Identifying your passionate career

I am often asked by clients and seminar attendees how I changed careers and how I found my passion for financial education and planning. In this article I share some of my story and recommend two resources for identifying your passion.

This week marks the tenth anniversary of my career crisis. I am often asked by clients and seminar attendees how I changed careers and how I found my passion for financial education and planning.

My career crisis lasted much longer than I week. I had been getting progressively more miserable in my career as a petroleum engineer as I cycled through each placement on my graduate program with BHP Billiton Petroleum.

Then my 25th birthday arrived. This was a birthday that during high school had been one about which I had wondered what I would be doing. My life didn’t much resemble the high school fantasy.

My thoughts turned to one of the other future milestones – age 50 when I would have doubled my lifetime. I realised that I had worked with many people around that age who moaned about a lack of fulfillment and enjoyment in their jobs and careers. It suddenly dawned on me that if I continued my current path I would likely become one of those people at age 50.

Then I realised that if at age 50 I was one of those people and was still working in my first career as an engineer then my 50 year old self would want to go back and kick the butt of the 25 year old for not having the guts to do something about it.

That was my catalytic moment!

Finally I acted on the oft-repeated advice of my mentor at the time, Roger Dingle to read the book “What Colour Is Your Parachute?

The job hunter’s and career changer’s bible

What Color is Your Parachute?: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers: 2010What Colour Is Your Parachute?” by Richard Nelson Bolles is a fantastic resource. The first half you read and learn about some fantastic processes for identifying the job of your dreams. The second half of the book is systematic exercises that work through each element of a dream job including industry,  type of work, environment, responsibility, income, geographic location.

To complete the exercises you often start by thinking about what you have enjoyed in your life to date and methodically identify the characteristics that made it enjoyable. It takes time but the investment is worth it.

This is your fulfilling life we are talking about. Invest time now and you reap the rewards over your lifetime.

If you are pondering what career may be your passion then I strongly recommend you buy a copy of this book. Don’t borrow it from the library. Make the investment, write all through it and own the process.

If I had my time over I’d get help

Knowing what I know now I would go much further than the book. I should’ve also enlisted professional help with a career coach or counsellor.

But I was too tight! That ‘s the main reason I didn’t speak to a professional. I was young and didn’t yet appreciate the immense value of professional guidance. The biggest value is intangible but it is there in spades.

The value includes:

  • Enlightenment – discovering what I didn’t realise I needed to consider.
  • Clarity – filtering out the irrelevant and lasering in on what is applicable to my circumstance.
  • Direction – a road map of steps to do next and even resources to access.
  • Timeliness – discovering all of the above much sooner, quicker and easier than if explored on my own. Time is limited for all of us. I love it when others can accelerate my progress to greater success and fulfillment. That reward is immense.

It was tough but the rewards followed

I almost halved my salary when I changed jobs from working as engineer to a paraplanner. Plus I had the extra costs of funding my post-graduate study. Yes, that was hard.

But within two years I was promoted to a role with a salary package that exceed my former engineering package. And I was much happier.

You can do it too

I was able to handle the drop in income because I had been a reasonable saver and had planned ahead. You can do it to.

If you ponder a career change in your future life plan don’t let money be your hand brake. Start planning and saving now to have the financial resources to support you in pursuing your passion and a more fulfilling life.

Pursue your passions and wealth follows.


Discover my other recommended books here and read other book reviews here.

Try to make your passion a business

Today, KPMG partner Bernard Salt is a well known commentator in the media as a perceived expert on demographics, especially in relation to its impact on property.

In his article in The Australian today Bernard Salt shares some of his lessons from his media journey, which started twenty years ago at the age of 32. It may seem glamorous but it has not always been easy and has taken “perseverance” in the face of well meaning advice from other “experts”.

 I strongly believing in identifying, pursuing and profiting from your passions so I recommend you read Salt’s article “Try to make your passion a business“.

(If the direct link has expired you can read the article here.)