Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Changeur de carrière extraordinaire

Gaugin - whose exhibition is now on at Tate Modern - moved from sailor to banker to stockbroker to printer and painter.  Isn't the world a richer place as a result?

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Something only an office worker would understand

The joy of shredding.
Great swathes of the stuff as I go through my files and decide what to keep & tidy up for my successor and what to junk.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Ta da!

How do you start the career change process?
See the sidebar for The 10 Minute Guide.
Feedback & questions welcome.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Trying not to wobble

It's a fragile thing, this bud of hope and new beginnings.  I'm learning to disregard the occasional dismissive comments of friends and family, that would once have reinforced my own doubt. It has been a surprise how much work it has taken to build my self belief muscles as I test myself out in new territory.  I'm grateful to those friends and colleagues who have been supportive and enthusiastic; it all helps.    

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Quotes for days when I'm feeling weedy....

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.  ~Seneca

Nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must be first overcome.  ~Samuel Johnson, Rasselas, 1759

A ship in harbor is safe - but that is not what ships are for.  ~John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic

You'll always miss 100% of the shots you don't take.  ~Wayne Gretzky

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.  ~Pablo Picasso

Yes, risk taking is inherently failure-prone.  Otherwise, it would be called sure-thing-taking.  ~Tim McMahon

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.”

Oh boy is that true.  I mean the monthly salary part, of course.  Poverty isn't appealing but neither is joyless striving in a career that was slowly driving me into the ground.  I'm under no illusions.  I expect to experience withdrawal symptoms and the odd moments (please let it only be moments) of panic in the coming months.

All good things...

I'm not a person known for her patience but I am learning to put in the effort and then wait without relentlessly tapping my fingers for the result.

Things are shaping up.

Finally I'm to be operational on website blog section (as soon as I've digested the rules) and it is looking good on the day-a-week working with a performance/theatre company too.  All being well, I will start the Monday after I finish my corporate job.

Next week I'm going to registration and induction for my new Psychology course.  Lots of new people to meet and I am looking forward to learning more about how we're wired as human beings. 

Monday, 20 September 2010

On giving

One of the principles of both leading a good life and being happy is giving.  I listened to one of the free Philosophy Bites podcasts on the drive to work this morning  ( The discussion was with Peter Singer and he makes a compelling, if uncomfortable and hectoring, argument for giving.  I don’t like being told what to do but it’s impossible to argue with the purely selfish reason for giving, that it makes us feel good.  Win win.
Peter’s site for giving and alleviating world poverty in an effective way is

Sunday, 19 September 2010

From esteemed organ The Onion

Increasingly Horrified Man Listens To Self Explain What He Does For A Living
NOVEMBER 10, 2009 | ISSUE 45•46
CHARLOTTE, NC—Dawning horror tinged with self-loathing crept slowly over the face of claims adjuster Robert Pettlebaum, 42, as he described his job and by extension his life to others during a seemingly innocuous Tuesday lunch meeting. "Mostly what I do is I seek out discrepancies in the property appraisal versus the claimant's estimate of worth and then I…then I defer outpays…with…oh, God…," Pettlebaum said as shadows of unspeakable self-realization flickered across his increasingly desperate eyes. "Wait, no, that can't be right. I don't…do I?" Pettlebaum's mounting terror was met with incomprehension and nervous laughter from his companions, who sources indicated have anywhere between three weeks and 27 years before realizing their own existences are as desolate and barren as his.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Slow learner

Sometimes I need to experience the same good thing twice before I remember why it's such a pleasure.  Last weekend and this I spent a day on the beach with friends, feeling the sun, chatting away, people watching, pushing my feet into the pebbles, drinking in the colour of the sea and sky.  Isn't this what life is all about?

Call to action

Being replaced

My replacement has been recruited; she starts in a week or so.  Part of me is relieved - I can hand over to a human being instead of writing lots of notes and my team won't have to pick up my work in the gap.  I'm curious to meet her.  Inevitably, though, I know there will be a lot of comparing going on, not least by me.  Which is silly because I chose to leave.  

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Celebrating good stuff

After handing in my notice I've been through various stages.  The happiness and relief of making the decision.  The anxiety about what I'm going to do next.  Negotiating the reactions of friends and family.  The drive to fill the post job gap with activity.  Time out for having fun and being quiet.  I've cast a few lines into less familiar territory and started to build my post corporate network.  So far I've been very pleasantly surprised by the positive responses I've had.

There are two "successes" I'd like to celebrate.  Neither have been fully realised yet but I think it's worth celebrating the early signs. 

1. Local paper editor agreed to consider hosting my career/life change blog on the paper's website
2. In discussion with a brilliant theatre/performance company to give them support on a day a week basis

Both of these came about because I took action.  As the slogan goes - Just do it.


I work in an open plan office.  A colleague has just moved into the desk next to mine.  He's a bright, fast-brained thinker but sometimes he reminds me of why I'm leaving.  He and another colleague set up a call with yet another colleague and within 2 minutes of starting the call on speaker phone both of them were on separate calls on their Blackberries while the poor girl on speaker continued trying to have the meeting.  It drives me crazy!  But at least now I can be amused by it.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Karen the Catalyst

It's happened a few times.  A friend or a colleague has made a big shift or change in their lives as the result of something I've said or done.  My reaction was usually "oh my God, don't follow me, I haven't a clue what I'm doing!" I didn't want the responsibility.  Now I see that all I did was trigger something that enabled that person to do what they really wanted to do anyway.  So now I say "thank you".  We all need our catalysts.    

Saturday, 11 September 2010


"I always wanted to be a potter".  A colleague who worked in corporate IT said this to me the the last time I attempted an escape from the corporate world.  He had heard I was taking a sabbatical and was really excited for me.  There's a lot of wistfulness for unrealised potential out there.  Even if I fail, I'd rather try and live a more fulfilled life than continue as before.

Off with the shackles

The corporate cage I'll be leaving in 7 weeks is a cage all of my own making.  It's a liberating thought to know that I can choose to walk through the walls.   They're not real walls at all.  Just outdated fear and lack of imagination.

Friday, 10 September 2010


I'm being cheered on by two different groups of people.
From the sidelines: people who would love to change their jobs and are willing me on to success. If I can do it, so can they.
On the track and ahead: people who are already doing what they love, encouraging me to explore finding what I love too.

It's fantastic to have both sets of support and proof that action breeds both action and goodwill.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

All this change

is very tiring.

"In response to your question 'What is worth doing and what is worth having?' I would like to say simply this.  It is worth doing nothing and having a rest" (from The Curly Pyjama Letters).

One day I'm actually going to listen to this message and breathe a happy sigh of relief.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

No more Soulful Singing!

Earlier in the year I wanted a jump start into a different way of thinking and going to Soulful Singing (drop-in harmony singing group) helped in that process.  It was fun but also made me realise what a skill it is to create a supportive, stretching environment for the singing itself to happen as it does.  Like many things I expect the success of the group lies in the preparation as well as the experience, enthusiasm and warmth of the teacher.  I had hoped to keep going both for the pleasure of the experience and to learn how he does it!

The drop-in is no more, but I'm grateful for the jump start and looking forward to finding more experiences like this one in the year ahead.


Monday, 6 September 2010


The identity shift is starting to happen before I've taken a real step on the other side.

Talk is cheap and I'm still taking the corporate dollar so I can't really show the world anything new.  I find myself sliding into looking at finance jobs on the web with a sinking heart.  It's still hard to let go of what I know.

Every now and then I catch a glimpse of another way and those moments of excitement are wonderful.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Take your pick

Quote 1

"Sometimes we have the absolute certainty that there's something inside us that's so hideous and monstrous that if we ever search it out we won't be able to stand looking at it. But it's when we're willing to come face to face with that demon that we face the angel."   Hubert Selby Jr 

Quote 2

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?"  Marianne Williamson

Saturday, 4 September 2010

“Multitasking is a Moral Weakness.”

I used to laugh at men who switched off the car radio before reversing into a tight parking space.  Now the penny is starting to drop.  My butterfly brain has become less and less able to concentrate, to focus and savour the moment.  This is my loss and I feel the effect of this flitting restlessness in my body and in the attention I'm able to give other people and myself.  

The TV went three weeks ago.  I don't miss it.


Counting down

I'm now in my final two months of 9 to 5 (hah!  I don't think I've ever just worked the core hours), so the end is in sight and the beginning of something new is starting to feel a little more real.  At first, the idea of leaving work felt like leaping into a void.  I don't yet have a strong or clear idea of what I will be doing for a living this time next year.  But I have started to pre fill that void.  I begin a Psychology course one day a week later this month.  I don't know that I want to become a Psychologist but this will be a good way to find out how interested I am.  It will also give a structure to my week, something for my brain to do - there will be homework - and fellow students to meet.  I've signed up for a singing course with a local community choir and am busy looking at other courses to do just for fun.  The void is feeling less scary and more exciting as time goes on.      

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Oh I wish I worked for Dan Pink!

Chocolate booty

Way back in June I wrote a little piece about my walking holiday for the Ramblers blog (dipping my first toe into writing in public).  And today I got a chocolate boot in the post as a thank you.  Wasn't that nice?  Manners alive and well in the walking world.

How great is that?

"For our personal life, there is plenty of knowledge about how to live if you want to be happy. The New Economics Foundation recommend that every day you do 5 things – the spiritual equivalent of the 5 fruit and veg a day needed for physical health.

These five activities spell GREAT – Giving, Relating to other people, Exercising the body, Attending to the world around, and Teaching yourself something fresh."

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Advice from Richard Alderson of Careershifters

What advice would you give to people thinking about a change in career?

Do something about the way you're feeling. Don't remain stuck, whatever you do. A change in career might or might not be what you need, but at least understand why you're not happy. Look at yourself first to do that. Then consider what you might do with your life that truly excites you. It's not always easy to get there and it almost certainly won't happen overnight, but there are thousands of other people doing things that excite them. Why shouldn't you also be able to?

The wisdom in this advice is that career dissatisfaction may be very real but it may not be the whole story.  Unless we're willing to have a good look at what's driving our discontent, chances are a shift in career will not in itself provide what we are really looking for.