All Posts by Felicity Dwyer

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About the Author

Felicity is a career coach. She help people who want to change career, start a freelance business, or build their confidence. Felicity writes about career and business development, leadership and personal effectiveness.

Apr 17

Can you afford to change career?

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , freelance

If you’re thinking of making a major career change, chances are you’re considering the impact on your finances. This was certainly the case for me when I decided to work for myself back in 2003.

I’m not a financial risk taker. But this didn’t stop me from making the calculated decision to take the plunge and start my own business, at a certain point in my life.

The reality is that a career change may result in a financial hit in the short term, although this is not inevitable. And there is evidence that people are more successful when they do a job that plays to their strengths. So if you’re not in the right role or field of work, making a change may increase your long-term earning potential. Or you may think a lower income is a price worth paying to work in a sector that feels more worthwhile, or a role that offers you more freedom.

I believe there are two key questions you need to ask yourself. The first one is more focused on the short term, the second on the longer term.

Q1. What do I need to earn?

This is really about clarifying the minimum income you need to pay for essentials. If your career change involves re-training, or starting again at a lower level in a new field or industry, then you may need to accept a temporary drop in income. If you are not as clear as you could be on your current financial situation, take time to audit all your monthly and annual expenditure.

This process is likely to uncover areas where you could cut your costs. For example are you paying too much for household expenses? And if you stopped commuting, how would this affect your outgoings?

For help with assessing and reviewing your budgets, it’s worth looking at the Moneysavingexpert.com website.  A good starting point is the Do a Money Makeover page which includes links to a downloadable budget planner and lots of advice on reducing your expenditure. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/money-help#personal

Q2. What do I want to earn?

This is a question as it’s about your future ambitions and lifestyle.

I’m actually a believer in the maxim “do what you love and the money will follow”, as long as you temper this with a pinch of realism. If you love your job you are more likely to be good at it, and to progress up the career ladder, and the same goes for running a business. But if a certain level of income is important to you, then this will affect your career choices. Starting your own business or company can offer a high degree of freedom, and the potential to generate wealth, if you can come up with a commercially viable idea and are prepared to do the work and take the risk. But the reality is the majority of small enterprises bring in a more modest income. Many people are happy if they can establish a sustainable lifestyle business.

Taking a leapWe all have different attitudes to risk. Speaking personally, I stayed in employment longer that I might have done because I wanted to achieve a certain level of financial stability before working for myself. This was the right decision for me, especially as I was single at time so had no-one to fall back on. But others might have chosen to take the leap sooner.

When you start on the process of thinking about your longer-term financial goals and security, it’s worth getting some advice from a qualified independent financial adviser. A good adviser will listen to what is important to you and make recommendations accordingly. The moneysavingexpert website outlines things to consider before seeking advice.

And if you would like some help with thinking through a career change decision, consider working with a career coach. Taking some time to reflect on your choices can help you work out what is right for you. It can allow you a confidential space to “try out” your ideas for different career choices in a neutral, non-judgemental environment.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Dream job
Mar 28

Is finding your dream job realistic?

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Career development , Motivation

Is there a job that you would love to do? Or a business you would love to start? But you don’t yet have the experience, and are not even sure if achieving your dream job is realistic.

Let’s face it, most employers are risk averse. They want to be certain that you are up to the job. And the easiest way for them to be sure, is to hire some who has actually done it before.

Even if you dream of running your own business, you will soon run up against reality. If you don’t offer a product or service people want AND find a way to tell them about it through your marketing, then you don’t have a business.

So how do you bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be?

3 steps to bridge the gap

There is a 3 step process that can help you navigate through change.

A. Have a vision of where you want to go.

B. Get crystal clear about the reality of where are you right now.

C. Work out the steps needed to get from A to B and turn these into an actionable plan

Start with a big dream

I’m a big fan of realism when it comes to reviewing your career options, but only at the right point. The right point is after you have identified your absolute ideal job. So start off by dreaming big!

What do you love doing so much you would do it for nothing? What difference do you want to make in the world through your work? What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?

Then get real

But after forming the big dream you must ask some reality-checking questions about it. Do you know exactly what this work involves on a day to day basis? Try and speak with people who are actually doing this type of work to get a sense of what is truly involved.

A reality check of your perfect job or business may throw up compromises and barriers. For example more status and money may mean working longer hours. You may need to gain new qualifications or experience. Your may need to make sacrifices to reach a higher level.  Is this what you really want?  Or you might identify fears of not being good enough – can I really make it? Isn’t it safer just to dream?

Or it might reveal that even if there is a long way to go and sacrifices to make along the way, you are absolutely committed and willing to do what it takes.

The reality check means you are starting to turn your dream from what may be pure fantasy into a vision of something you might actually end up doing. You may find yourself making changes to your original dream job at this point. To start with a big ambition and adjust it after a reality check is far more powerful than to limit your thinking initially with too much “realism”.

Make it happen

Once you’ve identified a job, career or business idea that resonates and feels right, then you can start to work out how to make it happen.

And this is where it’s important to come back to the present and focus in detail on where you are now. This includes digging down into all your strengths and transferable skills. And be honest and specific about any gaps between where you are now and where you want to be.

Then you can start to formulate an actionable plan.  If there’s a big gap between what you want and you can’t see the end point, then set a mid point. Identify something that would give you a lot of what you want and then work towards that.

The truth is that successful career change can involve a fair amount of good fortune and serendipity as well as careful planning. But the great thing about planning is that it is within your control and something that you can do NOW to take you a step closer to achieving your dreams.

Like some help?

A career coach can help speed up the process of career change. Contact me now for your FREE 30 minute career consultation. REQUEST YOUR CONSULTATION HERE.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Career Options
Jan 24

How to make great career choices

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change

At this time of year, we tend to focus on our goals and future direction. We may feel motivated to make choices about where to go next in our careers and working lives.

Do you want to stay with your existing company or look for another employer? Is it time for a complete change of career, or to make the leap into self-employment?

Maybe you want to downshift to experience the lifestyle you really want, or aim for a promotion with more responsibility and financial rewards.

When you can’t make a decision

The range of choices available to us means that we can get stuck between different options. Sometimes we don’t know what would be the best step and it is easier not to make a change at all.

If you find yourself in this position, there are various methods that you can use to help you make great career choices. Here are some approaches that I have used successfully at various times in my life.

Advantages and Drawbacks

This is where you write down the pros and cons of each choice. This is simple but can be very effective. A good method is is to set up a page with three columns headed Advantages/Drawbacks/Interesting. Then brainstorm every aspect of your choice. The interesting column allows you to capture thoughts that arise during your brainstorm that are not either a pro or a con.

Do this for each of your choices, and see if clarity emerges as you look at your lists. It is important to write everything down in this exercise, as this gets the thoughts out of your head and onto paper, where you can assess them more rationally. Sometimes a small risk can feel out of proportion when it’s just a worry whirling around your head.

Weighing up choices

The second method is more intuitive, but can be effective when you are deciding between two options. Sit down and get relaxed. Hold your hands out in front of you, palms up and imagine that you are holding one choice in each hand.

Smiling Woman with Palms Up

Feel you choices as if there are things that you are weighing them up, one in each hand. Does one choice feel heavier and the other choice lighter? This can be a way of tapping into your intuition and generally the lighter choice is better.

Another way of tapping into your intuition is to ask yourself a question about the choice just before you go to sleep. Trust that your subconscious will work on the answer while you sleep, and the answer will be clear to you when you awaken.

Possible futures

This is a great method if you are someone who finds it easy to visualise. In this method you mentally project yourself into the future, and imagine how it would feel to inhabit two or more possible futures.

This exercise works well if you stand in a room or outside someone quiet, and imagine your future self standing several paces in front of where you are now. For each choice, see your future self in a different spot in front of you.

Then taking each option in turn, walk to the spot you have imagined for your future self and look back at yourself. What is your life like now? What does it feel like to have taken this option? Then walk back to your present self and take some notes.

Choosing a career path

Have a bit of a shake out, and then repeat the exercise by walk to the other future you, and imagine what that would be like. Make the picture as vivid as you can. Then walk back to the present and make notes.

Committing to a decision

Once you have a made a choice, then it is much more likely to be successful for you if you commit fully to it. I love the late Susan Jeffers’ “no lose decision making” model from her book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. Jeffers explains how we waste valuable energy in fearing that we’ve made the “wrong decision.” Instead of spending time thinking about how other options for our lives could have worked out, we can instead see each choice as a positive path towards “goodies” in our lives and always be focusing forwards. This doesn’t mean that we don’t continually review, adapt and adjust our path in life and work. But’s so much more productive to make a clear decision and then stay focused on moving forward, rather than pondering on what might have been.

What choices will you make this year about your life?

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Woman with cluttered brain
Nov 30

Clear mental clutter to gain career clarity

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Career development , Creativity , Motivation

Many of us tackle some clutter clearing from time to time, and often this is about getting rid of unwanted physical “stuff”.

But what about mental clutter? This could include outdated assumptions or ideas that could that be getting in the way of making beneficial changes or stepping up a level in our career or business.

I’ve just been inspired to do a late autumn clutter clear in my office. Getting rid of redundant papers, sorting out my files and disposing of some old boxes (including baby slings last used in 2009!).

Clearing outdated physical clutter set me thinking about the internal clutter we also hang onto for too long. Are any of these things clogging up your mental shelf space?

Redundant qualifications

It can be hard to let go of hard-won qualifications. If you took a law degree for example, does that mean you always need to work in the legal field? Of course not, but sometimes it’s hard to let go of a past achievement in order to follow a career path that is right for us now.

Self-judgements

It’s so tempting to judge ourselves against our peers or even some external imagined standards. We may metaphorically beat ourselves up for not reaching a certain level in our career by a certain age. Or compare ourselves against other people. But everyone’s life path is different, and some of the most interesting and accomplished people didn’t find their vocation until quite late. The bestselling writer Mary Wesley published her first adult novel at the age of 71.

Too many ideas

Ideas flowing Making a clear decision about a career, or a business niche, can be scary, because it means letting go of all the other ideas of things we “could” do. It means closing down possibilities, at least for now. In career or business planning, there is a time for generating lots of ideas and possibilities, and this can be valuable. But to make things happen you have to take action. And to take action means making a decision. And making a positive decision to follow one path means letting go of another direction, at least for a while.

I say for a while, because it is perfectly possible to build a successful portfolio career with different strands and income streams. But there is a danger in trying to do everything all at once, and power in making a decision and staying focused on one thing for a while, to give it a chance.

Perfectionism

Perfectionism can hold you back. Trying something new involves risk, whether that’s going for a promotion or starting a business. You will make mistakes, and that can be painful. If perfectionism is one of your traits, take some time to work out what it’s costing you. Wanting to do a great job, and putting in the graft is well worth it. But expecting perfect results when you do something for the fist time can set yourself up for disappointment and a sense of failure.

In his book The Chimp Paradox, Dr Steve Peters suggests that if you set your bar for success as “doing your best”, then this is always achievable. You may not do something brilliantly first time, but you can always gain satisfaction if you know that you gave it your best shot and did the best you could at the time.

Outdated dreams and visions

Creating a vision of where you want to go to in business or life is valuable and important. It can give you a sense of direction, a compass to navigate the choices and opportunities that come your way. But we change and what matters to us can change. If you made a decision some time ago to follow a certain direction, it may be time to check in and make some adjustments. And be mindful of differentiating between a setback along the way, and a true change of heart.

Find a listening ear

If your mind feels cluttered with ideas, concerns or judgements, then it can be invaluable to speak to someone. A chat with a friend can help clear the mental cobwebs. And do think seriously about working with a coach too. A few sessions with a good coach can help to shift outdated thinking, and clear space for fresh new ideas to come in.

And if you would like some help, email me to request a free telephone consultation.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Book
Oct 19

How to turn your career vision into reality

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Motivation , Small Business

A first step in making a career change is to work out where you want to get to.  This is true whether you want to land your dream job, or want to start or grow your own business. But this may not be enough, on it’s own.

Create a vision of your future

Creating a vision is an important step towards your ideal future. It’s worth taking time to work out what you really really want. Sometimes that clarity can be enough to set you on the path to success.

But sometimes, identifying an ambitious goal can spark a sense of overwhelm. The gap between where you want to be and where you are now seems huge. How will you bridge the chasm?

Assess your current reality

The answer is to start with an objective assessment of where you are now. A vision of a desired future is an important element to achieving goals and can provide the pull to get you going. But it’s not enough on its own. You have to find the motivation to take action.

In her book “Rethinking Positive Thinking”, psychologist Garbriele Oettingen shares her research that indicates positive visualisation on it’s own can actually reduce your chances of success. You may feel so psychologically buoyed up by your happy thoughts that you lack the sense of urgency or internal motivation needed to actually do the work needed.

She suggests that once you have identified your end goal, you then actually face up to and imagine the reality of the obstacles or the internal stuggle that you will face along the way. Research shows that “mental contrasting” between your goal and the current situations will make it more likely that you will achieve what you want.

Creative tension leads to action

In “The Path of Least Resistance”, Robert Fritz differentiates between people who just dream about or imagine their desired future, and the creators who take action to turn their vision into reality. The gap between the vision of your dream job and the reality of what you have now provides the structural tension needed to take action.

Writing a bookSo you need to be clear about where you are now, and what are the steps you need to take right now to move towards your goal. It doesn’t matter how small your first step is – the important thing is that you take it. And you need to be aware of what might get in the way, for example fear of rejection or the distractions of social media. Then make a plan for how you will move past this obstacle if it comes up. And then you take action. And then you take a next step. Build in some time for reflection, learning and planning after each step.

For example, if you want to write a book, it’s one thing to imagine your successful book launch, and all the wonderful ideas that you will be sharing. But you also need to consider what might get in the way of you sitting down day after day to get your words on paper. And then identify some specific strategies to help you overcome the resistance, moments of self-doubt and procrastination that hit almost every successful author along the way

Small steps up a mountain

Climbing a mountainAnother example, if you’re considering self-employment after 30 years in corporate life, there may seem as though there’s a mountain to climb in terms of learning. But there are plenty of people who were in this position a few years ago. So a small step could just be to have a conversation with one or two of them.

You could book into a small business networking meeting, chat to a few people and find out what they do. Or if you feel nervous at the thought, overcome this by taking an even smaller step. You could contact the leader of a local networking group leader for a chat. They will soon let you know if pre-start ups are welcome at their events, and how to make the most of your visit.

Look back and celebrate

A final thought. It can be helpful to look back on goals you have achieved, and celebrate the steps you took that led you to where you are now. Remind yourself that goals are great, but action is awesome. You can do this!

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Planning a holiday - job search
Aug 01

How planning a holiday can help your job search

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , freelance

I’m writing this during the summer holiday season, and wondering what the experience of planning a holiday can teach you about searching for a new job or career?

Know yourself

Choosing the right holiday requires a realistic understanding of what you need and want. A lively resort, or a hike in the hills? Would relaxing on a cruise ship be your idea of heaven, or would you be ready to jump overboard after 24 hours?

Similarly, we all feel happier in different workplaces. For example, an exciting fast paced career or a professional field such as law might seem aspirational, but you might in reality be happier in a hands-on caring role. Or you may believe in the ethos of public service, but in reality feel frustrated and feel hemmed in the bureaucracy of local government, yet find you thrive in a start up.

The key to happiness at work is to identify what really matters to you, not what you or others think you SHOULD want.

Accept your life stage

Seaside holidayThere may have been a time when you yearned for adventure, but now you’re better off with the kids on a sandy shore with a bucket and space.

A demanding job that suited you in your 20s may not be such a good fit now. Sometimes family or caring commitments require a re-evaluation of your career ambitions.  And you can do this in a way that sets you up to re-build your career later on. A typical working lifetime is around 45 years. Rather than try to do everything it once, it’s fine to scale back and step up at different life stages.

Research for job search

Chances are that you do a fair amount of research before choosing a holiday. Perhaps you look at options online, read reviews, talk to friends, ask for recommendations… Sometimes it might seem that we do more research for a holiday than for choosing a career!

A serious job or career search requires plenty of research. Google is a good starting point, but don’t underestimate the value of talking to people. And don’t just rely on people in your social circle – reach out to people in fields that attract you. Ask for introductions, see if people will be willing to give you some advice. Find out what your dream job is really like.

Use imagination

Beach sceneWhen you’re looking at holiday options, you may find yourself imagining what it will be like. You see yourself getting up to breakfast on the terrace, going for a daily swim, relaxing over supper in a taverna…

When you’re thinking about career change, try imagining yourself in a series of different jobs or fields of work. What will your daily routine look like: what will you be doing, who will you be seeing, how will you be feeling

Consider the positive aspects, and also make sure your vision isn’t too rose tinted. It’s important that you include elements such as your daily commute. See yourself doing the duller parts of each role as well as the more interesting aspects. Do the positives outweigh the downsides?

Package or go-it-alone?

Do you prefer to book a package holiday – letting someone else sort out the practicalities and logistics? Or do you prefer to arrange your own holiday, booking the travel, accommodation and any transfers yourself?

In career terms, employment is more like a package deal. Your employer supplies the job description, the parameters of the role and usually the accommodation, such as an office or workshop. You provide your skills and energy in exchange for a salary and benefits.

This contrasts with self employment, which can be more like a go-it-along trip. You have more freedom to create your own freelance career or establish a business. But there is a lot more for you to organise, before you even start work. You need to ensure there is a market for your services or products, and be willing to get involved in marketing, selling and managing your enterprise.

Ask an expert

Many of us arrange our holidays online, which is analogous to using job boards or looking at job ads. But sometimes it’s easier and more effective to book via a travel agent. A good agent will listen to your requirements and recommend suitable holidays using their specialist knowledge.

Similarly, if you know the type of work you are seeking, a good recruitment consultant can help match you to a job or company where you are well suited.

And if you’re not yet sure what kind of job you want to go for, a career coach can help you work this out, with impartial expert support.

Wishing you happy holidays!

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Wise Owl
May 15

Use your time wisely with these productivity tips

By Felicity Dwyer | Productivity , Small Business

WorkWise week is an initiative to encourage us to think about ways to work more productively. Whether you work for yourself or are employed, here are some tips to help you work more wisely.

Clarify what really matters

The foundation of working wisely is to be crystal clear about what’s really important. If you’re freelance or run your own business, make sure you take time out on a weekly basis to review your priorities.

If you are employed and feel continually overwhelmed, you may need to sit down with your managers, and make sure you understand what you are expected to prioritise and deliver. If you’re not clear about what’s expected of you, then ask rather than making assumptions about what’s wanted.

Overcome procrastination with radical chunking

Even if you know what’s important, you may find yourself procrastinating. We all do it, and my solution is radical chunking. If you find yourself resisting writing an important email for example, then chunk it down to the simplest possible action, such as opening a new email window, writing a subject line (even if it’s just DRAFT EMAIL TO…) and typing the first few words.

Challenge your processes

If you’ve ever worked with a coach, you know they will encourage you, and also challenge you. You can self-coach by taking a step back from time to time and challenging yourself. Ask: “How can I do this more efficiently?” and write down at least three ideas for improvements.

This is helpful if you regularly find yourself bogged down in a task. Taking time to redesign a system can be more effective in the longer term than making do with an outdated way of doing things.

Make wise use of tech tools

Technology is a double edge sword. It can distract, or assist. Set boundaries around unproductive time online, and welcome in helpful tech. A To Do list app like Wunderlist or project management systems like Asana can help bring all your tasks together in one place and access on the go. But tools will only help you if you use them consistently and refer to them regularly. A half hearted switch to an online system will just add to the clutter in your life.

Embrace online accounting

online accounting

If you’re self-employed or run a small business, make this the year you embrace online accounting software. This can massively speed up time you spend on invoicing and reconciling accounts. For example, you can quickly scan in receipts when you receive them and before they mount up.

The UK government has considered making changes to self-assessment reporting. It’s not happening in the short term, but in future they may require small businesses to do their accounting online.

Email discipline for a clear inbox

If looking at your email inbox gives you that sinking feeling, then it’s time to set yourself some guidelines. Discipline yourself not to open an email unless you do something with it. I regularly reach inbox zero since developing an email processing system that works for me – once I’ve read an email it’s either filed, acted upon, deleted or marked for future action.

And on the subject of wise email etiquette, if you find yourself writing something while you’re feeling irritated, under pressure or angry, then don’t send straight away. Save it as a draft, then take a break, return to it to review and re-phrase if necessary. And double-check the “to” field. (Hands up who’s ever written an email to a colleague and inadvertently sent it to a client!)

Set yourself deadlines

We’re usually pretty efficient when we’re up against the clock. But leaving everything to the last minute can be stressful and leaves no room for contingencies. Trying setting your own deadlines, and challenge yourself against the clock. The end of the week can be a good deadline – how much can you clear before the weekend? And how good will it feel when you’ve done it?

Know your values

Finally, wisdom comes from working to your values. It’s not just about efficient use of time; it’s about valuing time itself and freeing yourself up to do what matters. Try this values exercise to work out what really matters to you. And don’t be afraid to say “no” to requests that fit neither your work priorities, nor your personal values.

What tips do you have for working more wisely? Please share in the comments below.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Paul Coverdale
May 02

From naval officer to portfolio career

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change

Calls for flexible working practices are often in the context of women who want to balance work and family.

And I’m increasingly meeting fathers who have taken a step off the corporate ladder. They go part time or self-employed so that they can take a bigger part in bringing up their children, and pursue work that feels meaningful and interesting. Often they have a partner or spouse who is committed to their own career, and find a more balanced approach works for the family.

Here is the story of a father in this situation. Paul Coverdale is a former Naval officer who now has a portfolio of professional projects, voluntary work and active fatherhood. All these are linked to his passion for sustainability.

A linear career

Paul initially followed what he described as a linear career”. After school he took a degree in meteorology at Reading University.

Armed with his degree, Paul felt he had: “two choices as I saw it at the time.” One was at the Met office, the other was a forecasting role in the Royal Navy. Forecasting had traditionally been a teaching role within the Navy, but changes meant that this role would involve going to sea. “It sounded exciting!” So Paul joined the Navy at 22.

Paul became a naval officer and learned to be good at leadership. “I wasn’t hugely confident and they brought it out.” Paul describes his first eight years as pretty successful. “I was cherry-picked to augment naval staff at sea, and involved in the second Gulf War. It was hard work but incredibly rewarding. I was entrusted with a lot of responsibility.” Paul was promoted at an early stage and send to Iraq, where he spent 6 months in 2006 in Basra. “It gave me more confidence. Opened my eyes to the world.”

Downsides of military life

see-saw-600pxAs time went on, Paul became increasingly aware of the downsides to not being at home. He wasn’t able to put down roots: “I bought a flat which I never saw.” And it was difficult to maintain relationships: “I couldn’t countenance being a father under these circumstances.”

Paul compares this to being on a see-saw. Over time, the balance tipped and Paul felt increasingly that the hierarchical nature of a military organisation was no longer a good fit. “I realised I wasn’t well suited. I became aware of becoming insitutionalised and turned into a person I wasn’t.”

Paul was pragmatic and didn’t leave in a hurry after this realisation, but he negotiated a posting at home for the last part of his service and left after 16 years. This was a natural break point, and meant that he left with a pension.

Although not everyone will be able to gather a pension by this stage of their careers, there is much to be said for a sensible planned career change. (When I work with people who are considering a big leap, I help them think through the options, and recommend people build up a financial buffer if they can.)

Back to study

Returning to university or other forms of study can provide a transition into a new career. After leaving the Navy, Paul took at full time “Environmental Techology” MSc at Imperial College London, writing a thesis on intrinsic value in business.

“I knew I wanted to do something connected with the environment. I knew about weather and climate change. I knew that we need to do something about it.

“The degree helped me broaden myself and explore sustainability more widely. Part of me had an interest in business too, and my degree looked at what is a sustainable business. This was fantastic. I loved studying again. Enjoyed the challenge.”

Knowing what you don’t want

After his Masters, Paul faced a dilemma. At his stage of life he wouldn’t be going into a graduate scheme or internship. So he took time out to work out what he wanted to do.

Like many career changes, Paul knew what he didn’t want: to work with one company, 9-5. “I wanted to pursue lots of things and have time with my daughter. I wanted to blur work and life. “

Pursuing curiosities

So Paul decided to pursue his curiosities. He volunteered for the National Trust, starting writing, set up a website, and set about talking to people and collaborating. Initially he did this alongside apply for jobs, but then he made a decision to cease job applications and focus on setting up new projects and participating in a range of voluntary local activities, such as donating blood platelets, organising events for Parkrun, and as Secretary for the Royal British Legion.

Another priority was spending time with his daughter “we were in the garden all day Monday”. Paul’s wife works in London, and this arrangement brings benefits for the whole family.

Future Debates

Paul is full of ideas and enthusiasm, and one of his current portfolio projects is Future Debates.

The idea was sparked by Paul’s MSc studies. “My group focused on business and the environment. We would get together on Friday and choose a topic that had been covered by one of our visiting lecturers. We’d each have a go at facilitating a debate and choosing questions. It was really interesting, and part of the course that I missed the most.”

After university, the group wanted to carry on, but found the opportunities to meet limited. But a spark has been lit: “the idea of setting something up was rattling in my head. “

Paul decided to trial a debate a co-working space in London in August 2016. He went to the space to co-work, and run a series of Future Debates as an experiment in the lunch hour. The format is up to 12 people, round a table, discussing a theme such as the future of work, technology and happiness, or dealing with plastic waste.

“I did about a dozen. People loved it.! It gave people an opportunity to talk about something that matters. “ After his success in running groups in London, Paul decided to set Future Debates up in Winchester, where he now lives.

Inspiration for action

The inspiration behind Future Debates is to achieve more than a talking shop. “I’m hoping action will follow on from words. We’re looking for ways to solve problems, though small groups coming together.”

Having attended a Future Debate, I can recommend them as a way to refresh your thinking, learning something new, and clarify your ideas.

No regrets

Paul accepts that no everyone is in a financial position to take a break from earning, and points out there are lots of ways you can fund a career change or follow a passion, for example by funding a change through part time or freelance work.

“It is a big step, but not something to be frightened of. I don’t regret it at all, I’m a lot happier”.

You can find out more about Future Debates here.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Balancing work and motherhood
Mar 24

Tips for balancing work and motherhood

By Felicity Dwyer | freelance , Productivity , Small Business

 

Balancing work and motherhood (or fatherhood) is quite an art, so I approached some successful working mums for tips on how they manage. I hope you enjoy the insightful and practical advice they came up with, and please add your own tips too.

Prioritise Ruthlessly

Kara Stanford from KMS Marketing says: “Know what you absolutely must do for work and family, then do those things first. Know what are the “should do’s” and do them next. Finally, know what are the “nice to do’s” and fit them in when you can.”

Kara subdivides this into work, family and “staying sane”. Her work must do’s include paid client work as a top priority. Family must do’s are: never working when she is looking after the children. And her stay sane must do’s are having at least one day at the weekend where she does no work at all.

“When I stop ruthlessly prioritising, it all falls apart…! This week, as we are on day 15 of chickenpox, I have only been able to do my “must do’s” but once we’re through it all, I’ll be able to do everything I want to again. Until then, top priorities first!”

Don’t try to multi-task

Juggling timeBarbara Graham from jewellers Stella and Dot advises ring fencing your time – don’t fall for the multitasking myth

“We are far less efficient if we try to do more than one job at a time.  Your business and parenting will both suffer and you’ll be exhausted and stressed by the feeling you are constantly underperforming in all areas of your life.  Determine when your office work hours and when your mummy hours are.  Tell your team, tell your customers, and tell your friends and family!”

Helen Cousins, decluttering consultant at Fresh Spaces agrees: “Don’t try to multi-task. It actually stops you being present and scatters your thoughts making you less effective. If you are with you children – then ‘be with’ them. If you are working – then pick one item to prioritise and then only action that one. “

Get help when you need it

“If you need to pay for childcare to give yourself some free time – DO IT!” says Barbara. “I see a lot of women who are just starting their business and not earning huge amounts who feel they need to wait until they are earning more to justify the cost of childcare.  But how can they expect their business to grow if they aren’t giving themselves the time to work on it?  Time is the most crucial investment your business needs, so if you need it, do it, and reap the rewards in years to come.”

Be comfortable with “good enough” housework

“The world won’t stop spinning just because you didn’t empty the dishwasher’. I’ve recently learnt this one myself and so far we are all still surviving”, says Helen. And Kara agrees, her must dos when the pressure is on include “cleaning just enough so that I know we won’t get ill.”  And learning consultant Maggie Piazza emphasises that “being ‘good enough’ is good enough – both at home or at work.”

Time to recharge

WalkingDoctor Lucy Boyland emphasises how important it is to take time for yourself, and do something that is neither for work or parenting. And she counsels: “Don’t feel guilty about it! I know from my experience growing up that if you’re happy (or not) as a mother, it has a huge impact on your family.”  Membership administrator Nikki Halliwell agrees “It’s important to have some me time/time out. I really enjoy my running class.” Kara’s time out must-dos include walking every day, and seeing friends at least once a week.

Be organised

“Be very organised” is the top tip from Karen Guler, MD at Envision Financial Solutions. Nikki agrees “Being organised the night before, bags packed, lunch boxes on the side, clothes ironed…”

Find a work pattern that suits you

Nikki enjoys being self-employed: “…so I can work the hours that suit family life, and she has help from her parents who live locally. Lucy works part-time, which give her a good balance between a demanding job that she loves, and her family. And speaking recently with a group of women in technical industries, I heard examples of husbands working part-time or staying at home to care for young children.

Free up your headspace!

I love all the wise words above. A tip that has helped me to stay organised and escape the multi-tasking trap is to use a to-do list app properly, and capturing EVERYTHING I need to do in one place. From a quick phone call to a new project, it all goes in the Wunderlist app (other to-do list apps are available!)  It’s on my phone so if an idea comes into my brain when not working, I can make a quite note and forget about it. The app syncs to my desktop so I can take time to review, sort and prioritise my notes when I’m next at my desk.

This approach frees up so space in my head. We can only hold a few thoughts in our working memory (the part of our mind we have access to at any one time). So by writing things down, we can stop expending energy trying to remember them, thus freeing up energy for family and friends.

What tips do you have for balancing work and parenting? Please share in the comments below.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Women considering change career at 40
Feb 28

Is it too late to change career at 40? (or 50…?)

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , freelance

“Is it too late to change career at 40?” “Am I too old to start a new career at 50?” You may have asked yourself this kind of question. It’s one I hear quite often. And my answer is “No, it’s definitely not too late”.

There are many options open to you at 40 and beyond to change career. And often the barriers to change are internal rather than external. It helps if you focus on what you CAN offer, and regard your age as an advantage rather than a drawback.

Mid-life experience

You reach mid-life with a wealth of experience. You are have more understanding of the world. You may also have more self-knowledge than earlier in life. This doesn’t mean that career change is easy. Like anything worthwhile it may require tenacity, focus and resilience to make a shift. But this is true at any age!

What can you bring with you from your work (and life) experience into a new career? Do take the time to review your own skills, strengths and interest, and reflect on what you would really like to be doing. And take time to research the options available to you.

Here are some viable mid-life career change options.

Consultancy

Consultancy can be a good choice if you have some specific expertise and enjoy the field you are in. It can offer you more control over your working life. Your current employer may be willing to offer you some work on a freelance basis. This can help you get started. Generally you will need to find other clients too, so your employer doesn’t fall foul of employment legislation. You may like to contact other companies in your field, or sign up for consultancy opportunities on a job board like Indeed.

Sideways move to change career

If you would rather stay in employment, but want a change, consider a sideways move. You might like to take your transferable skills into a new sector. Or build on an established track record in your current sector but look at changing your job role. For example, you could take sales skills from a commercial environment and move into a fundraising role with a charity.

Start a business

Cup of coffeeHave you always wanted to run a café, run a drama club, design curtains…?  Starting your own business can offer you control over your future. It’s not for the faint hearted, and if you’ve always been employed there will be a learning curve. But it can be exhilarating and rewarding.

There are various routes you can take. For example: you can go it alone, find a business partner, or buy into an established business model through a franchise. It’s essential to undertake research in the early stages to establish if there’s actually a market for your business idea.

Portfolio career

portfolio career is where you have two or more jobs or businesses giving you strands of income. This approach can be a ongoing way of working, or it can offer a way into a career change. A part-time job in your current line of work can free up time to explore other options whilst bringing in an income.

For example you might work three days a week, and spend two days studying for a new qualification, or building up a small business on the side.

Volunteer

VolunteerVolunteering is another way to gain helpful experience, in return for your time. This can fit in with a portfolio career approach, a sideways move or even a complete change. By giving your time on a trustee board you could get experience of leadership and governance. By running workshops for young people, you could gain experience and find out if you would like to work in this field. Voluntary work can also help grow your network and build confidence. Find volunteer opportunities on Do-It.org

Retrain

There have never been more opportunities to retrain, without having to go back to full-time study. Apprenticeships are being given a particular push by government at the moment, and they are not just for the young. And there are job shortages in certain sectors such as nursing which means that age isn’t a barrier to finding a job after retraining.

Thinking about a career change? Please get in touch if you’d like some help with clarifying your next steps.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

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