Category Archives for "Motivation"

Woman with cluttered brain
Jan 23

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 This could include outdated assumptions or ideas that could that be getting in the way of making beneficial changes or stepping up a level in your career or business.

I’ve recently carried out a clutter clear before moving into a new home office space. 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Clearing outdated physical clutter set me thinking about the internal clutter we also hang onto for too long.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 difficult 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.


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 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.

Do more of what makes you happy
Sep 12

What does success mean to YOU?

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Career development , Motivation

What does success mean to you?

I often explore this question with people who are contemplating career change.

It’s important to distinguish between what really matters to you, and what society tells us is important.  But it’s not always easy to differentiate between our own definition of success, and that of others, such as family or wider society.

Success and status

We’ve evolved to be social animals and status is an important motivator for many people. At times in human history, failure or a loss of status in society could be a matter of life and death. And it can feel like that sometimes. Especially if we pin too much of our identity and self-worth to the concept of success and status.

Yes, externally validated success can give you a sense of power and self worth. You may enjoy recognition and respect from others. But what if it’s far more important to feel successful in your own estimation?

What do you value?

One key to being able to work out what really matters to you is thinking about your values. What do you truly value? What’s important to you?

For example, I’ve worked with clients who were successful in career terms. But they were unhappy about not having enough time and energy for their family.  If you feel you’re not being able to live out your values, then it may be time to re-evaluate your priorities.

When it comes to feeling a sense of power or empowerment, this can be an inside job. You can shift your mindset, and choose not to see yourself as powerless or a failure. This is true, even if your career isn’t yet where you’d like it to be. Choose to empower yourself.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

When it comes to respect, choosing to respect yourself and others, makes you less dependent on others people’s validation. And you are more likely to see that respect echoed back to you in the way people treat you.

Money and success

Financial success may be partly linked to status. It’s not just about status, of course. It’s miserable and stressful to not have enough money. And it’s vital to think clearly about your financial situation. Work out how much income you need to live a comfortable life, and to invest for the future. However if you want money in order to give you status or to feel successful, this can be a trap. How often have you seen people caught on a treadmill of having to earn even more money, to buy more things, to display more status.

So it’s helpful to take a step back and ask yourself: how much money do you actually need to be happy and feel financially secure?

This may mean increasing your income. Or it may mean cutting expenditure. The FIRE movement, for example, practices a radical reduction in spending, so that you can save enough money to give you freedom. FIRE stands for: financial independence retire early, and there are plenty of blogs online with advice on this.

Pride in achievement

None of this is intended to take away from justified pride in your achievements and celebrating success.  Instead, it’s about being clear abut what you truly want to aim for in your life and work.

For me success at work is about enjoying what I do. It’s about feeling I’m learning and growing as a person. It’s knowing that my work has a positive effect on others.

And it’s also about allowing myself plenty of time to rest, to read and to dance (my personal passion). By allowing time for relaxation, I replenish my energy for work. This enables me to show up with enthusiasm and energy, and do the best job I can.

What does success mean to you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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.

Unhappy at work
May 01

How to make a career decision when you’re unhappy at work

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Career development , Motivation

If you feel unhappy at work, it may be a sign that it’s time to move on. But feeling unhappy at work can make it difficult to assess your best next steps. You may feel more driven by moving away from your current situation than by what comes next. You may not yet have a clear vision of where you want to go.

So before you make a move, it’s worth asking yourself what you really want. Is it a new career in a different field of work, or a similar job, but in a different company or sector?

What is the cause of your unhappiness?

Allow yourself some time to consider the root cause of your dissatisfaction. It may be that you don’t feel at home in your organisation; perhaps the company culture or purpose of the business doesn’t feel like a good fit.

Or it may be about the way you’re being managed – a common reason for unhappiness. This tends to happen when you’re either micro managed or not given enough support and direction. Either situation can lead to you to doubt yourself; it can knock your confidence and sense of self.  You may find that you would thrive in a similar role under a different manager.

Signs that you might be in the wrong job are when the elements making you unhappy are more about the culture, environment or management than the work itself.  Do you feel that you’re not getting enough positive feedback?  Are you not allowed to get on with tasks that you are perfectly capable of doing? Do you find you have little in common with your colleagues?

It’s also worth thinking back to what attracted you to your job in the first place.  What were you hoping for, were the job to have worked out?

Are you on the wrong career path?

Signs that you are on the wrong career path might include a lack of enthusiasm for learning more about your field of work.  The skills you enjoy using may not be a good fit for the job, and you may not be playing to your talents and strengths. You might feel a lack of satisfaction. You might not want to tell people what you do for a living.

Or it may be that the career you’ve chosen doesn’t fit with your other priorities. For example if you value family time and weekends with your children, you might need to rule out a career that always involves weekend working.

Recognise what makes a good fit

Ultimately finding the right job or career involves a range of factors. It’s partly about recognising your strengths, and being honest about your weaker areas. And it’s also about tapping into what interests you. Do you want to learn and progress in your current field, or do your interests lie elsewhere? What will give you a sense of purpose at work?

And it’s recognising the type of company culture that would be a good fit. Do you like a structured environment, or a more relaxed flexible ethos?  Do you enjoy a team environment, or is it more important to you to have autonomy in your work, and perhaps the opportunity to do some work from home? Do you like to be office or site based, or to be out in the field?

Some lucky people have known what they want to do from an early age. But for most of us, finding the right career involves a certain amount of trial and error.

And sometimes the only way we can gain an understanding of what we want, is to have an experience of what doesn’t work for us.  Accepting that you’re in the wrong job or career can be positive step, if you then use this knowledge to reflect on what you’re really suited to.

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.

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.

What's Important to you?
Jan 04

Setting goals? Try this first…

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Motivation

At this time of year it’s common to set goals for the year ahead.

But what if you start by thinking about your values. How you can make 2017 a year when you live your values more deeply?

I’m not suggesting that you don’t set goals. Goals are important to help you get things done. They can also help you to stay motivated. But if you start by identifying your values, this will help you set goals that really matter to you.

And committing to living your values more profoundly will have an impact on HOW you go about achieving your goals, and on your quality of life and relationships. And it can help bring a greater sense of meaning and purpose into your life.

What are values?

ValuesThey are what’s important to you at a deep level. A value is a quality, or way of being. Whereas a goal is something you do or achieve. For example, a goal may be finding a life partner, whereas the underpinning value may be for love or connection or security.

Identifying your values can help you set goals that are worthwhile for you. They help you focus on what is important to you, not what others may think important. They can help give your life meaning and purpose

For example. you might set a goal to find a higher paying job. But if you start with values, then you might realise that you value time with your family more than anything else. You want to earn more so you can provide a better standard of living and more holidays for your family. This doesn’t preclude earning more, but not if it is going to mean less time at home. This understanding can then influence the goals you set for your job search.

How to identify your values?

Here are three ideas:

  1. Ask yourself what is really matters to you, and then look for the underlying values. For example you may feel at your most happy and fulfilled when you are stretching yourself and learning something new. It may be that the underlying value here is love of learning, or personal growth. If so, how can you bring more of this into your everyday life, and future plans?
  2. Conversely, if there is something in your life that makes you unhappy or angry, this could point to a violation of a value. If you feel angry that you are not being paid or treated fairly at work, this could point to an underlying value of justice, equity or fairness. Identifying this can help you in finding work that is more in line with what matters to you. And right now you can make sure you are fair in your dealings with others.
  3. A third approach can be to use a list of values as a prompt. Try this 3 part exercise to help you to identify and prioritise your values, and set relevant actions and goals as a result.

Ideally, your job or career will be a good fit for your values. The culture of your organisation or company will feel right. And your work pattern and remuneration allows you to fulfil what’s important outside of work.

If you feel that your current job is significantly out of sync with your values, it may be time to make a change.

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.


Comfort zone
Aug 18

How to expand your confidence (this one comes with a guarantee!)

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Motivation

How often does a lack of confidence hold you back?

You may be familiar with the concept of a comfort zone. It’s that place where you already feel confident.  You know exactly what you’re doing. You’re good at stuff. You don’t need to worry about messing up.

But if you only ever live from that place, you will find yourself stuck quite quickly. The world around us moves on and changes regardless of how confident we feel about adapting to it. But if you can step out of your current comfort zone, it will expand and so will your confidence.

The Stretch Zone

So a very useful concept is that of the Stretch Zone. This is the area around the outside our comfort zone, where we do something that we haven’t done before. We stretch ourselves by trying out a new skill or technique, going to a new place, applying for a new job, meeting new people, putting ourselves out there in the world in many different ways.

And it can be a bit scary – understandably so. When we try something new we are not guaranteed to make a success of it. We may try something new and love it. We may try something new and find it uncomfortable.

However, one thing we are guaranteed in the stretch zone is learning. It may be learning a new skill. It may be learning something about ourselves – what we like or don’t like. It may be learning something about other people and how we relate to them.

And if you look at taking a stretch in that way, then you really cannot fail!

Action is the key

An important thing to remember about moving into the stretch zone is just that – it’s a stretch, it involves movement. The only reliable way to build our confidence is to take action. There are plenty of useful techniques and exercises that can help us feel more confident. But at the end of the day you won’t grow your comfort zone until you get out and DO something.

Confidence comes from action – and the right level of action. Beyond the stretch zone lies the panic zone – this is where you have gone too far out of your zone of competence and confidence and your “fight or flight” mechanism kicks in. So if you are facing a big challenge, break it down to small steps, including a step you can do this week – or better still, today!

I took a step out of my comfort zone this week and started recording and sharing videos on Facebook. Here is a quick video that I’ve made for you about how I did it.

What do you want to change image
Dec 28

The small secret to making a big change

By Felicity Dwyer | Motivation , Productivity

Have you ever set a goal or resolved to make positive change in your life, and then found it hard to keep up. Here is a simple idea which can help.

Take small consistent action

Don’t underestimate the value of small actions, repeated daily. In his book, The Slight Edge, author Jeff Olson makes this point very clearly. Just as compound interest can turn modest savings into a sizeable pot over time, the compounding principle works in all aspects of our lives.

An easy way to get fitter

An easy to understand example is in the area of keeping fit. It’s common to go into a new year with ambitious plans to exercise. Gyms make a fortune out of memberships taken out in a flurry of good intentions.

But an easier way to get fit is just to add in a brisk 20 minute walk to your daily routine. After a day, or a week, this won’t make a huge difference. But if we do it every day over the course of a year, that will add up to over 120 hours of exercise and will have a noticeable impact on your fitness level.

So why don’t we all do it? As Olson points out, these small changes are easy to do, but just as easy not to do. We need to make an effort to start with, but as we go along it becomes easier as we build new habits. The secret is to keep it going, day after day.

Start your working day with a planning habit

And of course this applies to work as well. Can you make a habit of taking five minutes every morning to plan your day, and then focus on getting your most important task done first. You will achieve more this way than if you start the day by looking at emails or social media. Making the choice to plan and prioritise can also become a habit.

There is a saying from the Buddhist tradition which shows this approach has ancient roots: “Sow a thought; reap an action. Sow an action; reap a habit. Sow a habit; reap a character. Sow a character; reap a destiny.”

Woman meditating at her desk

Cultivate a mind altering habit

The habit that made the biggest different to my life last year was starting a regular morning meditation. I made a commitment to do ten minutes a day, just before starting work. Again, one day’s meditation doesn’t change you significantly, but over time a short regular practice trains your mind so that you find it easier to focus and stay calm in the midst of challenges.

Practicing a simple meditation develops the part of the mind that is able to step back and observe, and then make choices. A good meditation practice is one that simply focuses on the breath. You can do this both as a formal and informal meditation practice.

A daily meditation

For a formal meditation, find a time where you will be undisturbed (even a seat on your commuter train is better than nothing), and sit with your spine straight, and your feet on the floor. Close your eyes and allow your mind to focus on your breath. Don’t try to change it, just notice your breathing. Notice how it feels as the air comes in and out. Notice the rise and fall of your belly and chest. When your attention wanders (as it will), then as soon as you notice, gently bring your focus back to your breath.

It is helpful to set a timer so that you know when your time is up. Ten minutes (or even five minutes) a day is enough to be helpful, and 20 minutes is ideal. To keep a formal practice going, commit to making it a priority, and do it at the same time each day so it starts to become a habit.

Stop and pause

Informal meditation is something that you can practice throughout the day. Just take a moment now and again to pause, and notice your breathing. This can help you to remain calm and mindful throughout the day.

What small new habit could make a big difference over time in your life? 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.

Butterfly symbolising change
Sep 30

Manage transitions in your work and life

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Motivation

Making a big career or life change can be tough. And we all have to face changes in our lives. You may want to move to a new job or start a business. You may face redundancy or retirement. You may need to move home, start a family, or return to work after a break.

An approach which can help you manage change comes from the work of William Bridges. Bridges describes the difference between the external change, and the internal process of transition.

“Change is not the same as transition. Change is situational: the new site, the new boss, the new team roles, the new policy. Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation. Change is external, transition is internal.”
William Bridges “Managing Transitions”

Of course, the two don’t always dovetail neatly. Often the external change happens before you’ve had time to make the internal transition. That’s when you can feel stressed, overwhelmed, confused or fearful. In this state, it can be hard to make important decisions about your future.

Understanding the three stages of transition can help you through this process.

Phases of Transition (Bridges)


An aspect of change is that something is being left behind. It is important to acknowledge what is being lost. Even when you want the change to happen, it is valuable to recognise that something is finishing. It allows completion.

Imagine you’re returning to work after time at home with your children. You may be keen to start using your professional skills again, but also need to acknowledge the loss of time with family.

Or you may have been promoted to a management role. This is a positive change. But you may miss being part of your former team, with plenty of camaraderie and fewer responsibilities.

It can be particularly hard when the change is not of your making. If you’re made redundant from a job you enjoy, there is a clearly a loss. It is important to be able to “mourn” that in a sense, before you’re ready to move on. The moving on process can take some time, or it can happen quite quickly. Sometimes the recognition of the ending is all that is needed to free up energy to move forward.

Neutral Zone

This is an in-between stage. You’ve accepted that something is ending, but are not sure about or committed to what comes next. When you recognize that feelings of confusion, uncertainty and even fear are part of this, you can see that they will not last forever.  And there are positive aspects to this phase if you allow them in.

You have choices; choices over how to react to the change, and choices about what to do next. You may find it helpful to re-frame your feelings of uncertainty. You can choose to see them as part of a process of research and ideas generation for creating your next steps. This can be a creative time.

Again, we may pass through the neutral zone quickly. Or it we may have to live in this stage for a while. This is particularly so with a big life change such as moving to a new town.

Mark was struggling with imposed retirement. He needed to go through the process of acknowledging his feelings about the loss of status and routine. In the neutral zone, he started to think about positive ways to spend retirement. He became involved in an active voluntary group fundraising for his community, and also volunteered to mentor younger people in his former line of work.


There is a difference between the start of something new, and the beginning. In Bridges model, the beginning is where we have come through the neutral zone and are psychologically ready to commit to the new reality. And it is important to acknowledge and celebrate the new.

If we have gone consciously through the previous two stages, then we may start to feel the excitement and promise of the beginning.

So for example, we can start a new job with our focus on enjoying and making the most of it, whether or not we would rather have stayed in our previous one.

Isabel had to make some difficult decisions about returning to work after having her daughter.  She didn’t want to go back to the long hours and demands of her corporate job. So she researched her options. Her company didn’t want her to return part-time, and she found that local part-time jobs weren’t a good match for her skills.  So she set up as an independent consultant in her field. She acknowledged the loss of income and job security through her decision. This allowed her to move on and focus on the increased freedom in managing her time and workload, and the excitement of being her own boss.

Like all models, this one is a simplification, and in real life there is an overlap between the three phases. The value comes in recognising where you are in the process. Trying to rush through a stage is counter-productive, and so is dwelling longer than you need in any one phase. You can assess your journey through the transition by noticing the shift in your thoughts and feelings as one stage moves into the next.

Help with managing change – an invitation

Would you like some expert support to help you work through a change or decision in your life? Coaching can be really helpful at times of change, and my style is warm and supportive. Please email me if you would like to book a complimentary consultation.



Rhian and her work
Jun 24

I’ve always wanted to paint, but…

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Creativity , Motivation

Is there an interest, calling or career that you’ve always wanted to explore or rediscover? Maybe a path not taken or a childhood interest neglected? Rhian John’s experience is one of an early passion for painting, revived in mid-life, and which has become a successful business.

Taking the sensible career option

Rhian loved art at school, but like many people, she took what seemed a “sensible” route into the world of work. She took a graphic design degree, and spent 25 years as a graphic designer before picking up a paintbrush again.

That was in 2014 and since then Rhian has attracted a growing interest in her paintings, with almost 8,000 Facebook followers and a recent exhibition at the Theatre Royal in Winchester.

Meeting Rhian at her lovely light and art-filled home near Winchester, she told me that she and her sister were both artistic as children.

After school she took an Art Foundation course, but didn’t think pursuing her love of Fine Art was a sensible career move. So she took a design degree and worked in graphic design for 25 years. “I wouldn’t have known then where to even start to market myself as a painter.”

The love of art never left her, “ I can’t walk past a gallery without going in to see what people do.” But it was only when her son did his A Level art, that Rhian reached a turning point.

Heeding a call

Watching her son, Rhian felt she couldn’t hold back any more, she felt an incredibly strong urge to get the paints out: “It truly just happened. I literally saw my son paint and said “I can’t stand it any more, I’ve got to paint”.

“March 2014 was the first time I picked up my paintbrush. I didn’t know if my paintings were any good, but I put a couple up on Facebook and people bought them. I think if you can do something, you sort of assume everyone is able to do it.”

She started off by digging out a photograph that she’d taken at Hillier Gardens, near Romsey, and painting from that. Initially she worked with acrylics on paper and then moved on as her confidence grew:  “I remember the first time I bought a canvas. I felt very grown up.”

Overcoming fear of failure

The reason why it took Rhian so long to start painting again is one that many of us will relate to. As she explains: “The fear of “what if I can’t do it any more” is part of why I didn’t do it properly. There’s always that fear – if you don’t give it a go, then you haven’t failed. And it’s such a silly reason. As with anything, you improve as you go along.”

Different forms of creativity

Rhian still runs her graphic design company. As she works from home, this offers the flexibility to run the two businesses side by side. And one effect of starting to paint is that she is now enjoying her design work more.

Juggling two business may sound daunting, but Rhian has found that she actually manages her time better now, so she can fit it all in. At the end of the day at her computer, she feels that if she can complete the job then that will free her up to paint the next day. “If I’m nearly at the end of a design job it spurs me on.”

Both design and painting are creative, but in a different way. Design is computer based and there are logical reasons why you would choose certain colours for certain brand values, whereas painting is a very personal thing: “from the heart”

Rhian’s uplifting paintings of nature, flowers and animals are bursting with vibrant shades. “I do just love colour. I take a lot of photographs. I love being outside, love the beach, flowers, colour. I paint what I like. I didn’t do it to make money, but I’ve been incredibly fortunate.”

“Just do it”

paint and brushesRhian receives many messages from people saying “I’d love to start painting again, but…” And her response: ” I would say “I was you. You don’t have to do it as a career.  But just do it!”

“It doesn’t matter what you produce. Art and craft is a great outlet for creativity, and relieves stress. Because you’re concentrating, other things go out of your head.”

So what next? “I don’t want to put massive pressure on myself.  What has happened in the last year has been absolutely fantastic. I will go with the flow, see where it takes me.”

Rhian is participating in Hampshire Open Studios at the end of August. And you can view and buy her paintings and prints online at

Have you rediscovered a passion in mid-life? If so please share your story in the comments box below, I’d love to hear from you.