Money natters: How Nazia Islam balances her 9-5 with her dream career.

By Kimberley Bailey

Discontented with her 9 to 5 role Nazia Islam, invested her evenings and weekend doing courses as a massage therapist.

Dissatisfied with her day-to-day role Senior Clinical Audit Officer in the NHS Nazia Islam, 30, invested in her real passion by taking evening and weekend courses to qualify as a massage therapist and reiki practitioner. Now, two years later, Nazia who has secured regular clientele at the weekends working at Neal's Yard and wants to make massage therapy her primary job and earner.


Q: When you were a kid, what aspirations and dreams did you have for your future?

A: To be honest it wasn't until my teenage years that I developed aspirations and that's when I got into art. I’ve never been career driven per se but I always wanted freedom to be creative.


Q: Would you say that you're currently in your ideal profession?
A: With regard to my main job, definitely not. It’s an admin job which I fell into after University and although, across the past seven years, I’ve worked my way up I felt stuck in it. It’s my part-time job as a massage therapist which is my real passion.


Q: What are the biggest factors that hold you back from stepping into your ideal job?

A: The fundamental thing for me is being confident enough to jump into the freelance world and start my own business - which is the ultimate goal. I work for Neal’s Yard at the moment but even working for someone else as a therapist it’s your responsibility to get, and keep, the clients. With my regular job I know where my money is coming from each month and exactly how much it is. I have outgoings like anyone else, so it is scary leaving that security behind. It's a risk.

Q: What would you do with £50,000?

A: I can’t even imagine having that much money to spare but if I did I'd definitely have the confidence to quit my job right away and start my own holistic therapy business, or at least buy into an existing one with friends I’ve made through my massage training. There are a lot of people in the same position as me.


Q: What, or who inspires you?

A: I feel most inspired when I'm running or pursuing my interest in health and fitness. A lot of my friends are in the athletic world and a lot of the public figures I learn from, and are inspired by, are into holistic therapy; like yogis and chefs. I really like the vegan ultra-runner and blogger Rich Roll and anyone, really, who makes a living out of doing what they enjoy and supports and educates other people to be healthy.

Money management

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10 how savvy do you think you are with your money, and where could you improve?

A: I’d say around seven. I think I need to be more strict when it comes to putting money aside. I know there are certainly things which I spend money on that I could do without - like clothes and shoes - but I'm seriously working on that.


Q: Where did you learn to manage your money?
A: I’d say I actually learnt from other people’s mistakes. I’ve never owned a credit card or taken out a loan for example, because I’ve witnessed first hand how people can get stuck in that rut.

Attitude towards money

Q: Which 3 words would you use to describe how you feel about money?

A: It depends on how I am financially at the time. If I'm struggling then it’d be words like nerve-wracking, stressful and anxious but otherwise I don't let money control how I feel. Having a lot of money doesn't really excite me.

Q: And if you had to pick 3 words to describe your future?

A: Hopeful would be one. I’m not in a bad situation but at the same time, because I am on the verge of changing my career, unpredictable is another word I'd use, and changeable.


Q: What are you curious about in relation to money?

A: My biggest curiosity is how people successfully lead a non-materialistic and minimalistic life. There are people I read about who hardly own anything and keep everything to the bare minimum, and they say they’re happier because of it. I want to know how they get to that point. I’d love to get to know how to get to that stage.


Q: Which purchases would you consider your best, and the ones you've most regretted?

A: It's quite embarrassing but one of the most stupid things I spent money on was a subscription to ‘The art of knitting’ magazine; it was about £12 a month and in the two years I paid for it I didn't do a single bit of knitting. My best purchase has been my therapy course; it has benefitted me in the long term personally and has brought me a completely new professional direction.

Decisions & influences on them

Q: If there was one decision you wish you could go back and change, what would it be and why?

A: I wish I'd chosen a degree which felt right for me then. I felt persuaded to take English and it seemed like everyone was just expected to get a degree at the time. But deep down I really wanted to get into Art. I enjoy being creative and wish I'd followed that route.

Q: What are you most proud of in your life?
A: Learning to be more independent and aware of myself in terms of my health and fitness. Reiki and massage training have tied in so much with my personal journey and I think I’ve really grown up as a result. It took a while for me to get that whole ball rolling and to push myself to qualify but I’m very proud that I did.


Q: In the next 2 years, what do you see changing for you?
A: Absolutely my career. People say you get a 7-year itch, but I’ve had the itch for a while and it’s about time that I listened to it. The plan, within the next 2 years, is that I’ll be out of the NHS. I won’t be sitting in front of the computer, tapping away like a monkey. Instead I’ll be completely invested in holistic therapies full-time hopefully. Then eventually I’ll learn different type of therapies like sports and Thai massage to broaden my repertoire and skills.


Q: What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given in life?
A: The best is honestly the really cliché saying “stop doing what you don't enjoy”, and although it’s often scary to take big leaps I still believe it’s so important. Also, the type of people who give that kind of advice are the ones who, themselves, take the bold risks and follow their passions. Those are the type of people I want to listen to.


Q: And the worst?

A: I get the same message from all of my career-driven friends and it’s that I should just put my head down, get far in my day job which pays pretty well, make loads of money and settle down. I actually think I’m more scared by that though, because I find it all to be very materialistic and it’s just a ripple effect of expectations and milestones that people think they should achieve, but I find most of it quite unfulfilling.

Work & lifestyle

Q: What is your financial goal for the next couple of years?

A: To be independent enough, and have a comfortable base, to start my own business, or at least go freelance in that transition period.


Q: What are the top priorities for you to achieve that goal?

A: Simply to continue to save. I’ve been doing well so far but will be more strict with myself. And then, of course, get all my ducks in a row such as building up my client base and making the right contacts in my field of interest so I feel confident enough to take the leap and quit my main job.


Author bio:

Kimberley is a freelance journalist investigating the world of personal finance for giffgaff Money, while exploring and trekking through Asia. She adores Prince, Louis Theroux and Persian rugs.

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