5 Tips to Make Career Change Exciting


You have been there – thinking about your work, something inside is shouting ‘no more’ but the shelf life of the courage to change is about 3 seconds. Popular reasons to stay put include ‘age’, ‘money’, ‘the house’, and so on. Here is a fear-busting manifesto to really generate and pursue your best career ideas. And yes, this post is inspired by my all-time favourite training and career guide: Richard Bolles’ ‘What Color is Your Parachute?’

1. Trust what you enjoy

Are you thinking that your personal quirks and interests cannot make money? Think again. I worked with a gentleman in his 40s whose beloved Starwars collection led to a successful home-based import venture (and his wife no longer threatened to divorce him over a cluttered house). Also, I recall a young administrator whose longstanding interest in health and roller skating secured her a position in health promotion as a well-being officer – after only two interviews, and without going back to school. With this enjoyable stop-gap job under her belt, she is now looking further into unusual settings for roller skating coaches. Then there was the senior marketing manager who passionately loves historical cities and is now designing an innovative history app for tablets. I could go on. Please, please, always trust what you enjoy, and you will find an open door.

2. Dare to be unrealistic

Would you believe that a prison officer over 50 could land a job in the beauty & make-up industry without any re-training or work experience? No? Neither did I back then. However, the lady I knew did this within three months of making the decision. After some research, she walked into her favourite beauty outlet and introduced herself although they had not advertised any vacancies. She shared her decades of interest in beauty products with the manager and was granted an interview one month later. Her genuine desire ‘to make people feel beautiful’ got her the job. Or take the unemployed mother who attended my workshop suffering from chronic pain. She said she loved crime investigation and wanted to work for MI5. Even I wondered: ‘Is this realistic?’ Well, she dared to research it and found that MI5 had a recruitment drive for applicants with disabilities that very month. Richard and Gary Bolles recommend to pursue the whole dream, please, without cutting it down from the start, so that you can go chasing that dream with your whole heart.

3. Combine favourite interests and prepare to be surprised

In Richard Bolles’ Parachute career guide (get your 2016 edition now) you will find a chapter showing you how to identify your ‘special knowledges’, also known as ‘fields of fascination’ or ‘interests’. These often point to new career fields. Whatever your age, prepare to be surprised by combining your favourite fields. Let’s take ‘food’ and ‘travel’, for example, as selected by a recent client who felt thoroughly misplaced in events management. Even a basic 15-minute Google search of ‘food travel’, and ‘travel food’ yielded such an abundance of exciting ideas that she needed a break to digest the options (fancy being a raw food chef on the Maldives?). Add your favourite location to the equation, and new horizons will emerge. Some years ago, a workshop participant combined the following: ‘the elderly’ (favourite people), ‘golf’ (favourite field), and Spain (favourite location), No longer able to play golf or manage care work, he filled the then-market gap of ‘golf holidays for the elderly in Spain’. Needless to say, any field research also includes joining interest groups, attending related events, browsing trade magazines, volunteering etc. So, please combine any fields you love, enjoy your search results and go hunting for your options.

4. Talk to everyone you know (or want to know)

Have you avoided changing career due to lack of contacts or information with regards to a new career field? Here is an easy experiment to remedy this: at the next social event, training, or hair dressing appointment wait for the guaranteed question: “And what do you do?” This is your cue to deliberately change your answer: instead of mentioning your current job through gritted teeth, how about sharing what you’re researching, wondering about, or envisaging for the future? Give as much detail as you can without boring the listener, and await their response. Nine times out of ten they will ‘know someone who knows someone’ who does something similar, or they are dying to help in some other way. Perhaps you can discretely inquire far enough to receive contact details – bingo! You are one step further. Talk to everyone, please, even distant acquaintances because they often hold the new information you need to make a change.

5. Visit contacts in your desired field and give yourself time

Lastly, are you feeling a little hesitant about contacting ‘experts’ in your envisaged field? You are not alone. Richard Bolles suggests to practice having simple conversations about passionate interests first – without any job-related agendas. When you feel more confident, ask for 10 minutes of time from someone who is established in their field but lives outside your immediate catchment area (avoid competition). With a well-prepared set of questions around how they got to where they are (while sticking to the agreed time limit) you can go a long way. Apart from being stimulating, this important step will reveal advantages and disadvantages of your desired vocation, it can help you avoid mistakes, and it will automatically expand your network. Please take your time. Most people spend more hours researching what car to buy, or where to go on holiday rather than what their real vocation is. We are talking about your life here. As Simon Sinek from New York tweeted recently: “It’s better to go slowly in the right direction than go speeding off in the wrong direction.”

If this post rings a bell for yourself, or someone you know, do come to the autumn Career Parachute Weekend at the lovely Sparkford Hall in Somerset. Event details:                     Find Your Calling – discover the work and life that expresses your true Self”. http://www.sparkescapes.com/#!escapes/c1g33

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Is Your Vocation hiding out right under Your Nose?






Finding your real Vocation need not be a long arduous journey. It merely takes some willingness to take heart, to think, and to put pen to paper. Your efforts may well get rewarded by finding what you’ve been looking for right under your nose. Our story this month shows how you might not only discover what you want to do, but the very means to do it:

Martisse (42) used to enjoy her administrative post at a university but found herself increasingly snowed under by a huge workload. She started to suffer from frequent colds and the nagging sense that there is ‘more’ to her became impossible to ignore. She first came across ‘What Colour is Your Parachute?’ in 2013 but felt too burdened by her job to take a closer look at the time.

One year later, she attended a free Parachute talk and booked some individual consultations. This allowed her to take a fresh look at her favourite transferable skills, (e.g. ‘creating’) and her favourite fields, or passionate interests, (e.g. ‘health foods’). Having always enjoyed art, she admitted that creativity was ‘as essential as breathing’ to her.

Following the completion of her self-inventory, Martisse ran a ‘Parachute Party’ (brainstorm event). She discovered to her utter surprise that a friendly acquaintance not only shared her passion for raw chocolate, but also her vision for a related venture, such as a mobile raw chocolate shop – and had complementary business skills to go with it. Here is what she has to say:

“I’m now formulating a plan with my new business partner who holds a startlingly similar vision of what kind of products we’d like to sell. Recently, we did some impromptu market research by offering our chocolate samples to staff, including the Head Chef, at a cafe near Stroud Farmers Market, and they all loved them!

I feel on track with my new work in a way I never have before. I feel like I’ve stumbled out of a dark, foot-tangling forest and emerged into a sunny meadow – a place where my dreams are easily seen and, more amazingly, where it feels possible to reach them. It’s fantastic to have finally discovered something I love to do that ticks all the boxes.”

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Trust What You Enjoy – Always

What Colour is Yours?The richness of people’s stories, and their willingness to test the Parachute Paradigm never ceases to inspire me. Let me introduce Stella and Louisa, two special people.

Louisa (34) contacted me after seven unhappy years as a financial analyst. Having joined the world of finance as a post-graduate, she never felt at home but ‘got stuck there’. She recalled how an ex-partner encouraged her to stay in the finance sector and be more ambitious since it was a ‘good job’.  Over time, Louisa lost track of what she actually wanted, and eventually her relationship broke up.  Coming into contact with the Parachute helped her remember an important but long-forgotten pleasure – appreciating and observing what people wear: “I used to happily browse through magazines for hours and lose track of time pondering styles and fabrics. The other day I sat next to a woman on the train who was editing a fashion line on her laptop. I was leaning over to her so much that I nearly fell into her keyboard – how I’d love to do something like that!” Louisa used her Parachute session to make an action plan that included resuming some clothes-making, learning about Pinterest, researching courses, and meeting with people who work in the fashion industry. Here is what she had to say three months later:                                                           “I moved to a department at work that leaves me more time to pursue my other interests…I  found a Saturday job at a vintage clothes shop and am now gaining first hand experience of fashion history, fittings, shopping psychology, and sales, and it has been great…I also signed up for a tailoring course in London and am part way through… I am really enjoying the detail and precision of pattern making, it’s like architecture and my 10 minutes of practice a day turns into 30 minutes, or often hours! I also completed a canoeing course over the summer, like a ‘fire-walk’ experience, to access my belief that I can learn anything with determination…I think my desire to pick courses as they suit me is in preparation for running my own business.”

Researching and following what we truly enjoy can be incredibly powerful. As soon as we take a decisive step in our chosen direction, new contacts, expansive ideas and hitherto unimagined resources often come our way.

I met up with Stella (56) two months after she attended a Parachute talk. She said that the following sentence from the presentation helped her change her life: “In order to change career one does not have to go back to school”.  A team manager with over 20 years experience in a well-known prison, Stella had not dared dream of a career change, especially not ‘at her age’. And yet, there she was sitting opposite me, smiling over cup of tea after the first month in her new job as a beauty consultant. How did she do it? Soon after the Parachute talk, she walked into her favourite beauty outlet in town taking all her courage and enthusiasm with her. She asked for a meeting with the manger and conveyed her life-long fascination with cosmetics and skin care products, as well as her deep desire to make people feel beautiful. Two weeks later she was invited for interview and offered a job on the spot. I’m used to some good news in my line of work, but changing career within two months is a record by any standards! I felt both moved and honoured to witness this feat. Stella proceeded to tell me about her recent interactions with customers, e.g. how a mother brought her teenage daughter along who was upset and embarrassed by her skin problems. She offered the young woman a full make-over, and at the end both mother and daughter had tears in their eyes at the extent of her transformation. “I knew then that I’d make the right choice.” 

The single most useful stance to take during the Parachute exploration is ‘allowing everything’. So, you think ‘travelling’ is not a skill because it’s too much fun and nobody pays you for it? Think again. Some people out there get paid for travelling as we speak. Put it on your list. Please. When we adopt an attitude of allowing, important information about ourselves arises like the soft flow of water meandering around rocks, e.g. our true values, the skills we really love, the people we actually want to work with, and so on. There is an abundance of jobs and job creation options awaiting us, once we know what we are looking for.

So, what are you really looking for? Bentinho Massaro reminds us that genuine excitement is the signal to go with. Excitement and enjoyment is a direct message from our ‘Higher Self’ to go in precisely the direction we feel excited about. Not excitement in the sense of fulfilling a passing fancy or an egotistical need, but fearlessly following what truly resonates within. That way, we not only serve ourselves but we inspire everyone  around us to create a meaningful life. So, what excites  you, what resonates so deeply that it will probably keep knocking on your door until you do something about it?                              After all, “this is your life you’re working on, your LIFE. Make it glorious.”                                                (Richard Bolles, Job-Hunter’s Workbook 2012, p.76).


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What is Success?

A strange outdoor exhibit recently caught my eye in Germany. A multi-coloured ladder standing isolated in space – serving no obvious purpose and poignantly leading nowhere. The inscription read:

“Career ladder – nobody has ever seen one before. Pay particular attention to the top rung”.

This exhibit illustrates with stunning accuracy what many clients tell me: over many years they climbed enticing rungs towards real or imagined peaks, their eye firmly fixed on the next promotion, the next bonus, and yet…the initially pleasing rewards often left an aftertaste of emptiness. Whether they reached the desired goal, or met with redundancy – the ‘what next’ eventually paid them a pertinent visit and demanded new answers – answers that go beyond linear progression. Others know from the outset that career ladders are not for them. Having spotted ‘the game’ and seen their friends grow in material success but not in happiness, they are still none the wiser about how to approach work or success differently.

Let me clarify: nothing is being said here against career progression, making a profit, or achievement per se – so long as your version of success truly fulfils you and perhaps even serves the world around you. What concerns me is that the most widely accepted model of success follows the Oxford dictionary whereby success is the “attainment of fame, wealth or social status.” What concerns me even more is that this is what the media spoon-feeds us, and our children, every single day. If money or social status is the answer, how come that one in three employees world-wide cite unhappiness at work for reasons unrelated to money or status (www.forbes.com)? If fame is the answer, how come that a successful member of the X-Factor team asked me to help him change jobs last year?

So, let’s get to the bottom of the term ‘success’ and its original meaning: we have the Latin  sub (under) + cedere (to go).  Succedere is “going beneath.” The Latin succeeder also means “following after” (www.edenics.net). Notice something? There is no mention of “going up” in a linear fashion. The emphasis is on going beneath, or going beyond. Sanskrit, perhaps the oldest language preceding Latin, helps to enrich this concept further: there are more than seven (yes, seven) Sanskrit words for success, and all of them allude to a spiritual principle. The term siddhi, for example, denotes ‘success’ or ‘achievement’ in relationship to attaining supernatural ability through spiritual practice. Equally useful for our purposes today is the term dhanyata which refers to ‘success’ intertwined with ‘fulfilment’. What I like about these terms is that they offer us a choice on how we like to interpret success for ourselves. Furthermore, they can set us free from the idea that success has to be visible and measurable.

Personally, I enjoy the word ‘fulfilment’. I have observed that fulfilment enters people’s working lives when there is a close fit between what they do and their personal values, and when they consciously align their definition of success with those values. My recent conversation with a friend throws some light on this. His formula of ‘high turnout or numbers equal success’ led him to perceive his life as not being successful when his movement classes attracted few participants. In my 14 years of knowing this friend it would not have occurred to me to doubt his success. So, I reminded him of the times when his smaller classes allowed him to ‘move mountains’ with individuals, the far-reaching effects of which may not ever become known to him. I also commented on his uncanny ability to connect with strangers, to sustain friendships through difficult times, and his evident joy at building a loving relationship with his partner and child. Our conversation revealed that he was judging his success by an old value system that prioritised ‘quantity’ when his actual values were quality, connection, and intimacy. It was as if ‘pressing the update button’ on his definition of success helped him feel differently about his situation. Interestingly, he then also received two new bookings the next day. The way I view my friend’s success is expressed beautifully by R W Emerson:

“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

It is in this sense that I would like to wish you, the reader, a successful and fulfilled 2014. Wherever you are in the world, if you would like help with identifying your values so they can serve your working life, you are always welcome at http://www.realvocation.com

“Career ladder – nobody has ever seen one”.

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Real Vocation and Yoga goes Live

Finally – after years of exploring words, colours and ‘the Calling’ knocking on my door – the RealVocation website is released. The message it carries is timeless, and I feel privileged to be able to share it. It has always made me happy to witness people find their unique path, project or Vocation (the Sanskrit ‘Vac’ and the Latin ‘vocare’/’inner voice’ being at the root of this word). Particularly today, my gratitude goes out to my mother who let me explore life and trusted that I would always land on my feet. This gift I would like to pass on to others – through Vocational consultations, workshops, and Yoga. I would also like to thank my friends, and my teachers: Richard Bolles, and Bhagavan Shan, are two of the most important amongst them. Enjoy the website, and do get in touch: www.realvocation.com.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

– Mark Twain.

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