A bit late if you read these live (sorry), but today we’re saying hello again to Sally-Jayne Braisby from SJB Teaching. Having first met Sally-Jayne in August 2012, and revisited her in September 2013, it was a difficult one last year, as she had recently lost her mum, and was taking things slowly. At that point, necessarily, she was seeing where things led and not planning too much: “To be honest, I’m still taking things one day at a time so I’m not making any future plans for the time being. I’m just going to see where life and work takes me over the next few months, and then when I feel ready I shall reassess where I am and where I want to be.” So, let’s see how things are going for Sally-Jayne now.
Hello, again, Sally-Jayne: it’s good to have you back. Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
This time last year I hadn’t made any real plans for the future because I was still coming to terms with losing my mom just a few days after my previous update. Unfortunately the last 12 months have been equally difficult. A few days after my update last year my Dad got rushed into hospital – equally suddenly and unexpectedly as my mom had been, and for the 2nd year in a row I ended up sitting in Resusc, watching someone I loved fighting for their life. Thankfully he pulled through and he was finally discharged from hospital on Christmas Eve. It took a while after that to fully recover though, and he didn’t get the all clear from the doctor until the following July. The result is that with juggling work commitments, hospital visits and looking after Dad’s house as well as my own, I wasn’t able to put any real effort into changing things, so some of the plans I had for developing new career pathways were left on the back burner again.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
The biggest change I have made this year is to work less. The only way I coped over the last two years was knowing that I had always made time for my family – even when that had meant staying up into the early hours to get work done after spending time with my parents. I’ve realised though that you can’t do this indefinitely and that something had to give. I now set aside one day a fortnight when I don’t go into schools, and this gives me a chance to catch up on my planning and admin. I’ve also reduced the number of evenings I work, which means I have extra time to spend with family and friends.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
I’ve learned that there will always be more work than you can do, and that it’s OK to say no. I still have a waiting list for tuition but I don’t feel guilty anymore that I’m setting time aside for me instead of taking on more pupils.
Any more hints and tips for people?
Set your goals and work hard towards them – but never let work become more important than your family. Remember that working for yourself means that you have the power to make the decisions that are right for your life and not just for your business.
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
I’d still like to do more university language teaching, and there is a possibility that this could happen this time next year so I’ll be looking into that. Other than that I’m hoping to move more of my work closer to home to cut down on travelling time, so I shall be targeting local schools offering my services for next academic year. This should then free up more time for tuition and still leave me time to spend with my loved ones.
I was moved by Sally-Jayne’s honesty and generosity in sending in this account of another difficult year – and I’m sure we can all find something of use in the hard-earned learning points that she’s described. Sally-Jayne had this final thing to say, which I completely understand and respect: “I think I’m going to make this my last update. Having finally achieved that elusive work-life balance after a tough couple of years, I’m not planning to make any major changes to my working life, so this seems like a good time and place to bring my updates to an end”. We wish her all the best for a stable and happy time ahead, and there’s a space in the schedule now to be filled, so let’s see who will fill that in …
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.