Begin Again

A sponsored post for TAFE NSW

I’ve never been good at plans. Short term, long term, they always seem to elude me and whatever I tend to come up usually gets pushed to the side as life gets in the way. I was never one at school to know what I wanted to be when I grew up (man I AM grown up and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!) in fact, when it came to choosing what I was going to study after my HSC I actually just filled out the University entry form copying my mate who was sitting next to me.

It wasn’t until months later, when the results had come in and I received a letter telling me that I had been successful in getting a placement for a Bachelor of Design in Visual Communications that I was like, huh, so that’s what I will studying. Quite an expensive way to work out what the hell I wanted to do!


So March came around and I found myself in a 4-year degree which was actually AMAZING and I loved every moment of that degree (graduated with honours thankyouverymuch). It wasn’t until I finished and found myself going to interviews and missing entry level jobs in graphic design and magazines with RENT now required that I started to panic…what was I going to do?!

I actually got some temp work at my brother’s finance company where I started working a few hours a day and then a few days a week and slowly but surely the interviews were replaced with work! And money! And I incidentally found myself working in finance?! Full time.


See what I mean about life and plans and all that?

So there began my 10 plus year career working in finance. I worked in finance! And insurance! And financial planning! And office management! And then back in corporate land as an Executive assistant and there I worked for all of my twenties and into my thirties. Through a relationship, broken engagement, start of a new relationship (hello Rob!) and then marriage and then two pregnancies and two daughters and eventually a resignation when we decided to pack it up and make the move to the country.

While I worked I studied as well, completing other learning in my areas of financial planning, mortgage broking…god can you even believe that was ME? I studied online, via correspondence, different ways to help me whenever I was stuck and wanted to extend myself further.

Funnily enough it wasn’t until my little “hobby” of blogging actually became the true avenue that I wanted to explore. It was that creativity that I had studied at Uni that I missed and craved so much….this little blog allowed me to write, I ended up creating my own “magazine”, being the photographer, the editor, the writer, the accountant, secretary…all of the things! My dreams of working in magazines, or advertising or food styling all come true every day on here.


I know when we start our careers that we can “accidentally” find ourselves working in an area or industry that we would never have though of before…or maybe that’s just me?! Bills or being a grown up force us to do things that we may not have dreamed of, but we find ourselves going to everyday, and then 10 years later you go…HUH.

I also think that motherhood can play SUCH a part of this. We throw ourselves into our new roles with determination and gusto and find ourselves years later filled with self doubt, lack of confidence and sheer exhaustion wondering what the hell happened to that person who used to get dressed up, go into an office and run meetings…was that really me?! At least they used to listen to us! And let us go to the bathroom alone right?!

I loved that song that Claire Bowditch wrote a few years back that we were lucky enough to hear live at a Problogger conference many moons ago…it talks about wanting an amazing life, but not knowing where to begin…

“You want to write a novel, make beautiful music
Acting lessons, you know inspiring humans
Learn a language and run like the wind
Help people fit in, travel to every country
And make a million dollars
And smile when the children have babies
Make the heart your home
Inventing in the warm you want
An amazing life
But you can’t decide
You think you have to be fully formed already
Don’t you?
You want an amazing life
But you can’t decide
You don’t have to be just one thing
But you have to start with something”

God don’t you just FEEL those words. I know I did. Have. Do. I’ve sobbed in the car listening to it wondering about what I should be doing. I know I am not the only one that has done that…it rings so true for so many people who start something, then something else and STILL dream and want more.

Education can be a great way to START that process of beginning again. Because why not? I am certain that most people would change careers at least 3 or 4 times in their adulthood. I mean I have a job now that didn’t even exist a few years ago…see? BEST not to make plans! I have over the years trawled through TAFE courses thinking maybe…planting a seed of a plan…and there’s nothing like a what if to get my belly fired up!

Why couldn’t you go back and study that thing you planned?
Why couldn’t you try something you never thought possible?
Why couldn’t you go back and finish that course/degree/dream that you started before life got in the way?

Why not I say!

TAFE NSW offers over 1200 courses from certificates or degrees and with family and life and just being a grown up you can be in control and choose what works best for you: part time, full time or online.

I love that at any point in time we can still be in control of our own happiness. Why not think about starting our own business, about re-entering the workforce after a break in our careers to raise the family, there are so many options to look at like online courses or maybe like my accidental business career!

You can check out the full range of Semester 2 courses at TAFE here.

How about you guys? I would love to hear your stories about accidental careers, or maybe re-entering the workforce after work or studying at TAFE to re-ignite an old dream or passion and take control again!

Have you studied course that led to a whole new direction in your career?

Had an accidental career, or maybe two or three?
Still wondering what you are going to do when you grow up?
Don’t worry, we all are, keep going, keep growing and be a little ambitious!

Illustration by Lize Meddings


  1. I thought I was one of the lucky ones. I thought I new exactly what I wanted to do when I finished year 12 and I was lucky enough to be accepted into a Fashion design 3 year uni course of my dreams…… However, all my plans came undone when I finished the course three years later knowing that was exactly what I didn’t want to do……(I now work in IT and love it! Yep, go figure) My daughter is doing year 12 this year and in the same position as I was back then, so self assured on what she wants to do with the rest of her life and the course she is after….. It will be interesting to see the swings and roundabouts she has to jump through to find where her passion lies.

  2. I’m in an accidental career and so glad I stumbled here. It would have been a good idea to do some business courses though – hindsight is a wonderful thing!

  3. Oh gosh, I was so young and insecure when I left school so I followed some friends into a teaching degree. I knew I was good with kids but honestly, it was not for me at all. I wanted to help people but not in that way it turned out. I did exactly half of the degree and figured that was a turning point. Go any further and risk having to finish it or change direction. I left, got some more life experience and then realised my passion of counselling. I worked as a volunteer phone counsellor and then went into a bachelor of behavioural science – fascinating stuff that can lead to so many things career wise (not to mention it changed my whole life and how I see the world). I worked in community development in a great job but life’s stresses sabotaged everything – it was the worst year of my life. I had a baby not long after and now that baby is 5 and I’ve worked casually to help my parents’ business but I’ve also entered a world of possibilities with writing for actual money! Something the kid me would never have dreamed of. I have a lot to build on and so much to figure out, but I think this is my latest calling for sure!

  4. I did a degree in literature and ended up in marketing /marketing research for 10 years. Similar story to yours, I was temping part time to get through my honours year and ended up in an EA role too. Then on to the research part of it after that. I never loved it, but the money was good and it was just kind of handed to me. After kids I did a MA in Editing & Comms to get back to what I loved about my degree. Crazy how we meander off, but I guess it helps distill what we really want.

  5. All I knew at the end of Year 12 was that, despite being a great student, I didn’t want to go to Uni. So a week after Year 12 ended I started a full time job as a junior in a law firm in the city (2 hours from home). I had always wanted to live in the city, but wasn’t prepared for the terrible home sickness that would kick in when the novelty wore off. I shook it off though and resisted the urge to return home. Legal then became working for a massive FMCG business which morphed in to HR in a variety of businesses. I am now suffering a mini mid life crisis (hello 40’s) and know I don’t want to do what I’m currently doing, but have no idea what it is that I actually might like to do. Ho hum…I’m sure it will all figure itself out however – at least I haven’t had the urge to buy a sports car and leave my family 😉 I still don’t really regret not going to uni. So many of my friends went and now do nothing like what they studied and it has been of no real benefit to them. With the wisdom of age I now don’t know how you’re expected to plan out your life at the tender age of 17 or 18…seems ridiculous!

  6. Louisa Walker says

    I followed the well worn path of school straight to the big Uni to study. I became a Geologist because of my love of the bush, but the realities of that job meant too much time away from loved ones and fluctuating career prospects (mining boom & bust!). Then I rediscovered my passion for science and sharing it with others so I studied teaching. The realities of teaching were exhausting trying to mould these young beings (aka deal with their behaviour) and keep up with professional demands. So I side-stepped into a role promoting and supporting the teaching of geology. My title was Executive Officer (fancy!) After having my babies I took up a teaching position at TAFE – I loved it! Sharing my mining industry knowledge and experience with adults!!!! After a mental breakdown I stopped working. I have moved to the country and now I’m developing my next career step……. mental health blogging? executive officer of life? who knows whats next!

  7. After a major relationship breakup and epic fallout, I decided to do something for myself. Despite family and friends doubting me, I started my Masters at age 28. It took me 6 years to finish it. During that time I met a new man, moved overseas for a year, got married, came back to Sydney, had two babies and was 37 weeks pregnant with my third when I graduated. Looking back now I don’t know how I did it. Sometimes a bit of study was the ONLY thing I did for myself. I did that degree because it was well regarded in my field of work and it ended up opening a lot of doors. But the biggest thing of all was the sense of achievement and proving to myself I could do it. Education is power. It’s never too late!

  8. I went to Uni, studied Property and eventually found work as a property manager. Once I had my kids I took some time with them, and then went back to study an Arts degree. Loved every second of it – I studied the subjects I loved, not what I ‘should’. I learnt so much about myself through those 3 years – and even though I didn’t take up the Honours I was offered, I was offered it. I’m now back working in the property industry, but in a management role. Life has come full circle, but I love what I do now, and I’m a better person for making sure it was what I wanted to do when I grew up (happened for me at 40).

  9. Oh I feel this post deep in my bones! I was also one of those people who had no idea what to do post-school… I am still very unsure. I have an undergrad in Anthropology, a certificate III in floristry, and I am currently doing my Masters in Primary Teaching. What a jumble of mismatched non-direction. I question everyday why I started with the teaching journey, what my true motivations are and if they are the wrong reasons for doing what I am doing. But what I do know is- none of it is ever a waste of time. It is all leading somewhere, and who knows what door will be opened along the way. I often feel embarrassed that I am approaching the end of my twenties and all I seem to have are these non-starts in careers that never went anywhere. I have to repeat this mantra (courtesy of the very wise Cheryl Strayed- you should DEFINITELY read Tiny Beautiful Things if you haven’t already) to myself often:
    “You don’t have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success. You don’t have to explain what your plan to do with your life. You don’t have to justify your education by demonstrating its financial rewards. You don’t have to maintain an impeccable credit score. Anyone who expects you to do any of those things has no sense of history of economics or science or the arts. You have to pay your own electric bill. You have to be kind. You have to give it all you got. You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth. But that’s all.”
    It is a GEM of a book filled with stories and advice that will make you laugh, weep, and heal things inside yourself.

  10. Linda Jenkins says

    I trained as a Nurse in the hospital system and specialised in Critical Care Nursing so worked in very busy ICU and Cardiac Units in a big private hospital in Melbourne. Moved to work in the Operating Theatres and studied a Certificate 4 in Workplace Training and Assessment so had a focus on Education and Training for the last part of my Nursing Career which lasted for 27 years. At age 45 with 3 kids I decided to try something new and worked as a Store Manager for Kikki K for 4 years before presenting the Workshops that run for the customers over another 4 years. Now with all 3 of my kids as independant young adults I am looking for my next thing at age 52! A recent Tarot reading has inspired some great ideas and I feel I am moving into another phase of my life. I’m not sure what is going to happen next but I am open to ideas and opportunities and excited about my future with my husband of 29 years. I love to read for inspiration and as per the comments above trying new things, education and believing in yourself is powerful.

  11. I just started studying online this week – a Bachelor of Psychological Science. I have 3 kids under 4 and I expect it will take me anywhere up to 10 years to finish. I’m 43 years old. I’m testing the theory “can’t treat an old dog new tricks”!

  12. mrshanksy says

    I love this! My daughter is also in Yr 12 and my advice has always been to try as hard as you can and then it will give you more immediate options but you are not defined by this year alone!!! She has a good sense of self and will be fine wherever she lands. She’s fun, has a sense of the whimsical but is also are a hard worker. She pays for all her own petrol, is paying my old car off – giving me money weekly because LIFE!! She’s had a flat tyre and a parking ticket in 2 weeks so she’s already getting the sense of how shit things can be but I’m trying to teach her to not slide down a slippery slope of “whoa is me!” I’m enjoying looking at all her options and keep reminding her how exciting this time of her life is and not to be filled with gloom. So much stupid pressure on kids at such the wrong age, doesn’t make sense and generally they put it on themselves, no matter how many times you say… this is not ALL it is. I give her examples of people that only find their passions later in life. You do NOT need to know at 17!!

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