Is it too late?

I read an article where a reader was asking for advice. Is wanting to change career at 30 years old a crazy idea? Basically, is it too late?

Here are my thoughts.

Firstly, you’re probably likely to be working for many more years to come. Do you really want to stay doing what you’re doing for 10 or 20 more years? 5 more years? 1 more year?

Secondly, what are your motivations for wanting to change career? For instance, is it that you don’t get on with your team or manager? 

Do you feel that you’ve grown out of the role, it doesn’t interest you any more or sit with your values?

Are you bored, do you feel you’ve learned all there is to know and you’re not growing?

Maybe you’ve always had a secret desire to do a particular job, become a writer, teach, do social work, and you’re realising it’s now or never?

Or is it something else?

Whatever it is, it’s worth taking the time to uncover what’s really going on. Does it definitely mean a career change is the way forward?

If it’s a team or manager issue, can that be addressed somehow? If you have an HR department could they help? Could a side step into a different role in your company be a possibility? Do you actually need to leave, or if you enjoy the work, could the situation be improved?

If you feel that you’ve grown out of your role or you’re feeling bored, is it something you could speak about with your manager, HR or someone senior in the company? Could you change projects, start something new, move into a new team? 

That restless feeling of boredom, could a more creative or entrepreneurial pursuit or hobby give you the freshness and excitement you need? Could you start something on the side; a blog, creating artwork, learning a language, volunteering, selling something you’ve created or can offer? Would that be enough to satisfy that urge?

Having a steady, slightly boring job can be an asset if you need the energy for writing a novel on the side, or starting your own small business or freelancing project.

This secret desire you’ve been pushing down for a particular job or career, what does the reality look like? Do you know anyone doing the work, or could you be put in contact with someone? Is there anybody you can speak to and get a realistic view of what the job entails? How do they really spend their time, what training did they need, how do they get started? Does the reality fit with the image you have? 

Can you break down the steps you’d need to take to get there? Does it fire you up or seem like too much hard work?

Wanting to change career at any age isn’t crazy, in fact it’s pretty common. But not everyone goes ahead and does it. Because it seems daunting, scary, risky. But, for most people, a huge amount of your time is spent at work. In my opinion, the crazy thing to do would be to put up with a job that makes you miserable, depleted, frustrated – if you have the means and the opportunity to change.

Most importantly, get help – read books on career change, listen to podcasts, listen to talks. Find out how other people have gone about a career change and use their tips to guide you, you’ll always find someone in a similar situation to you. Talk to someone who’s been through a career change, maybe get help from a coach who can help you upick what’s going on in your head and make a plan. 

If you are seriously considering a career change, it’s not crazy and it’s not too late. Something has obviously sparked this feeling. You just need to figure out what’s motivating you, what are your options, and go for it, small steps at a time. Good luck.

If you need help with your career change, you can contact me at LinkedIn or email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Sam Moqadam on Unsplash


I feel stuck!

Here are some of the things clients have written to me when they’ve reached the point of desperation in their career situation.

 “I feel stuck!!!”

“I am totally lost with what I actually want to do with my life and career.”

“I’ve been stuck for some time in figuring out what I’d like to do in my career.”

“I’m at a major cross roads!!”

It’s common to feel stuck. You don’t want to move forwards with your current career as it no longer feels right. You don’t want to carry on what you’re doing. You’ve lost any joy or interest in what you’re doing.

But – it offers a regular salary, certain security, you’re comfortable, you know what you’re doing. You can just cruise along. It isn’t enough for you, but it’s not exactly scary.

And the unknown, is scary.

A new job, new colleagues, a new set-up, possibly a new industry. A steep learning curve, the possibility that you won’t like it or won’t fit in. It’s all quite daunting.

Add in cvs, applications, cover letters, interviews, it all seems such a lot of work.

So you stay stuck.

You don’t do anything, you dream, you worry, you procrastinate. You lose confidence and you stay small.

I’ve worked with enough clients in this situation to know that although career change can seem daunting and scary, the scariest thing is actually doing nothing. Staying stuck, feeling crap, kicking yourself for not sorting your life out.

The best way to start feeling good again, to feel a bit motivated, a bit energetic, is to start on your career change journey.

It’s like a side project, your little secret – where it’s all about working out what you want, how you want your life to be, and how you can get there. Sorting out your values so that you find a job that actually matches what you want to achieve. Looking not only at what you’ve done in the past, but at what you really want to be doing, and could be doing, in the future.

Career change can actually be fun if you look at it as a discovery project. You can do the research, get inspiration, read about people who enjoy their work. Get ideas about what might interest you. Contact or talk to people within your wider circle of acquaintances, start finding opportunities.

Most importantly, you start DOING. Feel inspired to apply for that job. Be feel brave enough to ask that acquaintance about their work and find out if there are any openings. Say yes to finding out more about an opportunity that has presented itself.

If you need guidance with your career change, I help people come up with their own personal plan of action. We break down where it is they want to get to, and what are the steps to get there. Then we work on each step, starting small. If you’d like my help, you can contact me at LinkedIn or email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Lachlan Donald on Unsplash


Holding yourself back

My client needed to find a new job as she had been made redundant. But she had lost her confidence. It was really holding her back. In her previous job she felt she couldn’t make her own decisions or act autonomously. And she didn’t know how to be more assertive. She’d got into the habit of falling back, staying quiet.

So she was hesitant about applying for new jobs. Although she had a good idea want she wanted to move on to, she didn’t know if she’d be able to sell herself. And she was scared of ending up in the same situation, with an overbearing manager, micro-managing her every move and criticising her.

This resulted in her going for jobs which didn’t match up to her level of experience or pay expectations. She felt that staying small would make things easier for her. But then she felt huge frustration. She knew she was better than this, that she could go for roles that were bigger and better, where she could showcase her skills and experience. And she had financial goals, such as travelling and one day buying a house.

My client worked with me on improving her confidence, which meant shifting the way she saw herself and reflecting on what she had achieved. She listed times she had acted assertively or confidently. She considered other areas of her life apart from work where she was a confident person.

The aim was to shake off the skin of her previous job; let that be in the past. Her new plan was to take bold steps forward: contacting people she wouldn’t have dared of before, writing, making herself more visible.

Ultimately she found a new job where she felt she had a voice and was encouraged to use it. She had worked out what she wanted from a company and her next role, and what she could bring to it. And her she was. She knew that she could do good work and move on confidently.

If you’d like to book a coaching session with me, contact me at LinkedIn or at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

Career change crossroads

You’re at a crossroads. Deep down you know what you want and need to do. You just need someone else to say it’s ok.

I spoke to a new client called Maira. She’d just left her current job, partly because the situation had changed due to covid and the job wasn’t quite the same. Partly because it wasn’t challenging her anymore, and she didn’t feel as though she was learning and growing. And partly because she and her boyfriend wanted to travel a little, to The Netherlands to spend time with his family, to Brazil to spend time with her family. 

So she was at a happy crossroads, with enough savings to keep her going for a few months without work – but with a few ideas floating around and unsure exactly what to do next in terms of her career.

She had a couple of options – find a job with a company, working remotely, ideally as a community manager. Or set up her own business as an events planner, which is her ultimate dream. 

Ultimately she knew what she had to do – find a decent job where she could work remotely – for now. It doesn’t have to be forever. A job that she finds interesting, maybe challenging, with a decent salary. 

Then a little way down the line, she can start on her own business slowly, on the side. 

As we were talking I could sense her relief in having someone agree with her, and back her ideas. She started to see things much more clearly – the crossroads was morphing into a vision and a plan. 

We discussed how her next job might help in setting up her future business; she’ll learn new things, have new ideas, build up more contacts. She can enjoy a stable income and get started one her own business when the time is right. 

Maira also wanted to talk about a personal project she was thinking of getting started on, which was writing more. She thought writing a blog might be useful. It could be a way to get her thoughts out, and to talk about her career speciality which is building communities. But she could also share her experience of living in a foreign country. She always used to love writing but hadn’t done much of it recently. I thought this was a brilliant idea. 

Starting your own little side project gives such a boost to your confidence and motivation. You’re working on something you’re really excited about, you’re creating, you’re working out how you want to do things. In this instance, you’re learning all sorts of things, like how to set up a website, and you’re refining your writing.

Maira was wondering which audience to write for, in which language (she speaks three), and which topic in particular. I recommended that she just get started. See how it flows, see what comes easily to her, what she enjoys writing about. She could share it with her friends, family and network, and see what feedback comes back. That will inform her direction. And, even better, it could be a really good way of sharing her experience with potential employees and clients. 

They could get to know her through her writing, get a better sense of her personality, read about her experience. She could share the blog on her LinkedIn profile, as this is one of the platforms she is using to find a new role. 

Also – looking for a job can be so hard when you have the whole day to fill. You can easily procrastinate, do a bit of searching then give up, feel guilty, and not know what to do with yourself. Maira had already decided on a routine of spending four hours a day on her career change. A couple of hours to research and apply for jobs, a couple of hours to do online learning courses. She could build writing into her routine, and really enjoy the benefit of having a few different projects to get on with in the morning, each motivating her and moving her on in the right direction, then have the afternoons free. 

For now Maira is going to carry on with the job search – with a targeted approach.  She’ll research companies she likes the look of on LinkedIn. I recommended finding people in community manager roles and see what their experience is, see what they are posting about. Maybe contact them for advice. She’s also going to be even more active on LinkedIn, posting regularly, adding video testimonials of people she’s interviewed to her profile, asking for and writing testimonials, and being as present as possible. 

And she’s going to get started on her new blog. 

But she’s also going to give herself a break to spend time with her family. I think that if you can, that’s one of the best things you can do after leaving a job. Get away, have fun, get some perspective, shed the skin of your former role. You’ll come back refreshed and ready to go.

When she returns at the start of the new year we’ll regroup, see what the progress has been, discover if anything has changed, and move forward from there.

If you’re at a career crossroads and would like my help, contact me. Find me at Linkedin or email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Alex Kalinin on Unsplash

Help your career change by changing your perspective.

My first session with a career coach changed my perspective.

At the time I was feeling stuck, stressed and a bit low. I wanted to change my career (and had wanted to for years) but I felt totally lost as to how to go about it. Any conversations with recruitment specialists just left me feeling uninspired, as they all tried to push me into another similar role. And that was the one thing I knew I didn’t want any more.

In my first coaching session I had to do an exercise where I gave myself a mark out of 10 against various skills, like communicating, negotiating, building relationships. I had to give a score out of 10 for how good I was at the skill, another score out of 10 for how much I enjoyed doing it. 

My head was in such a confused, frustrated place. I wanted to give myself a low score for most of the skills. I just couldn’t see things clearly. All I had to go on was recent experiences using those skills. I didn’t enjoy negotiating, I didn’t enjoy presenting, I didn’t enjoy communicating – everything felt pretty gloomy. I’d lost a lot of confidence.

My coach looked at the list and said to me, Jo, you’re in a sales role. I’m pretty sure you’re good at negotiating, better than you think. You’ve been doing this for ten years!

And going through that process flicked a switch for me. It helped me to look at the situation more objectively.

I realised I was so stuck in the depths of that role, that I was looking back rather than looking forwards. I was bringing all my feelings of frustration and resentment along for the ride.

My perspective was skewed. I could hardly imagine bringing my skills and experience to something different. Rather, I was dwelling on past experiences that hadn’t gone well. I wasn’t yet at the point where I could see that applying those skills in a different context, in a different environment, could be a whole different experience.

That was the beginning of getting unstuck. I really do think that was one of the big turning points in my career change. It was the moment in which I realised my perspective had such an influence on my feelings and how I was going to move forwards.

I’ve recently read about a form of psychotherapy called Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). It helps people to see the relation between their thoughts and feelings and how they can influence your behaviours. This makes so much sense to me. I was in such a negative headspace, repeating negative thoughts to myself. So I was feeling bad. And that makes it so much harder to feel motivated and ready to explore a new path.

I’d definitely recommend finding some books on this subject; on how the mind works, on negative thinking, on changing the way you view things. I remember reading a book called The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters around this time. I found it really useful and interesting.

And if you’d like help with your career change through some coaching sessions, you can contact me at joaopoku@gmail.com or via LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/joannaopoku/

Photo by Matteo Kutufa on Unsplash