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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

What happens after a big career leap: Helena’s journey and 3 key pieces [Wise Wednesdays]

‘I’m building a bat shelter’. I paused to take in the sentence, slightly puzzled.

‘No, no. I love bats! It’s a rare species that we have in the barn. In fact, bats are a good omen for me!’

Indeed, Helena has had a number of successes this past year building her consultancy in food systems and sustainability.

And, she’s flourished in more ways than one: starting to write creatively; renovating an old farm in the country with her husband; and landing a dream contract this January working on the UK Food Strategy.

When Helena and I met, she was an in-house expert and Director in a well-known, global organisation. She felt a constant sense of urgency and time pressure. Sleepless nights were not uncommon.

But she had a big dream of becoming an independent professional, having a more balanced life and working on food justice.

What was stopping her was not knowing ‘how’ to make it happen or when she’d find the time.

But as the Zen saying goes: ‘Meditate for an hour a day. If you don’t have time, meditate two hours a day’.

Or as Helena says: ‘You have to invest time to create time’.

And that’s why she signed up for a coaching process: to create the time to clarify her vision and turn it into a reality.


Coming out of an office environment and becoming your own boss and motivator can be a shock to the system. You can find yourself faced with a barrage of anxious thoughts as to what you should be doing every morning and how you’re going to manage.

Three ingredients are needed for the independent professional or solo-preneur:

1) A guiding vision

2) Deep work on limiting beliefs

3) Consistent, inspired action.

1) The guiding vision

Whether it’s before, during or after a career leap, it’s so much easier if you have that sense of something pulling you forward or animating your spirits when you think about it. It takes a commitment to excavate the vision, but it’s time well spent.

2) The deep work

After a career leap, the key mindset shift is in moving away from the ‘expert-employee’ to the ‘creative-entrepreneur’ (it’s a big topic and two full chapters in the Success Trap book). For example, for Helena it was in overcoming limiting thoughts like: ‘people won’t reply if you reach out to them’; ‘people will be annoyed if you message them’, ‘who are you to write about this topic?’, ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about’…

3) Consistent action.

When you leave a highly structured, high pressure environment and work for yourself from home, you might find your motivation drops. Nothing to be alarmed by. Your body and mind are adapting (here’s a video with a practice to overcome this). Then it’s a matter of consistent, small steps. For example, for Helena (and many solo-businesses) it’s just about: 1) reaching out thoughtfully to one person at a time who you authentically want to connect with; and 2) creating short written pieces regularly. It takes a little patience, and it’s easy to give up or never get started. But it works.

‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ – Nelson Mandela

These three pieces build on each other to create a successful career transformation from 9-5 to independent work. Just having the courage to share your ideas online has a huge ROI (Return on Investment and Ripple of Impact) In fact, after finally overcoming the resistance to posting online, so many people reached out that Helena has got the high quality problem of being overbooked.

In her own words:

"Now I get paid to read and write about something I love and engage with key players in the field".

Congratulations, Helena! I’m glad you’re no longer one of the world’s best kept secrets. I feel our ecosystem and food system are in safe hands.


A radical recalibration of your being I’d never met someone who took the trouble to build a bat shelter. But I'm so happy to have helped facilitate one. I coach to liberate people’s deepest potential. How that will manifest is something that we discover together and translate into action through the coaching process.

We focus on the career leap. And then other things happen - like a radical recalibration of being as one client said: relationships improve; mental and physical wellbeing improve; new opportunities emerge; painting, writing poetry, playing music again start to happen. And, now, also caring for wildlife.

It turns out bats are a symbol of letting go and renewal – transition and new beginnings.

It couldn’t be more fitting for 2021.

What new beginning will you embrace, today?

Have a good week,


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