Testing things out

Yesterday I was listening to someone talk about her experience of underwater diving. When she tried it for the first time, she was gobsmacked. She couldn’t believe what a wonderful world existed beneath the water. Then and there she decided that she wanted to return. She wanted to somehow work in this underwater world. She was willing to change her life for it. But she needed to test it out, and see if it was really for her. 

So she had an opportunity when she had a three week gap in between the tv production projects she was working on. She decided to go back to Thailand where she’d had that underwater experience, and see if she felt the same. Maybe this time she’d just think it was pretty and not have the same amazing life changing reaction. And that would be her guide. If she felt the same, she’d act on it. 

The rest is history. She went on to have a career spending years at sea, exploring the deep sea, which resulted in working on the production of the tv series Blue Planet II. 

It’s hard to test things out right now. We might not be planning a trip to Thailand to work out what we want from life, but being out and about can be key to career change, if your situation allows it. Meeting people, networking, exploring. Going to a workshop, doing an in-person course, visiting someone’s place of work or doing work experience or job shadowing. We don’t currently have the same freedom to be out and about or travelling around. 

But we can still go with our instincts. If some area of work is calling to you it’s easy to dismiss it as too hard to get into, too competitive, too expensive to retrain. But, there are different ways of going about things. 

Stuck at home, you can still build a clearer picture of what that work is all about. You can read about people currently doing that work. Articles, blogposts, social media posts, books. Also: podcasts. You can find people doing interesting work, and find out how they got there. Seek out how they spend their time. You can read about them, you can try contacting them and asking them more. Most people are quite flattered if you tell them you’re interested in their work and how they got there, and are happy to give a few pointers.

You can work out what you might need to do to get there. Maybe you do have the required transferable skills. Perhaps you can sign up to a free course which will give you some insight into that area of work, and new skills. You can work out how much money you would need to retrain, what do you need to start saving? 

The main thing is getting started, and not staying stuck. Research, and then start taking some kind of action.

Photo by Kris Mikael Krister on Unsplash

Don’t lose hope

A client who’d lost her job contacted me in February for some coaching just before the pandemic truly hit. She was in a difficult place, but hadn’t quite lost all hope.

Luckily she could leave London and go and live with her Mum, so rent wasn’t a worry. But it wasn’t ideal.

She needed to find a new job, and get on with her life. She had great aspirations, she wanted to buy her own place, and to travel.

And, she’d really lost her confidence. Her working environment before being made redundant hadn’t been great, then losing her job hit her hard.

So, we worked on building her confidence. I set her small tasks to do each week; honestly working out what her strengths are; noting when she’d acted in a confident manner, contacting strangers on LinkedIn and asking for advice on applying for the company they work for.

She was scared of being seen as annoying.

But she was determined, completed her tasks, and found that it was easier than she’d imagined.

People saw her for what she is, a lovely, capable, dedicated person.

She ended up with several job interviews – one a direct approach from LinkedIn.

And she found a new job in May!

With a company that seemed to share her values, who wants to hear her voice, and who are committed to employee wellbeing and happiness, with open conversations. Just what she needed.

None of this would have happened if she hadn’t taken action. As much as she was scared, feeling low, and lacking in self-esteem – she knew that she’d have to do some work in order to find a new job.

She took it step by step, was proactive, asked for help. And she persisted, even when it felt cringey, uncomfortable, risky. She didn’t’ lose hope, and it paid off.

If you’d like to try coaching with me, read more and contact me via LinkedIn, or send me an email at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Peter Boccia on Unsplash

Looking Forward to Autumn

I do love Autumn. An excuse to start hunkering down. A whole ‘new’ wardrobe of long forgotten jeans, shirts, jumpers and shoes. And slippers! 

Here are a few things I’m looking forward to doing in the coming months.

Reading MORE books – I have Dolly Alderton’s Ghosts and Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club next on my book pile. And audiobook versions of Claudia Winklemen’s Quite, and Caitlin Moran’s More Than a Woman. I feel and hope that they are all going to be warm hugs of books. I just finished Emma Gannon’s Olive which I loved. It was the reading equivalent of cuddling up on the sofa with a cup of tea. So when you actually read it on the sofa with a cup of tea, even better. 

Films – with Halloween coming up, it’s the perfect excuse to find some spooky films to watch. On my list I have Coco, Hocus Pocus and I feel like rewatching Edward Scissorhands. And quite honestly, right now I want comforting old PG classics like Back to the Future, Parenthood, Father of the Bride

Popping into a café on my own, for a read and a coffee. I haven’t done much of this at all this year, with the restrictions in place. But it’s such a joy, to just take a moment, read, people watch, see life passing by. 

TV – I am so excited to watch the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing…and whichever new BBC dramas are on their way. I’m looking forward to watching some Netflix documentaries, the one on Ruth Bader Ginsburg, The Social Dilemma, the new David Attenborough series A Life on Planet Earth

Cooking – I got into some serious cooking during lockdown, opening up unused recipe books and experimenting. This is the perfect time to try out some more new one-pot dishes, hearty, warming, delicious. And maybe the odd cake here and there. Nothing really beats a cup of tea and a bit of cake. 

Lighting candles. I love it when the evenings get darker and I want to create a cosy feel, there’s something magical about candlelight. It feels like a little ritual, lighting my candles and enjoying the glow. 

Walking – at last the season of wrapping up warm and heading out for some leaf kicking! I want to spend as much time in nature as possible, just enjoying being outside. After the seriously restrictive lockdown here in Spain and then hot summer days where you can’t easily walk around, I’m so happy to be able to comfortably walk and walk and walk…

Playing card games – another thing that helped me through lockdown – I’ve realised one of my happy places is playing a game while listening to music at the same time, singing along. Something about that combination makes me so happy. I guess you could call it ‘in the zone’, concentrating, being present. Perfect for when it’s crappy weather outside but you don’t want to watch TV all day.

There we go. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my plans for Autumn and things to look forward to and enjoy. Maybe it’s encouraged you to think of your own. Have fun!

If you’d like to try career change coaching with me, contact me via LinkedIn or at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

True Rest

I read an article today about the lost art of true rest. It struck a chord with me. Because just this week, something’s been nagging at me. Even though I’m a big supporter of not doing too much, taking proper breaks, resting when you need to rather than powering through – I’m starting to feel as though every second of my working day is filled with something.

Yesterday as I went to work, walked around at lunch, walked home, walked to the gym, walked back, prepared a snack, cooked, tidied up, got ready for bed – during all those moments I was listening to podcasts. 

Now, I’m the biggest fan of podcasts. But sometimes as I walk along I feel as though I have a thought trying to push through. On the whole I’m quite good at stopping the podcast to have a think. But I’ve started listening to a new BBC drama series which is seriously spooky and gripping. So I’m racing through the episodes. And it’s bringing with it a sense of urgency. Yesterday I felt that I was pushing down those thoughts trying to come up. And actually it means I’m not giving myself thinking space when I need it. 

In this article the writer talks about a few types of ‘real rest’, and one of them is to walk outside in nature without a device. That struck me, as I pretty much always stick a podcast on when I’m walking outside. There’s just so much to take in and get through…

And I realise that’s not necessarily a good thing…feeling like you need to get through stuff. That list of podcast episodes piling up, all the tv shows coming out that I’m adding to my mental to watch list, and I’m wondering when I’m going to find the time to watch them all. All the books I’m desperate to read and want to ‘get through’.

It’s all mental clutter isn’t it? It’s all gentle pressure, adding to that feeling of always being on, always doing.

I so rarely just walk along quietly, not listening to a podcast. Just taking in the sounds of the park, the birds, the city sounds in the background. 

The other day I was waiting in a little courtyard to meet a friend for a cup of tea. I went out with my tea, and just…sat. I looked up at the sky, and sipped my tea. I felt the coolness of the air and listened to the sounds around me. I let myself think whatever random thoughts I was having. When my friend arrived, she joked that she didn’t want to disturb me, I looked so peaceful. She was right. That’s a proper rest. Not doing anything other than sipping a tea and thinking.

So I’m going to try and do that more often. Sit without any distractions. Step outside without plugging into a podcast from time to time. My aim is to delete all but around three podcast episodes so that I don’t always have this long list to scroll through and make decisions about. I can always add something back in if I really want to listen to it. But I feel the need to ease back on the clutter a bit.


PS After I finished writing this article I went to leave the flat. I automatically reached to put my headphones in…and took them out again. I told myself that I could at least try starting my walk without a podcast. If I felt desperate I could always plug in. And do you know what, I survived. And it was really nice. The little voice in my head was free to chatter away, with time and space to do so. I arrived at work feeling calm and ready to go. 


I help people going through a career change. If you’d like to start on your career change journey, book in for some coaching sessions with me. Find me here on LinkedIn , or email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

My biggest lesson from 2020 so far

One of my favourite writers is a lady called Alexandra Franzen. In an recent email she included some writing prompts, one being ‘My biggest lesson from 2020 so far’. It got me thinking. What would I say has been my biggest lesson so far? In a crazy year where we’ve all learned a lot about ourselves, my most important lesson is probably remembering just how important love and connection to my family and friends is. It’s certainly what keeps me going every day. 

But there’s another thing that came to mind, and perhaps what I need to remind myself of the most. Something to help me in these post-lockdown limbo times.

And it’s this: The world keeps turning. Things change, and we move on. 

The last time I was in the UK, it was in February for a wedding and a friend’s birthday. The night before I left to return to Spain, it was cold, dark wintry. 

When lockdown started in March we had rainy, cold spring days, I remember being confined in my flat wearing jumpers and slippers. 

Then suddenly it was summer, and I no longer needed a jumper or extra layer. As we were quarantined for so long here in Spain, we didn’t have the usual exposure to the changing seasons. I have no views of trees out of my windows, only other buildings, right up close. So there was nothing to use as a gauge. Only the way the light fell, the feeling in the air, the intensity of the sun. Just as we were emerging from our flats for the first time, we were into the start of summer. And there was the sudden realisation that so much time had passed. 

Right now most of us are feeling stuck, in limbo. Post-lockdown we’ve been going about our daily lives, but with this constant feeling that things aren’t right, we’re waiting for something to happen, something to change. As I write this now, I’m trying to take on a feeling of acceptance, although it’s hard. Acceptance that things are probably going to stay like this for quite a while, this limbo time. 

And life goes on. We have new routines. My weekly quiz with my parents has become a regular fixture in our lives. If I can’t visit them every couple of months, as I used to, then at least we can ‘spend time together’, in a different way. 

Sporadic calls with my young nieces have taken on a new significance. They are literally growing before my very eyes. Wobbly teeth, new glasses, a haircut. Stretching out, centimetre by centimetre. When I see them on the screen – my desire to hug another human has never been stronger.

I’m sending more cards, being apart from friends is making me feel more nostalgic. I’ve rediscovered the joy of creating a birthday card using old photos, from uni days, school days, holidays, time spent together. 

My birthday, which I’ve just had, felt particularly special this year. I felt so loved. Each text message, video call, card or present sent in the post felt meaningful. The idea that someone had gone to the effort of selecting something for me, buying it, wrapping it. Posting things. It reminded me that these people care for me, they want the best for me, they are thinking of me, they want to bring me a little joy. There is so much kindness. Even though we can’t be together, we are connected in a special way. 

I have a feeling the winter months are going to be particularly hard. Darker, rainier, colder days don’t always inspire much joy and lightness. Feelings of gloominess and isolation may well increase. Even so – all I ever really want to do in these months is light some candles and hibernate and read. There’s never been a more fitting time to do just that. I’m trying to tell myself that it’ll be ok. 

I guess the seasons are a way of reminding us that life is changing and moving forwards, even if we feel stuck and that our lives are on standby. Maybe it feels like things we wanted to do are just impossible right now, like change career, meet a new partner, move house, travel – it all feels incredibly risky or unlikely right now. The economy is not great. Meeting new people, let alone getting close to them feels quite unrealistic. We’re either not allowed to travel or we know that if we do we could go into lockdown or get ill or whatever. 

But, time is moving on, and we can create change in our own lives, even if we’re still mainly within the same four walls we have been since March. We can move with the seasons, adapting our cooking, changing our wardrobes, changing our routines, lighting candles, reading more.

We can still take things step-by-step, exploring career change by reading, listening and talking; online dating; searching for a new home; dreaming of travel. Everything at a slower pace. Knowing that one day we will be out of limbo.


Career change can still happen during this uncertainty! If you’d like to start on your career change journey, step-by-step, rather than wait until things are ‘normal’ again (so when will that be?) book in for some coaching sessions with me. Find me here on LinkedIn , or email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Maksim Shutov on Unsplash