The Career Coach Stripped Bare

A few months ago, the usual stream of work had dissipated, and I started to explore my options. After doling out career advice to thousands of people over the years, I was getting a taste of my own medicine.

It all began in 2005, when I took a leap of faith and plunged into self-employment. After more than two decades of a coddled corporate life, I was a sole-trader with no promise of work in the pipeline. Slowly but surely, projects came my way. I enjoyed working without the shackles of an employment contract, and the newly found freedom allowed me to commute between a city apartment and a house in the country.

Eventually, I developed relationships with several consulting firms which provided me with a variety of assignments, added value to my expertise, and offered the collegiality that sole-traders often sorely miss. As I settled into my new routine, I created a website and started blogging. Seduced by the new age of social media, I devoured the articles, posts and ideas written by ‘experts’ and consumed e-courses that offered the promise of a thriving online business. My income supported a modest lifestyle, in exchange for a schedule on my terms. But the gut wrenching moments of this rollercoaster ride were always around the corner.

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The Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Takeaways

This is the final day of the 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge. And just quietly, I’m a little relieved.

Writing isn’t one of my ‘superpowers’. A blog post takes me an excessive amount of time and energy to produce. After a trail of Ds and Es at school (and once an undignified F, when Dad helped me with my homework!), my teacher was gobsmacked when I snagged a B for English in the Year 12 exams.

I joined this Challenge to get back into the swing of writing again. I don’t pretend to be a blogger or an academic. I like to write accessible, practical posts to help professionals as they navigate the twist and turns of their careers. As an integral part of my website, the blog also gives potential clients a glimpse of how I think and work.

Today’s final blog challenge is to review my experience over the last 10 days:

What I enjoyed most about my experience of taking part in the blog challenge

Although I’m not a natural writer, I liked being pushed out of my comfort zone. The daily challenges were mini business planning sessions, which was timely as I focus on the year ahead.  As the challenge progressed, my posts became more like journal entries, which gave me further clarity about my career coaching practice.

My favorite challenge day and why

Day 2’s challenge on ‘Discovering your Why’ was my favourite. The post Why I’m a Career Coach gets to the heart of my mission, and niche in the career management arena. This post reflects how I will communicate about my business from now on.

The biggest takeaway I’ve had from it

My biggest takeaway is that I already enjoy a huge amount of freedom in my life. Although I can do more to build a sustainable business, the spade work over the last 10 years is paying dividends.

The next step I’m going to take to make my freedom plan a reality

If I’m going to develop a successful online business, I need more information and feedback on what my ideal clients want and need for their careers, how they’d like services delivered, and where I can help them.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 10 

Wherever I Lay My Hat, I Work Then Play

Since I escaped from the cubicle nation, I’ve enjoyed a flexible lifestyle, which is just the way I like it.

But there is one constant in my daily life. As I mentioned in my earlier post, mornings are like gold to me. And wherever I am, there’s the same ritual – whether I’m at my desk, heading off to work with a client, or travelling.

I’ve been living a double life for a decade. My partner and I had the best of both worlds, a city apartment and 100 acre property in country Victoria. It had a pine forest, kangaroos, wombats, and a gorgeous garden – pure serenity. Five years later, we traded that hideaway for a house on the lake. The jaw-dropping backdrop and fluctuating moods of the lake, stole my heart.

I always had a dedicated work space, the ability to connect with others, and my work day flowed. After I started coaching people on the phone and then via Skype, the world of possibilities opened up.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been sowing the seeds for an online business. One which will galvanise my freedom, and reach more of the kind of people I love to work with. Apart from a shift in income stream, I don’t expect there’ll be a dramatic change to my day.

I will continue to dive into my work from 8am-noon. After that time a cafe beckons, wherever I am in the world. For two opportunistic hours I could be anywhere and everywhere. I become an observer of life, and strike up conversations with both familiar and new faces. I’m engaging with my environment and the tactile side of life.

After this fix, I’m re-energised  and motivated to spend a few more hours in my work space again. Wherever I lay my hat, I will always work first, then play.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 9 

A Sunday Soul Adventure

I love Sundays. It’s the one day of the week that I want to ‘sleep-in’, get to a favourite cafe before it’s packed out, but still enjoy the freshness of an early morning walk with the dog. All before 10am.

This morning I won the trifecta. We were at Kensington Gardens early enough to give Chica an off-lead run, and bump into Robert. He has three small dogs – Chloe (who has arthritis and often rides in a pusher), Toby (who’s had a cataract removed) and young Rebel. That little pack had already been walking for miles, and were on their way home. Those pups always make me smile.

Kensington Gardens was my childhood playground. It has majestic gums, and a creek cuts a diagonal course from one side of the park to the other.

I used to love wading around the pebbles in the creek. After the recent deluge, two boys were playing in the same spot today. At high school, I completed a geography project on the twist and turns of that creek.

Although playing fields were quiet this morning, the whistles of Saturday afternoon sport (which I could hear from our house a few streets away), still warm the cockles of my heart.

There’s a bench overlooking an oval where Chica and I make a quick pitstop. It’s named in honour of my father, who helped create those memories.

The healthy-start breakfast and soy latte in a cafe with happy, familiar faces wraps up my adventure. My soul has been nourished and I’m ready to go home.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 8 

Knock Overwhelm on the Head

Right now, I feel overwhelmed with every fibre of my being. I need to restore my mojo pronto. After being on the back-burner for way too long, I plan to launch my first e-course Redundancy SOS: Kick-start Your Job Search in 5 Days, before the end of this year.

As my recent tropical holiday came to an end, I signed up for a few online courses. I figured they’d help me to focus on my business after I returned home. But despite a clear diary, there’s a backlog of homework competing for my best time of day.

How do I go about it? The idea of a schedule makes me twitchy. I prefer to allow wriggle room for the unexpected. And unlike some outcome-oriented professionals, I don’t get a buzz from ticking off my list of accomplishments at the end of the day.

So what’s one action I can take, rinse then repeat for the next 30 days?

At the end of each day, I’ll review and prioritise the chunks of work that need my morning brain power, using Bob Boyd’s Urgency vs Importance Matrix. I’ll then identify the one or two jobs from Box #1 for the following morning.


This simple process will not only organise my workload, it will knock overwhelm on the head.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 7 

Finding My Tribe

If you’ve read my posts during The Freedom Plan Blog Challenge, you already know that I want to give career transition and change a makeover. I plan to challenge the traditional career management model, and deliver my coaching services online.

My dream clients inhabit organisations. They are HR and people managers who support their employees through career transition and change. They’re also professionals who want to make career moves on their terms.

I’ve sat through endless video tutorials, downloaded a gazillion guides, and spent thousands of dollars on e-courses. While there are plenty of people I’ve learned from, admire and follow, sometimes I feel like a wallflower at a party. I haven’t found my tribe yet.

But there is someone who’s setting a cracking pace, and chalking up impressive achievements in my arena.

Kathy Caprino has blogs on, Huffington Post and LinkedIn. She’s interviewed many business luminaries, written a book , has a podcast, and built a strong online community. Kathy also runs an e-course called the Amazing Career Project.

While I don’t wish to mimic her business model, I think Kathy will get me. She provides a shining light as I pursue my online career coaching practice.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 6 

A Solopreneur’s Daily Formula For Success

Since making the leap from corporate life to solopreneurship a decade ago, I’ve honed the art of self-discipline. But as my interests evolve and change, the distractions soar. If I’m going to make a success of my online business, my daily routine needs some re-calibration.

I’m a morning person, and prefer to be left alone as I set my course for the day. After a walk with the dog, shower and breakfast, the first hour at the desk dictates my daily accomplishments. My mind is fresh and I’m at my best. Whether I’m working from home, offsite with a client or travelling, this formula seldom wavers.

My formula for a successful day has three components:


I’m at my desk by 8.30am. I’ve always had a dedicated home office which is comfortable, and fitted out with all the resources I need to get stuff done. My desk faces the window, so there’s plenty of light and an outlook to the world. With my dog asleep under the desk, I have companionship. The only distractions are self-imposed.


I read, respond and delete emails as required. If I find articles of interest, I share them. Unless something needs urgent attention, I try not to get sucked into the black hole of social media.


I review my work schedule then download and sort the things on my mind. A bundle of Sharpies makes this task a whole lot more colourful! The low value time-sucking jobs are separated from the work which needs my attention. I’ll review, prioritise and allocate myself a discrete chunk of a project to be completed that morning.

Now I’m ready to focus on service delivery.

I have a clear runway to create and develop course content or write blog posts. Although I have stretch breaks on the hour, I’m absorbed by the flow of productivity until noon. Then I’m free for client meetings, making connections, social media and tackling low priority tasks on the list.

And there’s always time for cafe conversations with colleagues and friends, who inspire and re-fuel me for another day.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 5 





Superpowers Unplugged

The first step for anyone confronting a career change is take a good hard look at themselves – in the nicest possible way of course.

Each career pitstop is the perfect time to review and reflect on your roles and responsibilities to date. This includes identifying what you enjoy, what you do well, and what the market wants. The intersection of all three is referred to as your sweet spot, strengths or in this post – ‘superpowers’.

Today the focus is on my superpowers. Although I’m a bit of a chameleon, there are two common threads weaving through my career.

Superpower 1: Interviewing

I have form as an interviewer. I’m insatiably curious about people, and what they do. My early career involved recruiting school-leavers, graduates, and selecting staff for offshore roles. After I left corporate life I became an executive recruitment consultant. My first assignment was to find two Aides for the Governor of Victoria. I was off like a rocket!

Interviewing skills have translated into my current work as a career consultant and coach. This passion and expertise enables me to listen to people, challenge their thinking, and make suggestions about the next steps. My knowledge of an individual’s backstory and aspirations also helps as we explore their options, which engages my other ‘superpower’.

Superpower 2: Ideas

As someone with eclectic interests, I get excited by ideas. The people I work with are often deeply immersed in their day jobs. They haven’t had much time to check what’s happening outside their company or industry. I become the conduit between their current position and the world of possibilities.

I love pushing the boundaries, and encourage clients to think about both the common and less obvious choices. While I like to inspire the people I work with, I try to package ideas with pragmatism.

My superpowers give me the freedom to enjoy a variety of projects. And as much as I prefer the ‘high-touch’ environment in which to unleash my superpowers, technology allows me to connect with more of the people I love to work with.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 4 

Why I’m a Career Coach

Career Management has an image problem. It’s often led by organisations rather than individuals; an after-thought, just-in-time or overlooked altogether.

I’m fired up about challenging the status quo, and want to give style to career transition and change.

My mission is to help professionals make career moves on their terms. It’s easy for savvy professionals to lose touch with the realities of a turbulent marketplace. Consumed with their day job, it becomes a low priority, until circumstances change – sometimes abruptly.

As ‘jobs for life’ are almost extinct and redundancies have become a routine business process, I want professionals to insure their careers so they have the freedom to choose their next career opportunity. Job loss and career transition is far easier to manage when someone is career fit.

There are a couple of other things which inspire me as a career coach:

The new career mid-point

In their recent book The 100 Year Life, Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott discuss how new technologies are enabling us to work and live longer. The traditional view of retirement has changed, the nature of work will continue to evolve, and career navigation will be on a jungle gym – not rungs on a ladder.

Fifty is the new career mid-point. People who invest in their careers will have a competitive advantage. If an individual’s skills and expertise have currency, they are more likely to have ongoing employment, which directly impacts their options and quality of life.

[Tweet “50 is the new career midpoint. Invest in yourself for career longevity. “]

Women + Economic Independence

I’m passionate about women investing in themselves and their careers, irrespective of marital or motherhood status. If a woman has economic independence, she has freedom and choice. When women have sustainable careers – families, organisations and communities thrive.

Everyone deserves career fulfilment. That’s Why I’m a Career Coach.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 2