Crossing many Thresholds
My journey from a career civil servant to a freelance facilitator and mindfulness teacher, by Nicola Lowit
It was 2012 and I was sitting in a room near Old Street in London with a number of other women from the civil service. I had my eyes closed, and was being led through a visualisation around imagining my ideal career. I had a very clear picture of sitting at a desk at home looking at trees out the window, and of training people in some sort of personal development capacity. As far as I was concerned this was completely random and not at all what I had expected.
I had joined the civil service in 1999 as an SEO, and was promoted several times in fairly quick succession. Fast forward to 2012, and I was a DD in the Ministry of Justice. Not massively happy with my job, thinking it was time to move on, and assuming promotion was the way to go. I was looking around rather half-heartedly, not really sure what I wanted, when someone told me about this course which could help me get promotion.
It was while on Crossing Thresholds that I decided I really didn’t want promotion. It became clear to me that the bits of the job I loved were all people focussed, developing individuals, building teams, coaching and mentoring. I had been a trainer many years before I joined the civil service, but hadn’t thought about it for years. So I teamed up with a colleague who specialised in Organisational Development, and we started delivering ‘lunch and learn’ short courses to our Directorate around wellbeing. I was also being asked to deliver sessions on managing stress and building resilience to other departments.
I loved it, so when Thresholds advertised for facilitators, I got in touch with Fiona, the founder and MD of the company who had been my facilitator on the course, and was taken on as a trainee. I was still working full time so I moved to a 9 day fortnight and devoted 2 days a month to learning the ropes and eventually being signed off as a Thresholds facilitator.
I wanted to do more work with Thresholds, so I went down to 4 days a week in order to deliver courses 4 days a month for Thresholds. This worked so well that I had started thinking about whether I could support myself if I left the civil service. I had also just started teaching Mindfulness and I wanted to see if I could make a go of it.
Late 2018 and the MoJ was going through yet another restructure – an annual process by now. There was talk of a voluntary exit scheme, so I applied and was accepted. At the same time, my partner and I decided it was time to move out of London. 2019 was a momentous year for me, I left the civil service after a 20-year career and moved out of London to East Sussex.
I am now in the ideal life I visualised in 2012: working two days a week for Thresholds, teaching mindfulness, volunteering, and looking out onto trees and greenery!