After 14 years and six different roles at NAB, one of Australia’s banking juggernauts, Louise Hodgins made the decision to leave the corporate world, pursue her passion for fitness, and turn it into a career. Despite working her way up the corporate ladder and earning more than enough to live comfortably, something was missing in her life.
“I was in a sales role as a mobile mortgage manager, but it was too consuming and life became all about work,” said Ms Hodgins.
“My last job was a sideways step that got me out from behind the desk and allowed me to concentrate on my other passion of competing in Iron Man events. But in the end there were changes happening at NAB internally that I didn’t agree with, and had no control over, so it was the right time to leave.”
It took a long time to make the decision
For two years Ms Hodgins thought about leaving before finally making the decision to sever ties with NAB and become a Personal Trainer. She experienced the usual doubts that everyone does when making such a big life decision, and it wasn’t easy to leave the security that her job at NAB provided.
“I have always had a passion for fitness, and always wanted to be a personal trainer, but I thought there wasn’t enough money in it to sustain my way of life,” said Ms Hodgins.
“I’d have a bad day at work and make the decision to go, then I’d start to think about how much it would cost, how would I get clients, and then think ‘no I can’t do that’.
“It took two years to get the confidence to lose that fear, save enough money to set myself up financially to survive the early stages of being a Personal Trainer, and finally make the decision.”
Getting the confidence to make big decisions
Becoming a number within a large organisation rather than a valued employee is a feeling experienced by many Australians, and often leads to doubts about their commitment to their current career.
Ms Hodgins started struggling with the fact she had no control over policy changes and decision making within NAB that was affecting her job, and questioned whether this was the life she wanted for herself moving forward. But with age and experience she was discovering what was important to her, and an inner confidence to make life-changing decisions.
“I actually loved what I was doing, but I wanted to play a part in making decisions and challenging policies, and that was impossible,” said Ms Hodgins.
“I started thinking to myself ‘I’m a grown adult and I don’t want to just be a puppet’. Every six months something would come up and I thought ‘I don’t want to do this any more’, so I decided to follow my heart, which is in fitness.”
Making the change from one career to the next
With long service leave on the horizon, Ms Hodgins made a plan to get her finances in order, enroll in a personal training course, create a business plan and make the break from the corporate world.
To set herself up for the transition, Ms Hodgins and her then partner devised a business plan for her personal training career that would ensure she was financially viable in the short term, able to differentiate herself from the competition, and quickly build a client base. Thus, Adrenalized Fitness was born.
“I did my research about different fitness organisations and who I would study with,” said Ms Hodgins.
“I went and registered for a course while working for NAB, so I still had the security of my job. I took long service leave during which time I completed the six-month course, and as soon as I finished I knew I was never going back.”
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing
Despite the planning that has gone into leaving NAB and setting up her own personal training business, there have been times when it’s been tough financially. Initially there was a burst of new business, but as is the nature with personal training, various factors have contributed to inconsistent earnings from one week to the next.
“I targeted people that were included in my business plan, but as people suffer any sort of financial hardship, personal training goes. It’s a luxury for most people and that affects my bottom line,” said Ms Hodgins.
“I work for myself at the moment, and I’ve asked myself ‘should I work at a gym?’ But I’ve done research into that possibility and it wouldn’t make any difference.
“Winter is a down time because people don’t want to train outside, or they lose their job, or get sick, so they cancel and that affects me. It’s a tough gig, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Perspectives on the life change
Despite the financial impact, Ms Hodgins has been a personal trainer now for 10 months and her outlook on life is totally different from when she used to work in the corporate world.
“I’m a different person from who I was at NAB,” said Ms Hodgins. “I’ve noticed the changes within myself as have all of my friends.
“I’ll never go back to the corporate world. I must admit I considered it for a while, but I’m much happier now.
“While I was working for NAB I could see I was dependent on having a partner because of the politics within the organisation. I needed that support. Now I have the one thing in my life that I love, I’m more complete in myself now and don’t need someone else to fill the void.”
Carefully consider the implications before biting the bullet
Making a dramatic career change like Ms Hodgins did and going from a highflying corporate career to pursuing her own personal training business takes courage and planning. But it took her two years to resolve the doubts in her mind and plan for the future before making the leap.
For Ms Hodgins the positives far outweigh any negatives and she is ecstatic with the way her career is progressing so far, but advises anyone else considering making a career change to think long and hard before quitting their jobs and pursuing something new.
“It’s the best decision I’ve ever made,” said Ms Hodgins. “But I don’t have any children or other large financial obligations”
“I would recommend changing careers if you’re not satisfied with your current role, but do your research and make sure it’s not just an idea that’s popped into your head.
“It’s a decision that must be considered over a period of time, but once you get to that point where you know it’s the right decision, there’s no turning back and you will make it successful.”