Who decides the rules you should play by, and which path you should choose? Priorities and preferences change as we grow and evolve. I can help you untangle your own goals from society’s expectations on you, and together we can work on building the life you want to live.
When asked, I usually say that I haven’t had a real career. I was very much trained in the traditional ’Education-Education-Get a good job-Climb the corporate ladder-Retire’ way of thinking. I’ve gone to some very good schools. I’ve had some very good jobs. But I’ve never been attracted to job titles, or chased bigger pay checks, the way I was trained to.
What I’ve learned
- Priorities shift. We have the right to re-evaluate your choices and choose a different path when we feel the pull.
- ’Planned Happenstance’ – to make yourself open to the opportunities you do not yet know exist. Many of my career changes and job possibilities presented themselves in curios ways.
- You have the ability to create the life you want to live. Listen inwards. Honour what is important to you.
Looking back at my 20 years of work, I might not have had a traditional career, but themes do emerge, showing how I’ve shifted my working life around my changing goals during my professional life:
I got a job doing corporate finance in New York straight out of university. This was an amazing win for me. This was exactly what I wanted to do. I got to move to New York; I got to work for a large, global bank; I got to travel; and I earned a lot of money. Working at Wall Street is gruelling though. It’s like a machine that chews people up. It was during those years that I lost all interest in a traditional, corporate career. I was so scarred from that experience, that my only goal from then on, was to never have a job like that again.
My goal after working 100-hour weeks in New York was two-fold: To find a job with clearer boundaries between work and non-work, and to get back into economics. I wanted something that was simple and clearcut. I found just what I was looking for in London, finding an analyst firm where I could write on interest rates and currencies. I really enjoy that, and I really enjoyed getting to know London, having weekends and evenings free.
As much as I enjoyed working in the City (the financial district of London), I had a travel bug that I couldn’t quite satisfy on my 5 weeks of annual leave. But the opportunity presented itself to join a newly started analytical firm without an office base. Back in 2005, the idea of being a ’digital nomad’ or even working remotely, were quite new concepts. I didn’t know anyone else working from home at that point, and working while travelling required a lot of creativity and exploration to find stable internet and god wifi. But I loved the freedom, even though I was required to work European hours regardless of where I was in the world. So for 5 years I had London as a base while getting around as much as I could. With my laptop I went to the US, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Morocco, Australia (doing UK hours out of Sydney was a killer), Hong Kong, Sweden, Denmark and Spain.
After 10 years of doing financial and economic analysis of various kinds, I was kind of tired of all the writing and all the opinions. I wanted to do something where I had more of an impact. And I was curious about the start-up world. Through some rather ingenious serendipity, I came to work with a handful of companies in the London digital start-up scene. This was so much fun! I was back in an office, working with teams and experiencing that whole dynamic of working together towards a goal. I also really enjoyed the variety of tasks and roles you play in a small company. There were strategy work, team building, accounting, fund raising, conferences, networking, project planning, etc, etc. Having previously felt very much like an observer and commentator of market events, I was now getting my hands dirty in the day-to-day business of running a company. Despite all the joy, this was also the period of my burnout, which resulted in having to set myself some stricter boundaries around my mental engagement in the projects I worked on.
After 6 years of start-up life, priorities shifted with the arrival of my son. Workweeks now seemed too long and I longed for the countryside and a different rhythm to everyday life. This led to the move to southern Sweden and life as a freelancer. I discovered that the kind of work I was planning on didn’t come as easy as I had hoped, with my network being London-based, but it flowed and I got by. These years gave me time for reflection. I had another baby and could take much more maternity leave than I did with my firstborn. This was also the period when I became a yoga teacher and went back to university to do a career counselling course. For the past year, I’ve mainly been working for two UK-based digital firms, giving me a nice balance of curious and challenging work, with a the flexibility I crave.