Nearly the end of the summer holidays and I asked my youngest son what he thought I should write about today. ͞Proper jobs, Mum. That’s what you’ve been talking a lot about recently! A number of coaching and travel experiences have got me reflecting on this topic.

Back in July I was approached by a parent asking if I would coach her 27-year-old son whom, she believed, should be looking for a proper job. Since finishing university, Alex had successfully secured snow and sun season jobs building a strong reputation within a handful of companies. He was so animated when describing these roles. By contrast now he was sending out unsuccessful applications for desk jobs in the UK which would provide a fixed location and steady income in sectors like finance and manufacturing which, although sensible as they drew on his degree subject, did not interest or excite him in the same way. Part of him wanted to please his parents whose views he respected greatly, part of him thought it was time to be sensible to stop having fun and knuckle down to the proper world of work. A large part of him though, wasn’t convinced or enthused by this world!

What’s important to you at present? Question whether well-meaning parents share your values
Our hiking guide in Yosemite National Park this summer reinforced these views. Peter, a 23 year old American, fresh out of College was loving the opportunity to use all his outdoor skills, to build strong relationships quickly with his clients and be trusted with responsibility. As we plodded along the mountain trail I inevitably got drawn to quiz him on his career aspirations – could just hear my sons groaning as I started on my pet topic! Peter was loving the moment and although he felt that one year soon he’d have to start looking for a sensible office job, he was in no rush. By contrast, Scott, 38-year-old rafting instructor on the Tuolumne River had tried a proper job but just didn’t feel the same interest for it so returned to the outdoors world once again. Although he earns a lot less in his rafting job Scott affirmed he spends a lot less too. His seasonal job also gives him the flexibility to pursue environmental and creative film projects.

Start a portfolio career early in life with a mix of work, learning and volunteering
Back home I have coached three young people this summer all facing a similar dilemma. All of them currently in their 20’s or early 30’s working in proper jobs- accountancy, product development and medical administration. None of them happy or satisfied and yearning to find the right job instead.

Jack took the plunge and resigned from his accountancy role as a knee jerk reaction to his unhappiness, without a clear view of what he would rather be doing instead. I started coaching him from there. Personality profiling helped him identify that certain elements of the role, particularly when meeting and presenting to clients had actually played to his strengths and his interests. He had felt overwhelmed, thinking he was committing to a life-time of balancing accounts and jumped ship. Employees stay with an organisation 3 to 5 years, on average, in the UK. It’s probable that Jack could have completed his accounting qualification and used it as a springboard, an area of expertise to move from the corporate world to the charity sector and fulfil his interest in “giving back”.

Prepare for the plunge before you jump by gaining expertise or specific skills
Kathy is finding her product development role unfulfilling although it plays to her creative strengths and university degree. She wants a family soon and a helpful, caring job that can be done flexibly alongside. She is plotting her next move and preparing to take the plunge. Personality profiling has helped her too. People with her profile are in the majority drawn to caring roles. She has been doing internet research into other career directions as well as meeting and talking to people working in roles she is interested in, to find out lots more. She’s testing out whether they are right for her in a no-risk way, while she’s still working and earning a salary. Kathy has also signed up for a Counselling and Transactional Analysis course. She will gain new skills, new network and contacts and confidence in her new direction.

Use personality profiles to identify better suited alternatives
Andy has taken the plunge after a year of researching alternatives and is going to do a self-funded PhD in History and Politics. These are his passion. He feels alive and articulate when discussing them whereas in his medical administration job he feels pressurised and quiet. Using a logical approach, he has created a spreadsheet of his future career and earnings, comparing current salary with potential lecturer roles. He also realised that although he has spent 11 years on his current, proper job that he still has 38 years of employment until he retires at 70. He would much rather spend that time doing something that inspires him. He needed someone else to give him permission to take the plunge, which I was able to do for him!

Studies show that if you change your job in your thirties, you are far happier in your work when you reach your forties and fifties – take the plunge For all those of us in our mid-life, don’t lose heart. Be like my school friend whom I’m currently coaching – Karen is heading off for a long distance open water swim between the islands of New Zealand for two months. It’s the journey of life time. She has resigned from her Pensions Executive role and has laid the ground work for her future search for a different career direction with creation of skills-based CV and LinkedIn profile. Final inspiration for this article came from reading a piece by journalist Melanie Reid in the Saturday Times recently. She’s a tetraplegic after breaking her neck and back in a riding accident in 2010. She says:

“Why does no one tell you, in those golden years before you are 30, how incredibly short and precious life is? Try to spot when you’re in one of your life’s golden times while you’re in it, not afterwards. Go for it – take the plunge!”

Client names changed to protect confidentiality.

Read more about Yosemite at
Miranda Sawyer’s book Out of Time is an interesting reflection on mid-life

If you would like help to take the plunge or find out about the right career for you then get in touch with me on or 07748 815078