“My biggest challenge was exploring what I was really good at versus what I thought I was good at because that’s what you’re used to.” shares Lisa Ferris, the Virtual Lifestyle Assistant and Co-founder of The Hearts in Business
Lisa realised her lifelong dream of working in the city was expiring. Lucrative employer and well paid job were leaving her feeling unfulfilled. Following severe depression, Lisa decided to explore her happiness plan. What was holding her back from following up on her dream job? Was it money or something else?
In this interview Lisa shares with you her journey, lessons learnt and tips how to make a successful career change.
Where do you come from and where are you based now?
I’m in Essex.
As a child did you have a dream job?
Yes, several actually, and its interesting you ask that as it only dawned on me the other day that a majority of my dream jobs (or at least what I thought was my dream job) when I was a child have either happened already or is starting to naturally unfold now.
My dream job when I was a child was to become an air hostess, then as I grew older I became fearful of flying🤦🏼♀️. So that didn’t happen…
Next up was a Personal Assistant, but not just any Assistant. I wanted to work in the dreamy world of Canary Wharf in one of those huge towers. I used to gaze out the train window on my way to my first job in London and tell myself “it will happen one day!” And it did! Still can’t quite believe it really.
I was far from experienced when I went for the interview for ‘PA to Operations Director’ but out of luck I got the job working at Citibank. I was over the moon, and even more so when I saw my first pay slip lol! I think the lady, Gill, who hired me took me on because I was so eager to learn, and I proved her well. 8 years later… I was still working there.
When and how did you discover direction for your ideal job, career or business?
I realised I had potential to do more in the last 2 years of my career at Citibank, when my former boss, Lesley would often encourage me to pursue another direction, more specifically to become a trainer for aspiring Assistants at Citi. But it wasn’t just that, I’d often put myself forward for new projects and HR initiatives but to then be turned down because of “lack of budget” – you probably know that one, right?
It was only till Lesley had left Citibank that I started to feel less motivated with no real cheerleader behind me and my career passions.
A few months after her departure, I had a few personal issues at home which triggered severe depression in me. About a month later, I was sent to a mental health hospital for about 3-4 weeks where I then really had to dig deep into ‘what Lisa really wanted from life’, and not what my parents wanted!
Which was half the problem – I was led to believe after a while that I wasn’t worthy enough to leave my big high flying career in the City. That’s what I told myself anyway!
What did you do about it?
Following 6 months of further therapy where I worked on my new ‘happiness plan’ (let’s just call it that for now), I realised I didn’t want the long commute to London anymore. I suddenly realised that actually there was more to me than sitting behind a desk. I wanted to inspire others! So I resigned! With no job to fall back on.
A few weeks prior I had passed my exam to become a Therapist, when I was sure that was my new pathway, but nope the universe had other plans…
Shortly after that, and with the help of my therapy I decided to combine my interests around wellbeing, mental health and skills as a PA to become a Wellbeing Virtual PA. Not sure what that is? Neither am I really, but it just felt right. I wanted to be the Assistant and Creator behind the Therapist or Wellbeing Coach, and that’s what led me to my new direction.
How did you recognize your genius – what are you best at doing in your career or business?
I’m best at being a creator for sure! I only really discovered this probably about 6 months ago when I got my first eBook design assignment and fell in love with creating it! I’ve always liked making things look pretty but wasn’t sure what pathway as a Virtual Assistant that would lead me to.
So, after a couple more client design projects and seeing their reaction to my work I knew that was what I was going to do more of. What I love most about it is exploring the person’s brand and turning their wonderful content into a magical eBook or landing page. I’m hugely fascinated by psychology, more specifically brand psychology so it seemed like the right fit!
My other genius, well (I hope so) is teaching others to create. Which I believe was the missing link all the way back from my Citibank days where I was encouraged to become a trainer. Now, as Co-founder of The Hearts in Business along with Helene Musso, I have naturally fell into a teaching/trainer role but to so many wonderful heart centred, kind and wellbeing kinda people! My fave 💖
What is your ideal job or position in business now? Why you do what you do right now?
My ideal job is to step more into my creative zone, and to coach or train others to step into theirs. And to inspire others would be nice too.
Work and life balance – what does it mean to you and how do you keep it?
To be selfish with your time. People are not mind readers until you set your own boundaries.
Its still a work in progress, but I manage to balance it by letting a client know my eta time around when they can expect for me to get the task done, which takes pressure off when managing my own time. But also, I take every Friday afternoon off now for some me time.
What have you learned on your dream job journey (what was most difficult to overcome)?
The confusion I think! Exploring what you’re really good at vs what you think you’re good at because that’s what you’re used to.
I’ve learnt to do more of what I desire and less of the stuff that I don’t, which can be really hard and sometimes the less desirable stuff pays more of the bills.
How did you make your career change/starting your business work financially?
With only £40 in my bank account at the time. No joking! I used my last £40 before my next payday to buy a wix (website) domain and email address. I then set up a Facebook page (for free) , studied my VA Mastery course and then got some marketing help as soon my next payment came through.
Thankfully, I had a partner at the time who fully supported me, and helped financially until I landed my first client. Which took about a month, and it was a BIG client. A banking client who offered a lot of hours and payment- bonus! That helped hugely until I really explored my business brand and passions further.
Any TIPS that you’d like to share with people considering changing jobs, career or starting freelance?
What, Why and How;
My thinking process behind most things nowadays.
What – what you’d love to do as a career that is realistic.
Why– explore what this means for you on an emotional level. Why do you want this so much? What does life look like to you if you got your dream job? Make notes of those happy feelings and put them somewhere visible for you to be reminded of.
How – realistically, how can you make this happen? A new study course, work experience? Giving up some of your personal time to dedicate to learning a new skill.
Most importantly, forget what everyone else tells you what you need to do for a career. Only you can make your own happiness.
Author: AdriAna Kosovska
Professional and certified coach & founder of ZERO TO DREAM JOB ACADEMY
I work with employees, managers and organisations that care about
Dream Job | Talents and strengths development | Stress reducation