I was running a career workshop a while ago and found myself talking about round pegs and square holes – an odd subject for a workshop maybe, but actually it is very relevant to making that new career choice. Using my varied career path as an example I want to illustrate how important it is to actually get all the elements right.

I started my career path working in a bank. Not because I was interested in banking or economics, but mainly because my career advisor, after two years of career searching, decided I should find myself a millionaire and marry him! Money equals banks, or so I thought. Plus, my best friend had just got a job there too so at least I’d have someone to have lunch with! None of these are the best reasons for a career choice.

Element number one: Do you like it?

Make sure you are interested in the subject matter. This might sound like a no-brainer, but I am sure that some of you are not actually interested in what you do and ended up doing it for some other reason, or just wandered into it.

Needless to say I got out after two years of absolute boredom and took off to Australia. I loved it, loved the outdoors! I worked on a sheep station with 55,000 sheep and then moved onto a horse stud.

The stud ticked many boxes and definitely was the right shape; it fitted me. So I came home all ready to go do a diploma in horsemastership, only to be talked out of it by my family: it was not a ‘proper’ career – just a hobby, I was told. I made a half-hearted attempt to do it anyway and ended up in a stable being paid peanuts. That didn’t last long.

Element number two: Make your own decision

Don’t get talked out of what you want to do because someone else cannot see how to make it work, or doesn’t think it is a ‘proper career’. Follow what makes your heart sing.

Element number three: Get qualified in what you love

Get qualified in what you love – that way you can do it and get paid for it.

My next job was equally bad when it comes to actually choosing something that interested me. I was in the pub one night needing a job that paid more than the stables and someone I vaguely knew needed a receptionist for their Solicitors office. She couldn’t be bothered to interview anyone and choose me there and then in the pub. Now I knew that offices and me didn’t exactly mix, especially typing and me (you should see my articles before the spell checker has been through them!) and yet I still hadn’t learnt my lesson. I took the job.

Element number four: Don’t settle

Don’t just take the first job that comes because it is offered to you (unless it is an interim job to pay the bills while you work out what you truly want to do). Ensure that you are going at least to be good at it and that it is in your field of interest.

After a couple of years I ended up applying for an advertising sales job. In the interview they asked me why I wanted the job and I honestly answered – because it is closer to home than my current job! (and it paid more). The reason I couldn’t answer this question is because I hadn’t even asked myself the question or identified what I wanted from a job.

Element number five: What do you have to offer?

Find out what you want from a job, as well as what you have to offer. Be able to articulate that passion to a prospective employer. Only apply for jobs that you can be passionate about. If you don’t know your passions then find out!

I actually got the job (the interviewer couldn’t get over how honest I had been) and I lasted 14 years and ended up running the sales team. Towards the end I realised that although I was good at it, enjoyed working with people, motivating and supporting them to make sales, it didn’t really fit my values. Persuading people to buy advertising they didn’t really want began to grate and so I began to look elsewhere.

Element number six: Does it align with your values?

If what you are doing begins to feel uncomfortable you are probably not living your values. Discover your values and ensure that any job you go for honours them.

Now I was beginning to get the hang of this asking myself first and so the next job I had was really in line with my values. It had purpose and was with like-minded people working towards a common aim. Only problem was that I was still not actually playing the role I liked the best. One of my top skills had always been as an organiser – I could organise for England. Because I was good at it I always ended up in this role, when in fact what I truly loved was working with people.

Element number seven: Just because you’re good at it, doesn’t mean it’s right

Just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it. It is ok to say no and go do something you love. If you are going to be doing it for 5 days a week at least eight hours a day you have to enjoy it too.

Still I was definitely getting warmer – by now I knew my values and that I had choice. I was getting closer to knowing my own specific shape and finding the hole that fit rather than trying to squeeze myself into one that didn’t.

Finally after working for four years in a not for profit organisation in the USA, I was really beginning to see what my strengths were and what I loved doing. I loved working with people and empowering them to go for what they want, so I made a conscious choice about what I wanted to do.

Life Coaching fitted me like a glove. It was a passion. However, when I decided I wanted to do it I didn’t have the resources to do the training. At that point I started to talk about it to everyone I could find who would listen. I told people that I had found what truly excited me, what felt like an exact match for me and how excited I was that I was going to do this come what may. About a month later I got a call from an acquaintance who offered to train me free of charge there and then. The rest is history.

Element number eight: Stick with it

Once you have found the thing that feels just right and excites you, stick with it even if you don’t know ‘how’ it can happen. I have not only personally experienced but seen with my clients time and again that the ‘how’ has a tendency to show up when we finally choose ‘what’ we want.

As you look for a new career keep these elements in mind – choose what you want to be doing and set an intention to discover what unique shape you are and then go out and find the hole that fits you like a glove. It feels so good when you do.

About the Author
Jessica McGregor Johnson works internationally as a Life Fulfilment Coach. She offers a free introductory session to discuss how she can help you create the shift you want and feel excited about your career and life again. Contact or call 0203 239 6155 or visit

Jessica is also a Certified Passion Test Facilitator. The Passion Test is simple to take, fun to do and profoundly effective. For more information visit

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