“Step Outside Your Comfort Zone”</em></strong>

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

The first in the series of five blog posts about teacher and career change is a fantastic story from teacher to meal-planner and it comes from Claire Gillies based in the UK. Claire shares her story about career change from Primary School Teacher to business owner: Claire has just launched her own meal-planning business called Delicious and Real.

Claire’s Background as a Teacher

Claire explains that she was a full time teacher before having her first child – and while she loved being in the classroom, the admin and data was, at times, overwhelming and stressful. 

Challenges in the Workplace

She had a wide range of responsibilities e.g. at the time of her maternity leave she was a class teacher, head of year and a head of English.  She was working in a 5 form entry Junior school in Luton (the children were aged between 7 and 11 years old) where the majority of children had English as an additional language. To her dismay, there were lots of challenges and the pressure was high: striving to please the Local Education Authority was almost impossible with the cohort of children in the school.  

From Full Time to Part Time Teaching

Dropping to 3 days a week, after the birth of her daughter was a good move, but she felt, she explains, that she wasn’t able to do her job properly (due to not wanting to leave her daughter at nursery late) and she wasn’t being the best mum she could #mumguilt. Sound familiar?

When she went back after having her second child, she wanted to reduce some of her workload but the new head refused: it was obvious that he didn’t like part-time teachers – so she handed in her notice.  She paid back her maternity leave money and left.  

Finding Job Satisfaction Outside of Teaching

She started off dabbling in some local freelance journalism which she could do at home – She outlines that she did this for about 6 years but she wasn’t passionate about it and it didn’t give her much job satisfaction so she went back to teaching very part time (Claire still teaches one day a week).

Early Stages in the World of Business

Then, when her dad was diagnosed with cancer, she started to dabble in social media and food.  She had a Facebook and Instagram page which she used to inspire and motivate others to cook from scratch – something she felt passionate about.   She loved the community which she built and discovered a whole new world – She found something she was good at and people were giving her recognition for it … it felt amazing and she was really happy in her newfound hobby!

Obstacles, Hurt and Challenges Along the Way

Since 2017, she has lost her dad and 49-year-old brother to cancer and her other brother (47) to a heart attack.  She has learnt the hard way that you never know what is just around the corner and that you have to seize the moment.  

Time to Make the Leap

With this is mind - she decided, in late 2019, it was time to set up her food business.  Using her online presences as a springboard, Claire launched Delicious and Real - an online meal-planning site that aims to take the decisions out of dinner times.  Each week subscribers are emailed 7 of Claire’s ‘simple and tasty recipes’ - they can use them as they are or edit the online planner choosing from over 200 recipes.

Being a working mum, Claire totally understand the pressures that this entails: we are all time poor and cooking dinner is often the final straw at the end of a long day.  It is all too easy to go for the convenient options: she wants to get people to cook from scratch and show them that by planning ahead and choosing simple recipes they can take control of what they eat.  

Her children, now 10 and 13, are pretty independent and she now has more time to dedicate to inspiring others.  2020 is definitely the year for doing something for HER!  

Her business finally launched in July 2020 and Claire is loving the new challenges it brings. Learning all things social media has been a massive learning curve; as has visibility – teachers aren’t very good at shouting about their successes and promoting themselves!  But, the world of business women is amazingly supportive and networking with other mums in similar position has been such a boost!

Teachers’ Transferrable Skills

Claire has learnt that many of her skills from teaching are transferrable and really help in the business world e.g. organisational skills, being approachable, having the ability to talk to anyone, being able to pretend that you know exactly what you are doing and are not at all nervous (I think this is known in the trade as ‘winging it’!!) and having good literacy skills.

Also, Claire notes, that there is a whole network of people out there who are willing to give you a helping hand – you just need to ask.  Through Instagram Claire has met a professional organiser who has become her cheerleader, recommending her services to clients; and an amazing Social media expert who is always willing to advise. 

Claire advises against doing the typical teacher thing of being self-depreciating – have faith in yourself and your skills she encourages us to think, be kind to ourselves and take action.

The Positives from Career Transition

Claire realises it was worth the change when she looks at how good her work/life balance is and she considers how much less time she would have had with her children had she carried on teaching full time.

“Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone” she warns us. Sounds like a fantastic reminder to us all to reflect on where we are playing small and not stepping outside of the zone in many areas of our lives.

Her advice for teachers is - that if you have a real passion for something – do it!  Maybe work part-time first and test the water.  She states “I really enjoy my one day a week – it is exactly why I decided to be a teacher:  I get to work with children and have none of the extra hassles (reports, parents’ evenings, data collection and analysis, meetings, displays etc)”. Sounds like the best of both worlds.

Thank you Claire

I’d like to thank Claire for sharing her story of career transition. You can find her website at www.deliciousandreal.com where she has fabulous cooking ideas for all and it’s clear that her community is growing and developing that healthy habit  of cooking from scratch: Claire is doing a wonderful job. Her social media accounts are:

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/deliciousandreal/ and

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/deliciousandreal/?hl=en 

Continued success and happiness to you and your community!



There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!