ONWARDS AND UPWARDS
Considering a mid-life career change? Three Kiwi women who ditched dissatisfying jobs to pursue their passions tell us how it’s done — and what they’ve learned along the way
The perks of changing your career
Claire Robbie (37), was a news reporter on TV3’s Nightline before a tumultuous time living and working in Los Angeles led her to discover the life-changing benefits of yoga and meditation. At a low point in her life, what started as a hobby became an integral part of Claire’s healing process, and as her love for the practice grew, so too did the sense that she had discovered a new vocation. Now based again in Auckland, the yoga and meditation instructor is dedicated to sharing her passions, whether it’s in class or at a Jack & Olive wellness retreat, the side-business she founded in 2013.
Also the founder of mindful drinking movement No Beers? Who Cares!, the single mother is worlds away from her old LA lifestyle. But some habits die harder than others, and as she circles back around to a TV reporting role, Claire reflects on the career 180 that’s just come the full 360, and what she’s learned about having it all.
How did you wind up in the media industry — what about it initially appealed? Growing up, I always had an affinity for storytelling, a desire to be of service, and an overwhelming need to be part of something greater than myself. I studied political science at Auckland University and had visions of working for the Red Cross or the UN or as a war correspondent. At the age of 21 I left New Zealand for Japan where I got a job at an English radio station and my ‘journalism’ career was off. From there I moved to China and worked as a radio reporter before returning to NZ and a job on Nightline, which I absolutely loved. When did you realise the industry wasn’t for you? Actually, I was dragged from
Nightline kicking and screaming. My ex-husband got a job in Los Angeles so we moved there for him. I couldn’t get a work visa for a couple of years so I started doing a lot of yoga to fill in my time and found that I loved so much about it. When we got our Green Cards and I could legally work again I got a job in marketing and events at a beautiful boutique LA hotel, but it ended up being one of the most high-stress and toxic jobs I’ve ever had. The Hollywood party lifestyle also started taking its toll on me. What prompted your career change? At this time, I was going through some pretty intense personal stuff and re-evaluating a lot. In the space of a couple of months I left my husband, quit my job, gave up drinking, and started my yoga-teacher training — a pivotal moment and a decision I’m so pleased I made. Living in LA, I got to train with some of the world’s best teachers and pretty quickly yoga became my life. Tell us more about what you
do now. I teach yoga classes at Auckland’s Studio Red and run meditation courses throughout the year, as well as retreats in Bali, Mexico, and other amazing places. Of course, you can’t teach what you don’t practice, so I start every day with meditation, which is hands down the most transformative life-tool I have ever been given. Without it I wouldn’t have the wherewithal or inner resilience to do all the different things that I do. This includes No Beers? Who Cares! for which I put on events around Auckland, and funnily enough, I have just started back in TV, reporting part-time for Seven Sharp.
As a single mum, I also have to work around my number-one priority — my three-year-old son, Jack. But I have an exceptional mum who is basically my wife and helps with EVERYTHING. I feel incredibly blessed that I have the opportunity to do all the things I love. What made you gravitate towards your new professions? Having experienced the effects of both yoga and meditation on my own life, sharing them felt like the most natural thing in the world. I also love talking to people. The human experience fascinates me. How did your previous work prepare you for what
you do now? I’m grateful that communication and language has always been a big part of all the jobs I’ve had, as writing is now one of my greatest skills and, being self-employed, I have to do a lot of it. Plus all my own photography, graphic design, accounting, forward planning, marketing, and social media, for which my understanding of the media, PR, and marketing industries has put me in good stead. Having worked as an event planner in Hollywood I also know how to roll out a high-quality event, which is exactly what a Jack & Olive retreat is. What gaps in your knowledge did
you have to fill? I’m a perpetual student and my yoga-teacher training is ongoing. However, I also teach what I know, sharing what I experience in my body and mind, and the things that have helped me with such universal conditions as anxiety, depression, as well as the stresses of motherhood and life in general. What’s it like working for yourself? It’s better than I ever could have imagined — once you experience the freedom of being your own boss, it’s tricky to go back to other work. That being said, it comes with a different level of stress in the sense that you are your everything. If you or your child gets sick and you can’t work? No pay-cheque. Plus no Kiwi Saver or paid holidays or maternity leave… basically you have to be okay with a certain level of financial instability. But I got used to that and quickly realised that true stability doesn’t come from a regular pay-cheque, it’s an inside job. What are the biggest
challenges you face in your work? Keeping disciplined. When I was a journalist we had daily deadlines and I work really well under that kind of pressure. I can be a massive procrastinator so you have to set goals and be vigilant with them which is much easier said than done. What are the rewards? Freedom. The complete joy of being the motor in your own boat can’t be put into words. I love being able to prioritise my health and well-being, and that I get to spend more time with my son. How has the change of scenery in your professional life made way for personal growth? I’m often out of my comfort zone and have gotten used to that feeling — to the point where I now love the unknown. I’ve also completely shifted my values. Certain things just aren’t as important to me anymore. What’s your advice to
anyone considering a drastic career change? Life’s too short to spend focused on material gain or ‘enjoying’ a false sense of security in jobs or relationships or environments that aren’t really you. Trust yourself and just think about what you might do if you knew life was rigged in your favour — because it is!
Claire Robbie is so grateful that
she has yoga and meditation in her life that
she feels compelled to
help others discover it too.