkward position. At some point soon I will have to take the plunge completely and leave my secure job, because I'm being offered more work than I can take. I need to be confident that the work is there for me, but of course I can only know with absolute certainty once I'm in a position to take it on. I am still inexperienced, which means I'm slightly limited and will have to start fairly cheap, but every opportunity will be experience gained, skills practiced and improvements made which will all help me to gain more and better contracts in the future.

Seeing people mention handymen has given me a bit of inspiration as well. There must be plenty of people locally who have minor, quick DIY jobs they need done. That's an extra few quid on a Saturday morning!


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Whatever you do make sure you enjoy it.
Worked for HMG for a fair while then transferred to industry, got a degree the hard way and was successful in my profession.
I had always shot and stalked and helped Keepers (my Grandfather being one). One day out of the blue I got the offer of an underkeeper's job and despite many protests from my then wife I took it. I never looked back, ok reduced income by two thirds and worked 24/7, but it was a way of life for me and I have never regretted it. In my old age I am still involved with a wild bird shoot and still stalk (or watch deer) every day more or less.

Jono 4

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I can only echo what others have said, its still stressful being self employed, I've worked for myself for 11 years, now have 5 soon to be 6 staff, there are things i've done in business I've learned from, but I wouldn't change any of it, this week i've done 3 14 hour days so far, but i'm away for the next 2 weeks so am getting things ready for everyone whilst I am away. When I started the business I had a really good guy who wrote the business plan with me, took it right back to basics and built our client proposition, but started with what I wanted to earn from the business and then what I had to do in our industry to make that. I still really enjoy running the business 19 days out of 20, and cant think of anything else I would sooner do, its enabled my family and me to do so many things we wouldn't have had the opportunity to do and given us choices that if I didn't work for myself we wouldnt have had.

Heym SR20

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I have been self employed for most of my life and would n't have it any other way. You need to keep life simple and keep overheads to a minimum. There are three major expenses:

1) Mortgage / Rent - clear the mortgage if you can, or keep it a realistic level. You don't need half a dozen Jacuzzis and new carpets every year. Major killer are kitchens, white goods and TVs, Sofas etc. I look in horror at family and acquaintances who spend £20,000 plus per annum jist on furnishings and keeping up with the latest flat screen.

2) Vehicles - you have two choices here. Go with the latest Merc / Rangerover / Audi etc and pay out £1000 per month to have the latest bling. Or buy the same vehicle when it is two / three years old, fully depreciated with a few thousand miles on the clock. Look after it well, put a personal number plate on if that matters, and run it to 200,000 miles.

3) Holidays - these are essential, but there are many good ways to have really good times away with family without huge expense. Added to this are the drink and eating out bill. Its not difficult to drop £100 to £200 on a few drinks and a bit to eat at the pub. Do this a few times a month and it very quickly adds up. A bunch friends for supper around the kitchen table with a good bottle of wine and a venison stew, or even better out in the woods with some tents, fire and Poitje Pot just as good if not more fun.

Once you have costs well under control, you can live perfectly well for not a huge income - that takes the stress out of life, and that means income then happens.

John Gryphon

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My biggest mistake was not marrying a rich bitch instead of the economy class that I ended up with..long gone now thank phuk


Active Member
Chris Evans, Radio 2 on wednesday morning had a section on people doing just this and starting a career afresh. Don't know if you can find it on Iplayer or something, but the show was on at about 8.30am, might not give you any ideas of what to do, but the people interviewed have never looked back!