Life Change: accountant to photographer

Lizzy Bell changed from an unrewarding life as an accountant to her dream job as a photographer and was interviewed recently by coach and journalist Suzy Greaves (during a bike ride from Lands End to John O’Groats!).

Lizzy’s epic adventure

Lizzy’s story is such a great one for anyone stuck in a rut and wondering what business to start, I wanted to blog about it.  Especially following a recent survey that said being a photographer is No. 4 on the top 10 list of dream jobs.

So how did she do it?

Lizzy originally trained as an accountant and got a ‘proper job.’ “I’m not even that good at maths’ she laughs. “Like many people you end up in a career, you earn this money and you get channelled and things don’t maybe feel quite right and you just keep going and going.   I got to my mid to late 30s and thought this is not enough.”

Her ‘epiphany’ came after having to go to work on a Saturday.  “I was in the office and I did some work.  And then I was driving to a friend’s house, it was her little boy’s birthday party and I was in floods of tears and thought I can’t go on.  I don’t know if it was about working at the weekend but something just triggered and I knew this is enough, I can’t carry on like this. I’m in this rut and I just need to get out and do something completely different.”

Over the years, Lizzy had heard about a charity called Raleigh that does development work overseas.  “I looked it up and just thought, I have to carry on with my career.  But I downloaded the application form, completed it and sent it off.

I was scared.  When you leave the corporate world you have all these other people saying ‘why would you want to do that?’  But I knew I had to get out.  The hardest step was to pick something and to sign up for it.  Once you’ve done that things start to happen.”

Lizzy had planned to return and come back to do a PGCE.  But on her return she discovered she was unwell.  She had already accepted to do some contract work with her old company whilst applying for teacher training.

During this period she underwent treatment and worked for her old company part-time to support herself.   Lizzy recovered and mulled things over.  Would a potentially stressful teaching job be right for her at this time?

Lizzy, a former accountant now a successful photographer

Her other big passion was photography which she practised alot during her trip with Raleigh.

“But I wasn’t sure how I could make money out of it.  I thought this could be the ideal solution to set up a business and do it part-time.   I got all my friends and their lovely children and started doing family portraits for them…and people just loved what I was doing.  That snowballed and I used my accountancy skills and decided it’s now time to make the leap and do it full-time.  It’s alot about having a good laugh with the children. It just works.  And with word of mouth and a bit of local advertising it’s become something I’m very proud of.”

Advice to anyone stuck in a rut: “I wrote down I wanted to be with a guy like this, want to be working with children.  There was alot of detail putting it down on the page and allowing yourself no judgement on your dreams and ideas.  It’s incredible what can happen.  Join something.  If you make that small step weird things happen, you meet likeminded people and things start to move.”

Hear the full interview with Suzy Greaves.

And see Lizzy’s beautiful photographs: Lizzybellphotography.com

Thanks both to Lizzy Bell and Suzy Greaves.

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13 Responses to Life Change: accountant to photographer

  1. Tim Mushey says:

    Wow what a fantastic story! Thanks for sharing! I am sure Lizzy will inspire others to look in the mirror and make a change as well.

  2. Thanks for your comment Tim. It is a great story isn’t it. So fantastic when people find their niche in life – and imagine if Lizzy hadn’t – what a waste!

  3. Tim Mushey says:

    Reblogged this on Sell, Lead, Succeed! and commented:
    Sarah has a wonderful blog going here, and I encourage you to check it out. After I read this post yesterday, I found myself contemplating the message several times. Enjoy, and take a moment to really think about it. Are you doing what you really love?

  4. Tim – what a compliment – thank you so much – but Lizzy’s the real draw I know.

  5. aver1 says:

    had to reblog this…great read!

  6. Sara Martin says:

    Loved this article! The quote by Lizzy about once you pick something and sign up for, things start to happen, reminded me of one of my favorite quotes. I’ll paste it below, but the point is the act of committing yourself 100% is an invitation to the universe to bring all sorts of surprises your way.

    “Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

    – William Hutchinson Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951)

    Great post!

  7. Sara – thank you so much for your comment and the magnificent quote. You have made me see how commitment and decision making are two key elements of being successful. P.S love your blog!

  8. stuartart says:

    My other half is in this place right now – her job is driving her crazy! At some point she’ll make a decision. Sadly, most people just continue until retirement. We all have the potential to live OUR lives, we just need to choose that. 🙂 Great and inspiring post. 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your comment stuartart. Having someone else’s support is always useful – as there’s usually alot of resistance to change from everyone else – as Lizzy points out. Good luck to your ‘other half.’ The beginning is the most daunting part.

  9. Thanks for the great post. Too many people follow paths that we are told will lead to success, but we each have our own definition of success and that is the path we need to follow. Here is a quote that I came upon recently and shared with my beautiful 17 year old daughter. She is learning to listen to her own inner voice and I am so proud of her for having the courage to do that.

    “There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the end of strings that somebody else pulls.” – Howard Thurman

  10. Thanks for your comment and very apt quote Laurie. It does takes courage not to follow the path everyone else is. We are encouraged to pursue one thing. Trying different things out may ensure we get to a vocation we’re passionate about more quickly. Good luck to your courageous daughter.

  11. Pingback: Blog Start Up: my top tips | Find Your Dream Job

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