This month’s career transition interview is with Lucy Lucas (what a great name!), who left the world of finance for a portfolio career in Ibiza.
Lucy makes so many good points and her story highlights a number of central themes that we’ve seen before: the importance of becoming aware of and challenging your underlying beliefs; the fact that money may not, in fact, be your most important value; the importance of being ready to make the change, both in practical terms (having saved up money or researched your new life, for example) and emotionally; and the fact that you yourself are often the biggest obstacle to making the change that you so desperately need.
Read on to discover how Lucy became aware of her limiting beliefs and created the life that she wanted for herself.
Yoga teacher in Ibiza
After 15 years working in finance, Lucy Lucas has recently moved to Ibiza, where she now teaches yoga, is involved with local projects, retreats and businesses, and provides coaching, both online and in person.
1) At what moment did you decide it was time for a change?
It was the weekend of Kate and William’s wedding, and I had been in Devon visiting friends. When I got home to my flat I just knew, with every ounce of my being, that I could not go to work anymore. It was like I had hit a brick wall. I wasn’t upset, I didn’t cry, I just knew.
Throughout the previous eleven years, I had been beset with often debilitating depression, back pain, stress, self-loathing and a lot of debt and I had been using alcohol, holidays and shopping to cheer myself up. The weekend of the royal wedding was when I finally started to wake up.
I worked for Deloitte as a consultant at the time, and they were fantastic; they let me take time off on medical leave and allowed me to come back part time when I felt ready. During that time off I went to Ibiza to visit a friend, and it was being around people who had actively chosen a different life and had made it work that opened my eyes: maybe a different way was possible? I went home from Ibiza and resigned from Deloitte; I spent the final four years of my finance career contracting as a freelance project manager.
2) What was the biggest challenge you faced in making the change?
Myself. The biggest challenge was getting out of my own way, and unpicking all the beliefs I had which kept me in London and in finance. A lot of these beliefs were about money and financial security, along with a belief that I could only live in London: that only London could give me what I needed, that all my friends were there and I would be lonely without them. I think this is why it took four years from when I started to wake up to when I finally left. I used those four years to pay off all my debts, to learn not to rely on shopping and other things outside of myself to make me happy – but also to acknowledge that financial security is a reality and save up money so I had a buffer for when I finally left.
During those four years, I also lost a lot of friends – or rather a lot of people I went drinking with disappeared, and real friends were left – and those that were left were on a different path to me, with mortgages and children and corporate careers. I had little left in common with many people in London, which then set me free to go and meet new people, in London and also elsewhere. I also got over London itself: it was too noisy, too dirty, too busy; its energy no longer worked for me.
I had to allow all this to happen in order to be ready to leave. I couldn’t force it – or make it happen. As an example, in 2012 I left a banking role (at a firm I actually really liked, on an interesting project, with a boss I greatly respect) and went to Ibiza to work at a yoga retreat for a couple of months. I came home after two weeks: I missed London, my friends, the stability, the predictability; I wasn’t ready to leave London and my old life yet. I also learned that I am not a spontaneous, drop-everything-and-go type of person – and that it’s okay to be the way I am.
3) Where did you get the support you needed to make it happen?
My family have always been incredibly supportive. We are actually a bunch of creative, socially aware, spiritual hippies, so I’m not sure where my banking career actually came from – certainly not from them! I know they miss me as I’m out here in Ibiza, but they are also very pleased that I am finally doing something that makes me happy. Friends have also been supportive – although I think it’s important for people to recognise that if you change your job and your lifestyle, then your friends and relationships are going to change as well. You can’t change one thing and expect everything else to stay the same – it won’t.
The people I’ve worked for in banking since I left Deloitte have also been supportive. One boss at Nomura let me work for four days a week so that I could do my counselling course and volunteer with psychiatric patients. My last boss at HSBC knew six months before I left that I was moving to Ibiza and was genuinely excited and pleased for me. I never had to hide my escape plans; on the contrary, the more open I was about them, the more supportive people have been.
I also got a lot of support from my yoga and meditation group at Battersea Yoga. We are all on a personal journey of awakening and growth, and for some that means leaving the country, for others leaving a relationship, and for still others nothing much on the outside will change at all. But we will all leave unhelpful and restrictive beliefs and behaviours behind. Knowing that there were others who understood how important it is to come back to your true self was very important for me.
4) What’s the best part of your lifestyle today?
I do a variety of things, and use different parts of my brain on a daily basis. From teaching yoga, to helping a company set up an online booking system, to cooking on a retreat. I don’t sit at a desk all day, every day, and instead I am able to fit activity and movement into my routine: cycling to my yoga class and teaching yoga, as well as swimming, going hiking or kayaking with the company I work for. It is much better for my mental and physical health and I feel much more connected to the world around me and to other people than I ever did sitting in an office.
I also like doing work where I can see a direct impact: people saying they feel better after a yoga class, or seeing our new online system working and bookings going up! There is research that shows that the further away people are from the value they create, or the outcome of their work, the less rewarding that work is. You can still work for a corporation, but how close are you to the actual outcome or value creation of that firm?
Also, I live in Ibiza, so there are other advantages such as being able to swim in the sea on a daily basis, or go dancing to fantastic music, or eat natural fresh produce from the island. Even if I return to England one day, it will be to the countryside so that I can continue to connect to nature.
5) What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is considering making a big career or lifestyle change?
Wherever you go, or whatever you do, there is someone who is always there: your Self. If your Self doesn’t change, if you don’t do the work to understand what makes your Self happy or what it needs, if you don’t challenge the beliefs it holds, if you don’t even bother to really get to know your Self (and the vast majority of people are totally disconnected from their own Selves), then it doesn’t matter what you do or where you go; nothing will actually have changed at all.
Start with your Self and the rest will follow.