When I was in my 20's someone asked me what I'd do if I won the lottery, I shrugged and said "Come to work". I meant it. Work was everything to me: the one source of my self-esteem, the 'only thing I was good at', a distraction from the hangovers of childhood trauma and from low moods that would roll in without warning and leave me flattened.
I couldn't think about suicide if I was running a strategy workshop with a senior management team which was a bonus.
I worked such long hours I often wouldn't see the downstairs of my house from Sunday night until the following Friday night. My routine was: get in late, go straight to bed, out of bed early, showered, out of the door and back to the commute to work.
At that time what mattered to me was: status, money, 'winning' and any pat on the head I could get - working myself to exhaustion for top performance scores to prop up my identity and fragile ego.
Of course, you know where this is going. The moment work was no longer a big enough crutch for the crap I was dragging around. The cliche breakdown. I found myself in The Priory arguing with a therapist who had challenged whether I had a healthy balance in my life by saying "If I can't be a top 1% performer at work then I may as well be dead".
Cue a considerable amount of hard work to work through the unresolved traumas, build my life and self-esteem so that it no longer depended solely on my work performance and stop my ego from being in the driving seat.
Great, right? Everyone lives happily ever after...?
Well, not quite. At least, not yet.
Perversely my world had flipped: I now had a wonderful, full life, a great partner, closer relationships with friends and family but work? Work felt all wrong.
Those long hours now kept me away from the things in my life that I loved. The complexity and amount of work hadn't changed (both still high) but now I found it stressful even though it was well within my capabilities.
Now in my 30's, my values had changed, I no longer valued status, flash cars and material things as much as family, friendship, community, social impact and personal growth.
I felt unmotivated and disengaged, made all the worse by working with a number of senior management teams in large global companies that had questionable ethics. I felt like the scales had dropped from my eyes and that I'd never be able to put them back on. Here I was, spending the majority of my life implementing things I didn't believe in, for people I didn't like to make rich people I didn't know even richer.
It was bullshit; but it was also all I knew. I could think of a million ways to earn £20k but zero ways to replace my City management consultant income, and as the main breadwinner (by a long way) earning £20k did not feel like an option.
I looked around for help - how do I figure out a way out of this? What should I do instead of the only job I know? How do other people make money outside of corporate jobs? What can I do that wouldn't make me feel so shitty?
There was nothing.
Then one day I was listening to a podcast featuring a couple of guys from Stanford who were talking about how you could apply some of the techniques they used in design thinking (a business and consulting framework used to design products and services) to design a better life. It was a lightbulb moment.
As a management consultant I worked with some of the largest global financial services companies using tools, processes and frameworks to solve complex business problems. This could be adapted to solve my own complex problem: 'How do I find a career with purpose that pays the bills, when I don't even know what my purpose is?'
And so began the work to pull together what has become The Purpose-Driven Career Blueprint. It's evolved a lot since those first days - the management consulting frameworks were great as a starting point but had little to say about values, purpose and all the little mind gremlins that come out to play like imposter syndrome, lack of confidence and fears of the unknown.
So in came tools from Transformational Coaching, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), mindset coaching and meditation.
My purpose is to help other women live meaningful, balanced, fulfilled and joyful lives and my mission is to support 1 million women achieve this. Yes, you read that number correctly - I believe we can all achieve great things if we stop keeping ourselves small and dare to have big dreams.
You only have one life - don't spend it doing work that makes you feel stressed, stuck, trapped or unfulfilled. You have a choice, a choice to find your purpose and pursue it. If not now, then when?
You've been drawn here, to read this story for a reason...if you were waiting for a sign. This is it!
A few more facts about me...
Having been quite the party girl through my 20's I now live the 'good life' in a little village in Hampshire with my lovely husband. I'm more likely to talk about growing tomatoes than clubs these days (my 22-year-old self would be ashamed!).
People often wonder where my accent is from because it's a bit of a mongrel cross between Stoke and Manchester with Surrey and Hampshire. To people from the North I sound a bit posh, to people from the South I sound like I should keep ferrets (no-one I know in the North keeps ferrets, though I wouldn't rule it out as per my next point).
I love animals. I'm not a 'cat person' or a 'dog person', I'm an 'anything I can pet' person. We currently have four spoilt cats but the dream is to get a smallholding and have a menagerie of rescue animals.
I have a bad habit of indulging in a million different crafty hobbies and leaving a trail of half-finished projects behind me because I've already moved on to the 'next thing'. I do everything from upholstery to watercolour painting to medieval stone carving - definitely a jack of all trades and master of none but it makes me happy!