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What Makes You Happy? The Success Secret Midlife Career Changers Need to Know


“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”  ~ Patanjali, Yogi and Mystic


Dear friends, I am currently re-editing one of the books in my popular MidLife Career Rescue series, What Makes You Happy.  It doesn’t matter how often I cast my eye over the text looking for pesky typos, sometimes, like mosquitos in summer, a few manage to slip through the net. But, happily, I am enjoying reacquainting myself with this book—and in the process, I’m reminding myself of what makes me happy too.

Here’s an updated look at one of my favorite chapters, including the true career change story of one of my favorite authors, Annie Featherston. Annie is a former New Zealand school teacher who left a job she no longer loved and upgraded her life as the bestselling historical author Sophia James.

A healthy obsession can be a liberating and clarifying catalyst to your true calling and career direction—especially for people in the mid-life zone. With maturity comes renewed confidence and determination to pursue the things they are truly passionate about.

I hope you enjoy this excerpt


Fully alive

Being passionate is a vital part of being human. Passion is love—hard to define, but easy to see and feel when it is alive. Passion is about emotion, feeling, zest and enthusiasm. Intensity, fervor, ardor, and zeal. Passion is about fire, eagerness, and preoccupation.

Passion is about excitement and animation. Passion is about determination and self-belief. Passion is about being willing to change. Passion is about following your heart’s desire. Passion is about doing something you love.

It’s not an intellectual thought. It’s a feeling. Feelings matter, and feelings are where the real power is. But Western society tends to predominately value thoughts, reason, logic and clear thinking more highly than feelings, intuition, spirit, and soul.

Perhaps because of this, people have become desensitized to the clues and callings of their own passions.

Some of the strategies I’ll share with you in this book may be criticized as ‘fluff’ or ‘snake oil.’ People often fear that which they don’t understand. I was attacked in this vein when I once offered a doctor some lavender oil to help reduce her mental strain. But understand this, the heart has its own reasons, its own desires, its own magical way of making itself heard.

Passion, some say, can be difficult to find, but if you’re awake it will find you. Stay open-hearted and open-minded. Don’t be like so many adults who fail to discover it at all, and in the absence of any encouragement, give up.

“People pride themselves upon their willpower, their indomitable courage, upon the fact that nothing frightens them,” writes T. Lobsang Rampa, in his classic book, You Forever. “They assured bored listeners that with their willpower they can do anything at all.”

But the truth is there is no greater power than imagination, passion, and the incredible power of love.

If you are serious about being happy, if it’s your desire to be the best that you can be, then the integration of your mind, body, and spirit is essential. Make a commitment to working and living with passion—I’ll show you where to look!

Passion’s Pay Cheque

Pursuing your passion can be profitable on many levels:

When you do what you love, your true talent will reveal itself; passion can’t be faked

You will be more enthusiastic about your pursuits

You will have more energy to overcome obstacles

You will be more determined to make things happen

You will enjoy your work

Your work will become a vehicle for self-expression

Passion will give you a competitive edge

New Zealand motorcycling legend Burt Munro proved that passion is the key to success. “All my life I’ve wanted to do something big,” he said. In 1967 Burt achieved something huge.

At the age of 68, against all the odds, he set a world record of 183.586 mph with his highly modified Indian Scout motorcycle. To qualify he made a one-way run of 190.07 mph, the fastest ever officially recorded speed on an Indian.

Like so many inspiring people the road to success was not an easy one—it involved much personal hardship and numerous setbacks, but armed with his passion and a compelling desire to “go out with a bang,” Burt Munro mortgaged his house and set out on the greatest adventure of his life.

His truly awesome achievements were bought to life in an inspiring and uplifting film, The World’s Fastest Indian.

The World’s Fastest Indian not only gives movie-goers an inside look at Munro’s passion, but it also gives them an idea of New Zealand filmmaker Roger Donaldson’s overwhelming desire to tell the story.

“This project has been a passion of mine since I completed a documentary about Burt Munro back in 1972,” Donaldson said. “I have been intrigued by Burt’s story for many, many years; some would say my obsession with this film matches Burt’s obsession with his bike.”

Donaldson’s passion for his subject has won him international acclaim from Academy Award-winning actor Anthony Hopkins. “I thought it was a terrific movie. It is a unique script… it is just so well written, very well written, beautifully written, and so refreshing. I’ve worked with a lot of great directors, Steven Spielberg, and Oliver Stone, and Roger Donaldson is there with that lot, you know. He really is,” Hopkins said.

Obsessions Boost Health

A healthy obsession can lead you to many things, including your:

1) Life niche—creating a breath of fresh air and giving you a competitive edge

2) True bliss—leading you to your vocation where being paid is the icing on the cake

3) Your point of excellence—unleashing dormant talents and natural gifts

4) Your life purpose—spreading seeds of joy and inspiration and benefiting others.

Authentic Happiness: Love Is Where The Magic Is

Love is where the magic is. When you love what you do with such a passion you’d do it for free, this is your path with heart. You’ve heard the saying, ‘when you do what you love, you’ll never work again.’ It’s true. Work doesn’t feel like a slog, it feels energizing.

From Teacher to Romance Writer

As Annie Featherston, writing as Sophia James, shares below, when you combine your favorite skills with doing something you completely and utterly love, you come home to your true Self and find your place of bliss. The result? Contentment—and more often than not, producing something highly marketable.

“I’d taught for fifteen years and loved it. And then I didn’t.

It wasn’t the students or the workload. It wasn’t the noise or the constant worry of, ‘was I doing enough’ that pushed me out either.

I was a good teacher but underneath was a passion that I couldn’t ignore any longer. I wanted to be writer, a historical romance writer, and I was beginning to get offered some wonderful opportunities that did not meld with the structured teaching year and the constant pressure of it.

I felt like a juggler with a hundred balls in the air. I was teaching half time, taking tours to Europe with my husband to help him, running mentorship programs…. and writing.

Writing was my complete and utter love and yet it was always taking a secondary place. I wrote at night. I wrote in the weekends. I wrote when the kids were asleep. When I wrote I didn’t think of the time or the problems, all I saw was the joy and passion of it. I loved forming characters and thinking of stories. I lay in bed at night asking my protagonists questions and spent many hours trawling over history books to place them into a context.

I have a degree in history so it was as if all the things I had enjoyed were coming together at last. History and writing. I knew that at 54 I couldn’t be patient any longer.

I needed to be in a field that I felt fully aware in, that I loved beyond the weekly paycheck and that filled my spirit with lightness.

I’d just won a New Zealand based competition for a completed romance and it was validation, I suppose. If I didn’t make the jump and do it now perhaps I never would. And if I never gave myself a chance I would feel bereft.

I penned my resignation letter and left to Australia to be a mentor on a five-day intensive scheme the Romance Writers of Australia were running. It was scary and hard but when I finished it successfully I remember standing alone in front of the mirror, a cold sore from exhaustion and worry on my lip, but my clenched fist punching the air in triumph.

To feel like that is to know you live.

When I got picked up by Harlequin Historical and published it felt like all the dreams I had hoped for so long were finally happening. I had visualized this. I had walked the lonely windy beaches of Gisborne and shouted my hopes for it into the wind. I had sat in the mall with three crying children in the car and written scenarios on the back of the supermarket docket because the story just wouldn’t wait until I got home.

If I had not been paid one cent for my writing I would still have done it somehow. But the strange thing is that money does follow passion and suddenly I was making as much as I ever did in part-time teaching.

Writing is hard work. A book does not come fully formed from thin air or dreams for me. But I’ve persevered and sat and written. I’ve made deadlines. I’ve written blogs. I have delved into social media and stood there with a smile on my face when the reviews have not been what I wanted.

But I have always believed in myself and my stories. I’ve kept going. I have never given up.

And I have loved my writing life, my freedom, the creativity, the possibilities.

If I had my time over I would have left my teaching career earlier. I would have been braver and less worried by all the sensible advice others were giving me. I should have listened to my heart and taken the jump into a lifestyle that is my perfect fit and even if I had never succeeded I would have known that at least I tried.”

I love Annie’s story of reinvention. So-called sensible advice is no replacement for the wisdom of your heart, your soul, your intuitive knowing about what choices are right for you.

“When you show a bit of courage, The Universe rewards you. ~ Laurie Wills, Change-maker

Action Task! Find Your Passion

Real passion is more than a fad or a fleeting enthusiasm. It can’t be turned on and off like a tap. Answering the following questions will help you begin to clarify the things you are most passionate about:

1) When does time seem to fly? When was the last time you felt really excited, or deeply absorbed in, or obsessed by, something? What were you doing? Who were you with? What clues did you notice?

2) What do you care deeply or strongly about? Discovering all the things that you believe in is not always easy. Look for the clues to your deep beliefs by catching the times you use words such as ‘should’ or ‘must.’

3) What do you value? What do you need to experience, feel, or be doing to feel deeply fulfilled?

4) What pushes your buttons or makes you angry? How could you use your anger constructively to bring about change?

5) Which skills and talents come most easily or naturally to you? Which ones give you a buzz or a huge sense of personal satisfaction?

6) What inspires you? Passion goes in all directions. It could be as tangible as a job or a person, or as intangible as a dream or an idea. List all your obsessions and the things that interest you deeply. If you’re struggling to identify your interests and inspirations, you’ll find some handy prompts in the next chapter

7) Keep a passion journal. It’s staggeringly, and dishearteningly, true that many people don’t know what they are passionate about, or how they can turn it into a rewarding career. Some research suggests that only 10% of people are living and working with passion. Hence my passion for passion – to bring about positive change in the world. Creating a passion journal is one simple but powerful technique to help achieve this.

This is where manifesting your preferred future really happens. I’ve been keeping a passion journal for years and so many things I’ve visualized and affirmed on the pages, are now my living realities.

Client Success Story: From Manager to Visual Merchandiser

Jane wanted to change her profession from a background in retail sales and management to something more creative and hands-on. She was struggling to identify how her passion for fabric could be combined into a new career.

I encouraged her to gather clues to her preferred future, by collecting examples of others who enjoyed successful careers working with fabrics. She began a passion journal, which she covered with her favorite fabric, and regularly updated her journal with aspirational images, inspirational quotes, confirmation of her strengths and clues to her passion.

After focusing on all the facets of her passion, including her natural gifts and talents, the laws of manifestation, focus and intention kicked into gear, and she successfully transitioned into her dream job.

“I have just been offered the position of visual merchandiser for a furnishings chain. This job is going to enable me to use all those key skills that I have and a huge bonus is that I also get to work with fabrics, which is just perfect. I know I came across with confidence and the right attitude thanks to you reminding me that I need to ‘blow my own trumpet’ and allow my passion to shine.”

Jane’s story is a powerful reminder of how you can manifest your preferred future by making passion your priority, allowing no doubt and visualizing your dreams into reality.

What Were Your Childhood dreams?

“Persevere with your mid-life, bring into consciousness your childhood dreams for they will become your living realities.”

~Max Gimblett, Artist, and Zen Buddhist Monk

At the age of eight, Donna Hay skipped into a kitchen, picked up a mixing bowl and never looked back. She later moved into the world of magazine test kitchens and publishing, where she established her signature style of simple, smart and seasonal recipes—all beautifully photographed.

Her unique style turned her into one of the first celebrity chefs—an international food-publishing phenomenon and best-selling author. Like many passionate business people, Donna has many outlets all unified by her abiding passion for food. Along with publishing cookbooks and producing her own magazine, she’s created a line of homewares, a food range, and at the time of print, now has her own general store.

Many experts say that your passion reveals itself early on in your life. If you’re lucky, someone close to you will have noticed your natural inclination and encouraged you towards your true vocation.

Chances are, you weren’t that lucky. Many baby-boomers weren’t encouraged to follow their childhood bliss. Pay it no mind. It’s not too late to follow it now.

Action Questions: What did you love as a child?

What were your childhood dreams? What did you love to do as a child? What steps can you take to make these your living reality? Perhaps a hobby could be a stepping-stone toward a new career.

As you contemplate making changes in your life, how can you maintain a spirit of curiosity, and allow yourself to be childlike?

Never Grow Up

“…stay in part a child, with the creativity and invention that characterizes children before they are deformed by adult society.”

~ Jean Piaget, Educational Psychologist

“When will you grow up?” asks Jenny Regels’ husband, affectionately. While visiting Russell in the astoundingly beautiful Bay Of Islands in New Zealand, I had the great fortune of wandering into Jenny’s crystal and spiritual haven—aptly named ‘Peace and Plenty.’

We immediately connected and I had a great time ‘playing’ with one of the many pendulums she has for sale. I gained confirmation from Spirit that the choices I was considering were right.

When Jenny, then a youthful 69-year-old, shared with me the great joy she feels every day being childlike I asked her if she’d share a few words of wisdom with those of us, who at times, take life too seriously.

“It’s really, really important not to grow up, and to keep a young mind and be interested in everything going on around you. And keep your inner child active the whole time. Really active. And keep a positive outlook on life. Don’t be the glass half empty person. Be the one-half full. Always.”

I left feeling uplifted, reaffirmed in the knowledge that I want what Jenny’s got—ageless grace, peace and plenty.

Surf The Net

Take a peek inside Jenny’s crystal haven and listen to this delightful, ageless lady here https://vimeo.com/147984220

Tune Into Your Body Barometer

As Neale Walsch, the author of Conversations With God, says, “Judge not about which you feel passionate. Simply notice it, then see if it serves you, given who and what you wish to be.”

Notice the times you feel a sense of excitement, a state of arousal, a feeling of limitless energy, a burning desire, a strong gut feeling, a feeling of contentment, strong emotions or determination. Notice these feelings and record them in your passion journal.

During my time in the United States, I was very lucky to have been able to stay in New York and to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was even luckier because while I was there I unexpectedly rediscovered a passion I had forgotten.

I share the following excerpt from my passion journal at that time (which incidentally was bright red!), in the hope that it illustrates some of the strategies I am encouraging you to try.

“To see these paintings makes my heart sing, my eyes sparkle, and a smile settle upon my lips. I feel a shortness of breath and my heart rate quickens. I want to take them all in and love the ones with texture so rich you can almost feel the paint. I have to stop myself from reaching out to touch them. I am flushed with excitement and a thirst that cannot be quenched.”

And so it was that my ‘body barometer’ reminded me of the deep joy and love I feel when I paint with oil. I had traded my passion for the convenience of acrylic, but I found it joyless and plastic.

I thought it was a great confirmation of the power of passion when an art gallery owner, who bought some of my paintings not long after I returned from New York, said to me, “You have a rare ability to capture an emotion.”

I later won the Supreme Art Award for an oil painting I did of my grandmother. It was the first portrait I had ever painted. I’m not a formally trained artist, more of a dabbler. So yes, magic can happen when you follow your passion.

“You must first be who you really are, then do what you really need to do, in order to have what you want.”

~ Margaret Young, Singer, and Comedienne


This is an edited extract from Midlife Career Rescue: (What Makes You Happy):  How to Confidently Leave a Job You Hate, and Start Living a Life you Love, Before It’s Too Late​

To grab your eBook or Print copy from Amazon, click here>>getBook.at/MakeYouHappy

To grab your paperback copy from iBooks, Barnes & Noble and other great bookstores go directly to your favorite retailer.


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What Makes You Happy? The Success Secret Midlife Career Changers Need to Know

The Joyful Artist

I am an artist, storyteller, intuitive guide, mentor and Reiki master. All my creations are infused with positive energy , inspiration, and light. I believe in magic and the power of beauty, joy, love, purpose, and creativity to transform your life. My greatest joy is helping your realize your dreams. That makes my soul sing!

P: +64 (0) 21 873 833
E: hello@thejoyfulartist.co.nz


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