We had just come back from almost a month off in France - our annual lifesaving holiday required to recharge exhausted energy levels and spend much needed time reconnecting the family, so we were ready to do it all over again for another year.
For the previous two years, my growing sense of disquiet turned from a quiet whisper of discontent to a shout, Post holiday blues kicked in big time, the shout became a roar and this time, enough was enough. And it wasn't just me feeling it, my husband was too.
We realised that we were fed up with the hamster wheel existence we were living - working far too hard with the inevitable squeeze of career on family life, unhappy with the way our children were being fast tracked into adulthood, and fed up with maintaining the excessively high financial burden needed to have a decent quality of life in the South East of England.
So we set about swapping a career for a life ...
It wasn't - but it could have been, if I could have found someone to really help us make sense out of what was going on.
We thought it was the rigours of running a publishing business that were the main issue, so we changed to an online business which meant we could move.
A better life in a better place...
We found peace and tranquillity and starting sleeping better than we had for years.
And then we set about creating a life which worked for all of us.
The guilt we felt about uprooting the lives of our youngsters soon began to wane and proved totally unnecessary as they quickly settled into lives. which rebooted their childhood. The pleasure of seeing your kids from your kitchen window running freely as they played in 4.5 acres of land as children should be able to is immense.
And as time went by, we felt all the more justified that we had moved them as they started developing interests which later were to become their careers.
But in career terms things still weren't right.
... a more authentic career
Eventually I was able to put my finger on what was missing - a clear and undeniable purpose which reflected who I am, not who I was expected to be (sorry Mum and Dad!).
Finally, I realised that what I needed was a career built on clear values which complimented each other and gave us better security and work life balance than running a business.
You may think I am not a very quick learner, but when you don't even know the questions to ask, it's hard to find the answers!
I finally worked out that the hollowness I felt could be more than filled by helping others, so I retrained and became a university careers adviser, determined to help talented people avoid the pain I had gone through. Over time my career grew and turned into a director of employability and development role, working with graduates, career changers and staff helping them to maximise their talent. Meanwhile, my husband took the opportunity to become a university computer science lecturer and fulfil one of his ambitions too, following in his teaching father's footsteps.
It worked a treat while the kids were growing up and our beautiful house obligingly accommodated ever increasing numbers of teenage friends for sleepovers who also loved the cats, dogs and horses who were also sharing our home by then.
(Well, the horses did sleep outside in their own stable block, just in case you were wondering!).
Pivoting to stretch...
The world of higher education no longer held the appeal it once did given contextual changes not least to the HE landscape. I needed to be in charge of my own future so I could continue to grow and make the difference I wanted to make, while at the same time having greater flexibility to look after my ageing Mum, who had moved back to Wales to live with us a couple of years earlier.
So I took voluntary severance just over a year ago to set up www.careeralchemy.co.uk. Taking the plunge this time has given me incredible opportunity to stretch and grow while continuing to be a national trainer of career coaching. And it has even led to receiving a new business award from Prince Charles last month complete with short video starring my beloved dog Pippy (starts at 1.47)!
I am now able to spend my time helping talented people understand how to squeeze the juice out of their working lives by asking them the very questions I was missing in my own crisis. I have incorporated these questions and other content into the INSPiRED programme and other coaching support which I deliver online and face to face so my clients get the life they want.
Fancy swapping your career for a better life yourself?
Whatever has led you to reading this post, if you'd like to talk to someone with first hand experience of changing career and a proven method that can help you swap a career for a life or get a better balance, please get in touch for a free discovery call about how I can help you create your unique version of a happy and successful career - and the life you want, whether it contains dogs and kids or not!
You get one shot at this thing called life, so why waste it being miserable?
PS Sadly, my Mum died in May and it's now time for our beautiful house to welcome a new family that will love living there like we have, so it is up for sale (or available for rent if you want to test out a new life before you commit). You can find out more about it here, and if you are looking for more land and buildings, the farmer next door may well be able to help!