Just over 15 years and a month ago in September 1999, almost to the day, I was sitting at my desk in a beautiful Sussex barn we were renting as our office, putting the finishing touches to the front cover design of a sales and marketing technology magazine which I had co-founded a few years before.
My computer screen showed the full cover for the October issue in all its glory, complete with the picture of a hamster in a wheel turning at speed under the headline: "Break free with technology".
Why a hamster in a wheel you may ask?
As I so stridently told my fellow director (and bless him, long suffering husband) who asked me the same question, "Because that's me. I'm the hamster and I'm stuck in the wheel."
It is strange how you can be very successful in a role and hate it at the same time...
In my case, my work played to my skills rather than to my inherent gifts and need for personal meaning.
Yes, it meant that I could play my part in providing a pretty comfortable standard of living for my family, but it came at an increasingly high personal cost every year.
Finally, one day shortly afterwards, it hit me.
I realised that I had been living someone else's idea of career and life and was working unconsciously to fulfil their career expectations.
At no time had I ever sat down and worked out what specifically I wanted from my career for myself.
Because no one had ever told me I needed to and shown me how.
My hamster moment led to a total change of career direction by dint of listening to myself, enquiry with others and research.
As Confucius said: " Choose a job you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life."
And he was bang on the money!
I found what I would call my true career path, passion or calling and my tolerant family members would call my obsession. It's a large part of who I am and not doing it isn't an option!!
I became a careers adviser having been given the chance to do so by the best boss I have ever had (thank you, Monica).
For me, there is nothing better that helping someone discover their gifts, understand and believe in their potential and put it to work in a way that is fulfilling and meaningful to them.
Enabling an individual to discover where they want to make their unique difference to the world and helping them to get there is my guilty pleasure.
As Joseph Campbell said, "If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else."
And that's true. I know those who achieve clarity, and know what their bliss is, receive more than just financial rewards.
Their bliss fills their working soul in a way that nothing else would. So they relish rather than hate Mondays and the rest of the working week, even when the going gets gritty sometimes.
For the last fifteen years, I have blessed to be able to follow my bliss, developing and honing my craft in a British university. In that time, I have had the privilege of helping thousands of embryonic professionals and career changers find their bliss through understanding their special gifts and putting them to meaningful work.
In that time, the world of careers has changed dramatically and as has been reported on countless occasions, the job for life has gone.
We spend on average around 90,000 hours or a third of our lives working.
If you are a graduate in the early stages of your career, you can count on working for around 50 years before you can get to the point of enjoying time and hopefully a decent enough pension as well.
Levels of job related stress are unparalleled and 87% of the world's workforce are either not engaged or actively disengaged.
If the vast majority of your life is spent working, you had better make sure it is something which lights you up rather than slowly extinguishes your spirit.
Finding your bliss will give you a compass to navigate your way in the twenty first century world of work where the only constant is change.
That's where Career Alchemy comes in.
We help you understand and find your bliss so you can avoid the trap of the hamster wheel, or at least find a wheel you are happy to run in!
So no matter what happens to organisations, roles and short term contracts, you will always be be able to find and create opportunities to work doing something meaningful to you and future proof your career.
We want people to feel the sunshine of being absolutely in the right work and in the right place in their career.
Traditionally, career coaching programmes have been exclusive, expensive and the preserve of an elite few who can afford it, or those who have made it onto top class graduate schemes.
So in the case of graduates, that means if you are one of the 21,000 or so working for the UK's biggest organisations, you will get that benefit and have someone who is ultimately very focussed on helping you develop your career - in the context of their business.
If you are not in that group and are one of the rest of the 300,000+ people who graduate every year, you need to start stewarding your own future now.
Doing this will ensure that you create the future you want, or you will have to endure the future you get in someone else's hamster wheel!
By now you may be wondering if that is the end of the hamster references.
Well not quite.
The technology element of that front cover design above the wheel has its own part to play in this.
Career Alchemy programmes use the power of technology to make our unique career programmes affordable and accessible to any professional wanting quality support, not just those in elite circumstances.
We use technology to scale what can be scaled effectively and then we blend in real live human support where it is needed most to keep the costs down so that programmes are affordable for all.
To be clear, Career Alchemy programmes are not just another set of e-learning products.
You know the ones - where you sign up just like the gym or slimming club, full of good intentions, and then don't ever get to finish them.
We understand that gaining clarity or change on your own can be difficult, so we are there to give you the help you need, when you need it, and keep your motivation up to achieve the change you want.
Over the course of the next few months, we will be offering affordable, effective and flexible coaching programmes in addition to the one to one coaching service we are already providing.
Our programmes will help you discover and develop you bliss and latent potential and put it to work in the right place and way for the benefit of you, your family and community, society and the planet so you can make your unique contribution to the world.
And that's what our blog, Coffee Time, is for too - highlighting new trends and opportunities,helping you learn from those ahead of you, and, from time to time, letting you know about what we are up to as well.
As Shakti Gowain said: "Work and play are the same. When you are following your energy and doing what you want all the time, the distinction between work and play dissolves."
We hope you will experience the joy of work as play too, because you have found and are following your bliss.
Welcome to Coffee Time with Career Alchemy.
ABOUT THIS BLOG
Designed for professionals, the Career Alchemy blog mixes news, career trends and philosophy with "how to" advice to help you achieve happiness and success in your working life, no matter how much the world of work is changing.