Are you stuck in a rut at work? Do you dream of giving up office life to run your own business from exotic climes? One person who has done just that is transformational coach, Lucia Labouchere, who gave up a high-flying job in the City to run a coaching business in the heart of Africa. Read her incredible story and find out how you too can find your dream job and do it from anywhere in the world.
1) Can you tell me what drove you to change your life completely from being an office worker in London to becoming a transformational coach based in Malawi?
It was January 19th 2009 – the day before Barak Obama was inaugurated – do you remember? I was exhausted, I had been suffering from migraines through 2007 and 2008 and spending a lot of time and money on fixing them and I was no longer excited by my job or my life – Monday mornings, putting on a suit was becoming almost impossible. And I knew there, that particular Monday morning, that there had to be more out there, something better and I decided I was going to find out what that was.
The decision to leave was the first step. The decision, made in my head, like that. On lunch break of that day, on Moorgate – I was walking up the road and I said out loud to myself that is it, I am going to change my life, I am going to do something different, something that has greater meaning and something I love. For me the next step was to call the only person I knew who was doing something different – all my other friends were on the same path – I called her and said I’m coming to visit. She lived in Malawi. And that really was the beginning.
If I am honest I had been feeling this way since I joined the City as a graduate but I didn’t feel I had a choice and the money was fantastic and I was quite ‘successful’ at what I was doing – in that I was making money for the company.
In 2008, I took a sabbatical for 2 months to go to Argentina and my company allowed me to come back – the companies I worked for were always surprisingly supportive. I have discovered that so many people would like to do what I have done, even managers and leaders of organisations and they really respect it when you are honest and brave, it is amazing what they can offer when you ask for what you want (I took my City job down to 3 days a week initially whilst I studied and made plans for my next steps).
I am still in touch with those organisations today and bizarrely an ex-colleague has linked me to an organisation that I might do some work for in Africa. So, as much as I have changed my life completely I feel as though I have almost done a complete circle in that I might end up doing some work for organisations based in the City and elsewhere in the world, but coming at it entirely on my terms with my skill set crystal clear and confident.
It’s funny how things works out and every single skill I have picked up and enjoyed using over the last 13 years has been worth it from my head-hunting days, through international development to my own business. Each one of those skills is useful today and can add value to a client. We can think what we have been doing is not so useful but I tell you, you will have the perfect skill set for your ideal role!
2) What do you enjoy most about your current lifestyle compared to your former life working in the City?
The flexibility of it, the freedom. I choose when I work. I generally work from 0830-1230 and then another hour or 2 in the afternoon. I do all my coaching in the morning.
I love the fact that I can do many things – I also run a donkey project here in the community and I have 6 of my own. I like to fit exercise in to my day and I can do that too – at 8 months pregnant, this is now walking with a few stretches!! Still… it is there and extremely important to my happiness – I have always loved getting outside and thinking whilst walking/ running/ biking/ hiking…
I travel quite a lot – I think we counted 36 flights in the last 8 months – since I have been pregnant. This is something that before was more difficult – yes, I would like to go to Zanzibar for the weekend, Yes I will pop to a friend’s wedding in Cape Town, Yes to Christmas in the UK and New Year in Rome with a trip to Turin in between. I feel much more able to say yes and then plan my work schedule around that. There is internet everywhere now so I can work from where ever I like. And this approach gives so much to my clients, they see me doing it and they think, why not?
3) What advice would you give to office workers who currently feel stuck in a job they don’t enjoy?
Step 1: I would say first step is to make the decision, say ‘right, I am going to change this’ and that is enough. Step one. Write it down – make it real. You don’t need to know anything more than that right now – just that you are going to change.
Step 2: write down everything you love to do in life and work and everything you don’t like, challenge yourself to do at least 3 of the things you love daily and to see if you can outsource/ somehow not do 3 things you don’t like doing but have found yourself tied to
Step 3: Ask yourself what is important to you in your career and life – answer with one word answers to start and then think what you really mean by them. Get clear on what you want.
Step 4: What is stopping you? Why are you not already in that job/life? Once you know what is stopping you, get support, make a plan to over come it – your desire to have your ideal career/life must be greater than the fears you have. Everyone has their fears, so you are not alone – what makes the difference is how you respond to them, don’t let them hold you back so make a plan to overcome them, bypass them.
Step 5: What are your options? Brainstorm them. Go wild, get creative – what did you want to be when you were younger? What do you believe in? What would you fight for? What career and lifestyle are you truly after? Which organisations do you love? Who do greatly admire and what do they do?
Step 6: Begin to plan and take a first step. It doesn’t matter how small – it might be, go to a meet-up, sign up to a course, get in touch with a coach, plan a holiday, take a different route home from work… Any step counts and then keep taking them. It also helps to have someone to whom you are accountable. Go, start now… what is your first step?
4) What is the first step we can take to identify our dream job?
Step number one, as above is to decide that what you have at the moment is not good enough. Decide right now, in this moment, to change that. I encourage you to take a pen as you are reading this and to write down a statement and say it out loud. ‘I want more, I want something different from my career’. And if you can, give yourself a deadline e.g. by December 2016. Decide. You don’t need to know what or how right now you just need to know you are going to make a change. Did you write it down somewhere…? Really, that makes the difference.
Then I would say get clear on what you want and get support – there are so many different kinds of support available these days and you don’t have to do it alone so reach out!
5) What’s the number one thing that stops us finding our dream job and how can we overcome this?
I actually think the number one thing that stops people making a career change is the fact that they are reluctant to invest in themselves to make it happen. This is usually to do with self worth and what they have learnt is acceptable to invest in. Tens and hundreds of thousands of pounds into a house and yet to invest a fraction of that into their future plans and what will make them fulfilled and happy… for ever… there is some kind of reluctance. Americans I generally find are more open than us Brits on this – it is changing but really, what is the value of getting the right professional support that catapults you into a career and life that ticks all your boxes, especially if you have been stuck for a while and it isn’t happening on your own?
It is pretty priceless!
I think otherwise it is the various fears that we have, all of us – I think we would be fairly inhuman if we didn’t have fears and doubts. Each person has different ones but generally they include the following:
I am afraid I can’t get a job in that as I have no experience
I am afraid that I can’t earn as much doing that and I have a family to support or want to have a family in the future
What if I fail?
What will my friends and family think of me?
What skills do I have to do that?
I don’t have enough time to do the work
I don’t have enough money…
I guess I am lucky in many ways – life isn’t too bad… (this is absolutely not good enough, every one of us deserves to have a spectacular life and have everything we want)
Here it is a case of bringing yourself into reality and seeing that your desire to move/ change career is greater than the fears you have, also seeing that others have done it, so work through the fears so that they are manageable and do not stop you.
6) What are the greatest career transformations that you have witnessed to date?
Oh my goodness so many,
Banker -> Journalist
Marketing manager -> Mini Adventurer and coach
Marketing for a Tech Firm -> Fashion house
Investment Analyst -> Entrepreneur
Global head of an Insurance firm -> Career Development Specialist (own company)
Psychiatrist -> Neo-natal specialist, changed locations
Executive Assistant -> Nurse and International Development specialist
Recruitment consultant -> HR manager of a super funky tech firm
Senior project manager -> travelling the world and seeking opportunities on the road in renewable energy
Advertising Specialist -> Travel Writer
Politics PhD student -> labour councillor and campaign manager
You can read some of the stories from the client point of view on my website lucialabouchere.com (it has recently been experiencing problems due to a virus – if the site is down when you try to check, I thank you for you patience and either email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org or try again in a few days
7) What help can you offer to office workers who want to make a career
change in 2016?
If what I am saying is resonating with you and you know it is time for a change, and you would like to know more about working with me to achieve whatever it is you want, I would be delighted to talk to you. I offer a limited number of spaces per week for a 30 – 60 minute complimentary consultation to see whether we are a good fit – so to book yours please email me directly on email@example.com and let me know your availability. I much look forward to hearing from you!