New Day, New Page…

I was, going to write a simple post on how I’d finally managed to select a suitable ‘Playbook’ to use for Ignition but, in the words of Carrie Bradshaw, ‘I got to thinking’ …about the symbolism of a blank page when approaching the subject of career change, then this famous quote popped into my head:

‘At any given moment you have the power to say:

This is NOT how the story is

going to end…’

I’m very grateful that I possess a deep, eternal optimism which enables me to truly believe and subscribe to the ‘Screw Work Let’s Play’ philosophy. Some may say I have the odds stacked against me:

  • I don’t have a degree and my highest level of qualification is an HEFC Diploma (3 A Levels).
  • I’m over 30.
  • I have a chequered career history with lots of changes in direction, compounded by an 18 month gap whilst undergoing surgery and recovering from an accident.
  • I can’t sing or dance…

Luckily, I don’t agree and refuse to accept an average work-life or any kind of life for that matter. When I consider my options I still see a blank canvas. My only problem, at this stage, is I can’t quite visualise the finished picture.

That’s where my new Playbook comes in. One of the first steps, John William’s recommends, in Ignition and the original book is to get a Playbook: to record all of your thoughts and ideas as you work through the programme. Intended to bring you closer to doing what you love by capturing everything that pops into your head from notes on things you enjoy doing, right through to that multi-million pound idea which comes to you in the middle of the weekly supermarket shop!

So, here it is.

I must admit, I experienced some difficulty in choosing my Playbook as John suggests buying a book you really love and enjoy writing in. I like this book but I don’t love it. However, in the name of progress (I have been searching for a book since I first read Screw Work Let’s Play, over 6 months ago!), I have acknowledged this about myself and put it down to the ‘seeker‘ archetype being dominant in my personality – believing there is always something more or something better out there – and I’ve compromised on a book which I am growing to love 🙂 …and herein starts the next chapter!


Image: Happiness is a Lifestyle



So, I have been missing in action for a little while…

I made, probably, one of the biggest mistakes in blogging and let my busy life get in the way of maintaining and updating my blog. However, as I’m still in the very early days of my blog, I doubt anybody really noticed I was gone. Did you notice?

Anyway, I’m back to start the New Year with renewed vigour and fresh motivation to really see this ‘Screw Work Let’s Play’ thing through to fruition!

A couple of weeks ago, after much deliberation, I signed up to Ignition, the multimedia career development programme, a follow-up to John William’s original book Screw Work Let’s Play. So, I will continue to tell the story of my career, via this blog, in conjunction with working through the Ignition programme: giving my feedback and real time review of this promising new programme. My decision to purchase Ignition was no doubt helped along by my alphabetti spaghetti picture being featured in it but, considering I was so inspired by the original book; I have high hopes for this follow-up career development tool! 😉

I have mentally decided that my return to blogging is going to involve more activity with shorter more regular blog updates, which will hopefully provide a greater insight into how my journey towards a more fulfilling career is progressing. I have been guilty of wanting to make each and every post a finely crafted piece of literature which makes keeping it fresh and up to date almost impossible: It’s not often I have the time to sit down and produce such an in-depth post. There will be times when I want to talk about a subject in detail and in turn when a subject deserves a more in-depth post but, I will also intersperse these longer posts with shorter insights and updates, as and when they happen.

Although I have been away from the blogosphere, my journey has been continuing and the ‘being away’ itself has been a very interesting learning experience, all of which I think has been a necessary step in moving towards more fulfilling work. For a short period, although I was supposed to be contracting and keeping my life as ‘free’ as possible, I fell into a couple of traps, which I will talk more about later, namely in no particular order:

– the ‘job trap’

– the ‘money trap’


– the ‘lack of confidence in your ability and what you should be charging trap’!

Not to mention,

– the ‘taking my eye off all my other balls trap’!

We live and learn.

If Jamie Can Do it…

I am working on a post on Personality Tests, I promise. I have so much to say on this subject – it’s taking forever!

Meanwhile, I just wanted to take a moment to wish my friend Ricky @ Good Luck with his new venture!

A couple of weeks ago, I suggested Ricky read Screw Work Let’s Play by John Williams which, in turn, inspired him to start writing his own blog.

Over the past few years, Ricky has lost over 90lbs in weight by following an ancestral health and fitness plan. He plans to share his story and help others ditch some of the junk they consume and ditch some of the ‘junk in the trunk’, in an effort to get the nation feeling fitter and healthier.

He is an excerpt from Ricky’s ‘Manifesto’:

“This is my space to explore a little more into what I’m going to refer to as ancestral health and fitness. I’m describing it as ancestral as it is the ‘Paleo diet” that brought me here. I like Paleo. It’s a quick and easy way to reference my standpoint although it has become almost a buzzword. We aren’t cavemen or hunter gatherers by any stretch of the imagination anymore. I, for instance spend my day surrounded by flashing computers and shiny metal walls (although I do hear the occasional Ugh vocalised) and what daylight I do see is through expensive, well designed glass. That’s not to say that it isn’t relevant. I just don’t want this space to be based around one movement or one lifestyle. We have moved on, we have utilised the 80/20 rule (see Mark Sisson’s awesome site to delve into this), it isn’t a perfect world but by looking back at our ancestral roots I really do believe that we can improve our health, our fitness and our relationship with our environment.”

I urge you to check out his amazing story

I’m looking forward to watching his journey unfold (…and getting a few ideas about what to take to work in my packed lunch 😉

Big Love x

University… to go, or not to go…

Northumbria University City Campus

Too late was the cry!

I should, had I followed my plan for 2012, be over four weeks in to a degree in Human BioSciences at Northumbria University but, after writing a winning personal statement and putting myself through an intensive HEFC Diploma, I changed my mind. The question is, was that the right decision?

Everything I wrote in my personal statement is true. However, what I don’t believe to be true is the romantic idea that going back to university would magically lead me into a fulfilling career.

As a mature student, who didn’t go to university the first time around, I’ve often felt I missed out. However, what I think I actually missed out on is the hedonistic aspects of going to university. Second time around, there are numerous factors which need to be considered before embarking on a return to education.

It is true, there are many mature students enrolled on courses at universities throughout the UK but they are still a minority. Most will go on to have very rewarding careers but, their time at university will be quite different to how it might have been had they gone as a carefree 19-year-old.

I would be 37 when I finished my degree and would leave a novice, my scientific knowledge would be improved but I’d be unable to get a job as anything other than a medical laboratory assistant (MLA) without specialising and going on to do a MSc and ultimately a PhD. I dread to think just how many thousands of pounds that little lot would equate to? Plus, even after I’d completed this marathon educational adventure I’d be up against younger, more experienced scientists.

Simon Dolan, author of ‘How to Make a Million without a Degree’ reports, “Nearly 1 in 11 graduates are still unemployed six months after leaving university – the highest proportion for nearly 17 years, according to a  2011 poll by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit charity 2011 figures.”

Who knows, had I gone to university the first time around I could be an extraordinary neurosurgeon by now but, for the moment, I’m going to save myself a fortune and a considerable amount of stress by following the path mapped out by Richard Branson, Simon Dolan and other great entrepreneurs – giving university life a wide-berth!

I will talk more about this in my next post but, my decision to go to university was based almost entirely on the results of a Myers Briggs Personality Test…

Anyway, for any young whipper-snappers out there, with time on their hands, who want to get in to university. Here is an example of a winning personal statement:

I aspire to make examining the link between nutrition and disease my lifetime’s work. From the moment I looked at my first cell under the microscope I have been fascinated by human biology. I am particularly interested in the science of nutrition, the effect it has on the human body and the manifestation of disease. If my application is successful I look forward to broadening my scientific understanding of the biology of the human body and subsequently specialising in clinical nutrition. I am hugely passionate about this subject and have read many books on how the human body functions, specifically relating to nutrition, including; The Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford, Liver Detox by Patrick Holford, The Truth About Food by Jill Fullerton-Smith, Metabolic Typing by William L Wolcott & Trish Fahey and The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain to name but a few. In addition, I attended a series of seminars on Nutritional Therapy with the Nutritional Healing Foundation which increased my knowledge of anatomy and physiology along with building upon my understanding of how food and other environmental factors can influence homeostasis. I also relate this knowledge to my personal life and have experienced first hand how what we eat and drink can directly affect health. Most importantly, after my father was diagnosed with bowel cancer, I used my extensive knowledge and additional Internet research to help him make some positive lifestyle changes, resulting in a dramatic improvement of the management of his symptoms. It is the science behind how nutrition affects the course of disease that I find most intriguing. Being involved first-hand in scientific research into some of the major diseases, such as cancer and type II diabetes, would enable me to realise my ambition. I am a 33-year-old, mature student and have had a very successful career in the advertising industry, spanning over 12 years. Having worked my way up from an admin position to Account Director, a role that required a great deal of responsibility and organisation. Over the past two years, I re-trained as a beautician and started my own mobile beauty business, allowing me to work around my studies. Although I found this work enjoyable I have had a long-standing desire to return to education and obtain the necessary qualifications to make working in a scientific field a possibility. After extensive research, including the Myers Briggs Personality Test (INTP) and the Stamford Test, I am confident that I have the commitment, desire and required skills to fully embrace the challenging course of study I have chosen, Human Biosciences BSc. My brother-in-law has been a great source of inspiration. He has an Msc in Haematology and works as a Biomedical Scientist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead. Some of his research was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology. He has given me an excellent insight into working in a laboratory and will continue to be a great source of support and an excellent sounding board. I am currently enrolled on the HEFC Diploma (Health & Social Science Pathway), the first step on my journey, which will prepare me for the university experience and provide the required number of credits.

Openness…Easier said than done!

Completely coincidentally, my previous two posts on how I would spend my year of freedom combined to create a list of 12 items. You may think I did this intentionally to give me one item per month. I didn’t. It was purely coincidence but, as I do like to mix things up a bit, I’m going to add one more thing to the list for good measure. Well actually, this one is lots of things all rolled into one. In simple terms I’m going to teach myself how to do the yoga move pictured above, often referred to as ‘camel pose’. Purely based on my currently level of flexibility, this item may be the hardest of all to achieve.

In more complicated terms, this move signifies complete openness in mind and body and is a principle I plan to apply to all aspects of my life.

I will be more open with myself and others about what I want and what I don’t want and, in doing so, I will have to make some hard decisions but, ultimately I will remain true to what I set out to achieve.

Being open in all areas of your life takes courage…

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage” Anais Nin

Working out what I really want… Part 1

The first stage of getting paid for doing what you love is, of course, working out what you love…

One of the first exercises, in the Screw Work Let’s Play book, suggests imagining you’ve been given 12 months off work, with all the money you need, to do exactly as you wish. How would you spend a year of total freedom?

I think the key to this task is not to think too much about jobs and careers. Just try to catch exactly what your heart desires before your inner-voice steps in and starts shouting things like “that’s ridiculous” or “how is doing that ever going to translate into actually paying the mortgage?!”.

Scribble your little heart out… Notice how you feel. Do any of your ideas scare you?

Anyway, back to me. I have to admit that the perfectionist in me feels compelled to produce a finely executed list of everything I want and everything I love doing but, Rome wasn’t built in a day. So, I’m going to break from the old routine and in an out of character experiment chuck everything out there and refine later.

Here is the raw, unedited version of how I would spend my hypothetical year off (Part 1):

1. Italy
I would travel to Italy; take cookery classes in Sicily, sample the finest organic olive oil – maybe even try my hand at making it or stomping grapes to create an award winning red wine.

I would drink good coffee and visit local food markets & delicatessens whilst taking in some of the grand architecture and historic monuments.

2. China
I would visit China and spend some quiet, reflective time up in the misty Huangshan Mountains amongst the pine trees.

3. India
I would experience the colour and vibrancy of India, embracing my spiritual side and learning how to practice Yoga.

I would take photographs, write about my experiences and sample freshly grown Coriander before it even gets within sniffing distance of a supermarket packet.

4. Whale Watching
I would go whale watching. Seeing these animals in the wild, in their natural habitat, must be a life affirming experience! It’s a wonderful world…

5. Chase the Aurora Borealis
I would chase the Northern Lights in Iceland. This one needs little explanation but I’d experience everything Iceland has to offer while I’m there too…

6. Glamping
I would go Glamping and have some good old fashioned fun with my nieces and nephews, exploring the countryside and cooking on an open fire…

To be continued…

I am part of the revolution…

The Original iPhone (2007)

It was five years ago, in June 2007, when Apple first introduced the iPhone. However, up until earlier this week I was a conscientious objector. I re-buffed the whole phenomenon, branding it ‘techy’ and unnecessary and anybody who owned one as distinctly anti-social.

Now, what can I say, I can’t put the tremendous thing down!

In truth, this humble device is actually making me more of a social animal as my WordPress, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media accounts are now easily and readily at my fingertips. So, for that, I must be thankful.

For now, we’ll just ignore the fact that I no longer require any kind of human interaction because this device does it all and I’ll save my thoughts on people being in love with inanimate objects for another post.


Watch Steve Jobs announce the original iPhone

Image: Daily Mail