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Feeling trapped in a job you don’t like? Discover how to transition into a new career with learnings from people who’ve done it. Working long hours, with no satisfaction? Want to start your own business, but not sure you can? Changing careers or setting up your own business isn’t easy. Let experienced career coach Sarah O’Flaherty show you how others have made the transition. Sarah O’Flaherty has a successful business assisting people to improve their life satisfaction and to work through a career transition. After a twenty-year career in advertising, Sarah is now training to become a Clinical Psychologist. Using her own experience and interviews with others who have made major career changes or established their own businesses, Sarah has created nine landmark questions to get you through a career change in one piece. By answering these questions, you’ll ensure a transition with minimal stress, while maintaining your relationships, your home, and your sanity. Inside Ready For A Career Change?? you’ll discover: How to break down the barriers we face when changing jobs so you can make the best decision for you. How others have changed careers and their key learnings so you can save time and benefit from their experience. The important questions to consider in a career change so you don’t waste your time and energy on something that’s not right for you. The benefits of a career change, such as increased energy and job satisfaction. And much, much more! Ready For A Career Change?? Is packed with straightforward, honest, and practical advice that can be your wake-up call to the life that awaits you in a new career. If you like easy reads that tell it to you straight, then you’ll love having Sarah on your team. Buy Ready For A Career Change?? to help you make the move into an exciting new life today!
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What is it you are seeking? You must be searching for something or you wouldn’t be reading this book. Doesn’t it often seem like there is something just outside your view that you need to find, but you’re not quite sure what it is? You know your life should be different, better, than it is right now, but you’re not quite sure what to change to find a higher level of satisfaction. And, do you know that if you don’t try to find that little niggling sense of ‘there must be something more’, it will never go away? I know, because I tried to ignore that feeling for a long time, and it did not depart.
It might just be that random questions pop into your head every now and then. Questions like, why haven’t I found contentment yet? Or, isn’t life meant to be a bit more interesting and exciting than this? Why am I putting up with hour-long commutes, and this prison-style culture of nine-to-five office life? If you think and feel that you’re missing out on something, then it’s very likely that you are. But what is it? What is the enigmatic something that we’re all craving?
I believe it’s related to our development or evolution as a human being. We are all unique and we all have our own specific reason for being on this wonderful planet. Unfortunately, for so many of us, we haven’t yet found our purpose, our meaning. My concern, and the reason why I’ve written this book, is that there are far too many of us who aren’t even trying to find it. What is stopping you? Fear, worry that change will make things worse not better, or just complacency? Unless we find our own unique purpose and the amazing value we must offer others, we may be nothing more than cogs in the industrial machine – keeping the dollars flowing in for others and not really doing much to make the world a better place.
Take a moment to think about what you do for work. Do you consider it ‘right’ work? Is it making a positive impact on the world, and are you making the world a better place, or are you adding to the negativity and environmental damage that is growing around us? You may believe that what you do doesn’t make any difference in a world that’s so full of people, but what each and every one of us does makes a huge difference – you included. If you haven’t taken a moment to think about what you do for work, then do it now. It’s worth a few moments of contemplation.
It’s in these times of change – and things are changing rapidly right now – that we are provided with the greatest opportunities to find our own true bliss, our own unique and original purpose. There are many examples of people who are doing just that – finding their own unique reason for being in the world and building their dream life.
I set out to find some of these amazing individuals, to uncover their journeys of courage, and to share their stories so you know you can do it too. These are not celebrities, or the lucky few who have made it big on a large scale, these are ordinary folk who are making a positive difference in the world in their own way, and who are living their dream lives. Some examples of the stories included in this book are a publicist turned reiki teacher, a model turned youth role model and trainer, and an advertising exec turned coaching entrepreneur. I hope these examples, being more down-to-earth, will help you see that if they can do it, you can too.
My own journey has been an interesting adventure that I’ll share briefly before we hear from some of the inspiring individuals I’ve mentioned above. I only share my story to give you some perspective on the changes I’ve been through to get to where I am now. I also think it’s helpful to know that life doesn’t always follow a clear and obvious path – it sometimes takes us down some very rocky roads before we get to a place of peace and contentment. And it’s important to be open-minded about where we are heading, as it may be very different to what we expected to find when we set out on our journey.
Let’s start from the beginning. I’m from a small town in New Zealand (NZ) and was brought up in an ordinary, middle-class family. I would say that I had a reasonably sheltered upbringing, living on a farm near a small rural town. I had a happy, stable childhood that was rather unexceptional. Both my parents went to university and I was expected to do the same. My father was a veterinarian and my mother a primary school teacher. There was initially an expectation that I would become a vet like my father. However, luckily, my lack of interest in that area and my inability to handle the sight of blood meant that particular option came off the table very quickly.
As a young girl I dreamed of becoming an international businesswoman – travelling the world, dressing in stylish suits, and earning lots of money. Where that idea came from I’ll never know. Possibly from TV shows or magazines, because I didn’t know what it meant to be an international businesswoman except that I thought it would mean lots of travel and getting to dress rather glamorously.
I’ve always had and continue to have a desire to travel and explore. Therefore, the travel part of my early dreaming was pretty spot on. The business part was also not bad for a very naïve guess – I’ve always had an interest in business and an entrepreneurial spirit. And even now, while studying, I’ve been running my own business and helping others to establish theirs. So although my early dreaming meant that I went to university and completed a business degree with a focus on international management, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I hadn’t really got clear on what was important for me personally and what I wanted or needed in the longer term.
I started out working in marketing for a large corporation in NZ, and after only a couple of years shifted into the much more exciting world of advertising. I loved this new world I’d joined – I loved the energy, the creativity, the people – it was fun, fast-paced, and exciting. However, I hadn’t thought about it too much before taking the leap. I’d just thought, this feels good, and started climbing my way up the corporate ladder. At the time, as with many young people, I would say that I wasn’t totally clear on what my values were or what was important to me. I made my decision based on the challenge of the work, the wonderful environments I got to work in, and the intelligent, sparky people I was lucky enough to work with. All good reasons at the time, but I didn’t account for other things. My generally introverted personality was bombarded with an assortment of human interactions all day, and then I was often required to entertain clients in the evening. And what about my values? At no time did I think, is this job doing good for the world or am I perhaps having a negative impact on people’s lives?
Over time the industry changed, becoming more and more money orientated and less and less creatively driven. Eventually, it got to the point where everyone wanted wonderful work for zero dollars. I found the money versus output focus of the industry demoralizing and frustrating. Most of all, as I became increasingly anti-consumerism, selling products to people who didn’t need them didn’t sit at all well with my values. It took many difficult and stressful situations, finally culminating in a slipped disc in my neck, to force me to pull the pin on a career that had taken me all over the world and pretty high up the corporate food chain.
By that stage I’d known for quite some time that I wasn’t following my bliss. You might well ask why I was still working in a career that clearly didn’t suit me anymore. Well, let’s be honest, it was partly the money. I was being paid very well to do a job that I knew inside-out, and at the time, I didn’t know what else to do with myself. I wasn’t one of the lucky ones who’d stumbled upon their bliss early in life – who’d found their purpose in their first career choice.
Being an avid Joseph Campbell fan, the man who coined the term finding your bliss, I’d always dreamed of finding my bliss, and eventually I knew it was time to go on my own ‘hero’s journey’ to find out why I had been put on this earth. I talk more about the hero’s journey shortly, but for now let me just say, as with the hero’s journey, once I’d decided to follow the call to adventure I was tempted by offers that could easily have distracted me from my mission to find my true purpose and more energised way of living.
I resigned from my job, by this stage I was working in Thailand in a regional role, after deciding to take a year off to travel. It was then that I was offered my dream job – a chance to go to Peru to work for six months to a year. Wow, how amazing. Peru was the one place in the world I’d been dying to visit – the idea of trekking up to Machu Picchu was a dream come true. As you can imagine, it was very tempting and I nearly got sucked back into the void.
But then I stopped and thought about it. I knew that I no longer wanted to work in advertising, and I knew that even the enticement of what appeared to be the best job in the world wasn’t worth it. If I really thought about it, I knew that I could go to Peru any time from anywhere in the world and be there on my terms. I didn’t have to take up the offer to go there in a company role - so I declined. I packed up my life in Thailand, shipped it home to New Zealand, and went off to Bali for the start of my year of adventure travelling around Asia.
The next year was wonderful. It was one of the best years of my life, and I wondered frequently during that time why I hadn’t taken a year off from work earlier. It was that year of travel that allowed me to find my true bliss.
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.”
Joseph Campbell is one of my heroes. His writing is vast and covers a wide range of human experiences. If you get a chance, I highly recommend taking the time to read one of his many books. He is the creator of the term ‘finding your bliss’, and he established the famous ‘hero’s journey’. In case you aren’t aware of what the hero’s journey is, let me provide you with a brief overview. And, please note, where I write ‘hero’ I am talking about a male or female hero. ‘Heroine’ seems like such an old-fashioned word to me, and using hero keeps things simple. I like simple. I’m going to use ‘her’ for the hero’s journey segment, but feel free to replace that term with whatever is appropriate for your gender.
Campbell studied mythology and symbology for many years. His interest began when he spent about four years reading in a cabin in the woods during the Great Depression. It was during that time that he identified some common themes running through the hero myths and legends from around the world. He identified a set of stages that a hero must go through on his journey, on his own unique quest. Interestingly, these stages are the same no matter in what country the story originates.
Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey has been the inspiration for many famous writers and film-makers. George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, said that The Hero’s Journey was the inspiration for his famous movies. It can be speculated that it is because George Lucas used such a time-honored structure that his films worked so well and became so iconic and globally popular. As we walk through each of these stages, see if you can identify how they relate to you.
The journey begins in what is considered the ordinary world, the world we currently operate in, the generally uneventful world of routine day-to-day living. The hero may be considered a bit unusual or odd by those operating within the norms of society. Additionally, the hero often possesses some ability or characteristic that may make her special and different, but may also make her feel out of place. A good example is Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, in Kansas before the cyclone strikes – she is alone, perhaps a bit isolated, and feeling out of place in her world, where she doesn’t seem to quite fit in.
The next stage is when our hero receives a call to adventure, and is called away from the ordinary world to begin their quest. The hero may initially show some reluctance to leave their home, friends, and family to head away, but usually they will accept the quest that is their destiny. The hero may happen upon their quest by accident, or may be called to the quest to save their world.
The quest takes place in another world, which Campbell describes as a “fateful region of both treasure and danger…a distant land, a forest, a kingdom underground, beneath the waves, or above the sky, a secret island, lofty mountaintop, or profound dream state…a place of strangely fluid and polymorphous beings, unimaginable torments, superhuman deeds, and impossible delight.” This description appears to cover many magical realms. It reminds me of the magical world Alice discovers in the story of Alice in Wonderland.
Next there is the refusal of the quest or the challenge to the quest. This stage occurs when the hero is called to adventure and given a task or quest that only they can complete. At this stage, they do have a choice – they can accept the quest or deny it. Although this may seem like a simple matter when looked at superficially, it is not as clear-cut as you might imagine. The hero may be tempted by another offer, or possibly a reward to stay at home, or they may decide that they don’t want to accept their destiny. Remember the temptation I had to go to Peru rather than heed my call to adventure.
Unfortunately, for those heroes who decide that they do not, for whatever reason, want to accept their destiny, the future is not a rosy one. These individuals generally end up being the characters in need of rescuing or may even end up as the villain in a future tale.
Let me interrupt the story for just a moment, and ask you, does this remind you of anyone? Do you know of people who have been offered an amazing opportunity that required considerable life changes but also offered huge opportunity for growth, who were not brave enough to take the opportunity when it was presented, and ended up becoming bitter and frustrated? For those accepting the call, sometimes it is a matter of the call having to be presented a number of times until it is finally accepted.
As the hero embarks on her journey she enters the world of the unknown, a world that may be filled with supernatural creatures, spectacular vistas, adventures, and dangers. This new world will have a set of rules that are different from the hero’s home world. The hero learns these rules as she progresses on the journey. This is the start of her learning process, which continues through the entire quest experience.
It is at this ‘point of entry’ into the new world that the hero is likely to meet their mentor. This stage has also been interpreted to mean that the hero will receive some form of supernatural assistance before beginning their quest. The mentor has already mastered the new world and can provide the hero with confidence, insights, advice, training, and sometimes magical gifts that may overcome future challenges. The mentor shares his experience and knowledge so the hero is not rushing blindly into the new world. The mentor often provides a gift or some form of wisdom that is required for the quest to be completed. To quote Campbell himself, “One has only to know and trust, and the ageless guardians will appear.” A good example of the mentor archetype is Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.
The next step is crossing the threshold, where the hero commits to the journey. The hero is now ready to cross the gateway that separates the ordinary world from the world of the quest. The crossing may require the acceptance of one’s fears, a map of the journey, or perhaps an incentive offered by someone else. The hero must confront an event that forces her to commit to entering the new world. At this point, there is no turning back. The event will directly affect the hero, raising the stakes and forcing some action. The event may be an outside force, such as the abduction of someone close to the hero that pushes her ahead. Or there may be a chase that pushes the hero to the brink, forcing her to move forward and commit fully to the quest.
After crossing the threshold, the hero faces tests, encounters allies, confronts enemies, and learns the rules of the special new world she has entered. This is the introduction to the new world, and we can see how it contrasts with the ordinary world the hero has come from. It is at this stage in the journey that the hero determines who can be trusted. A sidekick may be found, or even a full hero team developed. Enemies reveal themselves, and a rival to the hero’s goal may emerge. The hero must begin to prepare herself for the greater ordeals to come, and so tests her skills, and, if possible, receives further training from the mentor.
The hero must then approach the innermost cave that leads to the journey’s heart or the central ordeal of the quest. Maps are reviewed, attacks planned, and the enemy’s forces whittled down before the hero can face her greatest fear or the supreme danger that is lurking. The approach offers a chance of a break for the hero and her team before the final ordeal. The team may need to regroup, remember the dead, and rekindle morale. At this point in the journey time may be running out, or the stakes may rise.
The hero reaches the ordeal, the central life-or-death crisis during which she faces her greatest fear and confronts her most difficult challenge. She may experience a form of ‘death’. She may teeter on the brink of failure, and we may wonder if our hero will survive. It is only through ‘death’ that the hero can be reborn, experiencing a resurrection that offers greater powers or insight to see the journey through to the end. This is often the ultimate battle of good versus evil.
Once the hero has survived death and overcome her greatest fear or fears she will earn the reward she has been seeking. The reward may come in many forms – it may be a magical weapon, a secret potion, knowledge or wisdom, or the return of relationships lost. No matter what the treasure, the hero has earned the right to celebrate. The celebration gives the hero a new burst of energy.
Next, the hero must recommit to finishing the journey and taking the road back to the ordinary world. The hero’s success in the other world may make it difficult for the hero to return home. Like crossing the threshold, the return home may require a special event or something that pushes the hero back toward home. This event may re-establish the central dramatic question, pushing the hero to action and raising the stakes. As with any strong turning point, the action that galvanizes the road back may very well change the direction of the story.
The hero then faces the resurrection, another dangerous meeting with death. This is the final life-and-death ordeal that shows that the hero has learnt and maintained what she needs to bring back with her to the ordinary world. This is a final ‘cleansing’ or ‘purification’ that must occur now that the hero has emerged from the other world. The hero is reborn or transformed with the addition of the lessons and insights learned from her journey.
Once the hero has been resurrected, she has earned the right to returnwiththe elixir to the ordinary world. The elixir can be a great treasure or magic potion, it could be love, wisdom, or simply the experience of surviving the other world. The hero may share the benefit of the elixir, using it to heal a physical or emotional wound, or to accomplish tasks that had previously been considered impossible in the ordinary world. The return signals a time when rewards and punishments are dished out, and the end of the journey is celebrated. The return with the elixir generally brings closure to the story and balance to the world. The hero can embark on a new life knowing she has survived the trials of her journey.
“All the world’s a stage. And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.”
William Shakespeare (As You Like It)
Throughout the journey there are many archetypes or roles that characters play. You can consider each archetype as a mask that a character wears in a scene. Sometimes the character may wear the same mask throughout the story. However, as with life, each character may play many roles throughout the journey and represent different archetypes. The key archetypes are listed below:Hero – to serve and sacrificeMentor – to guideThreshold Guardian – to testHerald – to warn and challengeShapeshifter – to question and deceiveShadow – to destroyTrickster – to disruptAllies – to offer support
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