The Winds of Change

This has, without a doubt, been one of the most challenging pieces I have written, never mind shared. If you normally skim through these articles, or ignore them altogether, I would encourage you to read this one through to the end. It is a story of change and transition – something that I know many of you are in the midst of also. It is also a story of hope!

It was around this time of year in 2007, a couple of months after my husband and I said "I do", that I began feeling restless, confused, and stifled. I had what most would describe as a "perfect" life – a new home, a loving husband, a delightful daughter, a snuggly cat, a good job, fulfilling volunteer work, many friends, and my health. Despite all the good in my life I could not shake the uneasy feeling that was washing over me. I knew something had to change. I felt like I couldn't take it anymore, like I was going to implode if I kept doing what I was doing.

A vision for something different was forming – a vision for a different way of working and a different way of living. In the spring of 2008 I quit my full time job with excellent pay and benefits to start Career Designs for Life. Many people were shocked, but supportive. Others were sceptical. Admittedly, I was sceptical too. While I had a "plan" I did not know exactly how my business would play out, if I would succeed or fail, or if this step would be the thing that would give me peace. I knew the only way to find out was to try.

All things must change
To something new, to something strange;
Nothing that is can pause or stay;
The moon will wax, the moon will wane,
The mist and cloud will turn to rain,
The rain to mist and cloud again,
Tomorrow be today.
  ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I have always been a bit stubborn...maybe tenacious is a better word. While growing up I had a hard time letting go of the thoughts that entered my mind and the feelings that entered my heart. I was quick to act and paid little attention to the possible consequences, if I even considered them. It caused a great deal of chaos at home and made maintaining relationships difficult. I have since spent a lot of time apologizing for my behaviour and regretting many of the decisions I made. I was just trying to find my own way. According to my Mom my favourite saying was, "me do it my own self". Not much has changed! It's not like I can't work with others, or that I don't have meaningful relationships, but I do tend to be fairly independent. I like to try new things and I enjoy the thrill of an adventure. These qualities are among my strengths, but they can also be challenging to manage at times!

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.
  ~ Maria Robinson

When I started Career Designs for Life my vision was to do my work the way I wanted to do my work – to provide truly individualized services for career transitioners, and to have the flexibility to work on different projects, go back to school, and make up for some lost time with my daughter who had just turned 10. It had been just her and I since the time she was born and we were settling in to having someone permanent in our lives. It was a transition for all of us and we needed a little more flexibility than we had to make it work.
Career Designs for Life gave me the flexibility and the space to try new things and to achieve some goals. It also opened the door for new opportunities. In the past 8 years I have worked with hundreds of individuals, contracted to a handful of different organizations, facilitated and co-facilitated dozens of workshops, presented at and participated in conferences across Canada and in the United States, and made connections with people from around the world. I have completed a management degree and am planning to complete a master’s degree in career development. I have supported my profession through my involvement with the Career Development Association of Alberta and was honoured as a Life Member. I have been honoured to serve releasing and retiring military members, as well as veterans, as a workshop facilitator, coach, vocational rehabilitation specialist, and Second Career Assistance Network Coordinator. I've gardened, preserved the fruits and veggies of my labour, and built a little business that allows me to share my love of making, baking, and growing. I have sent my daughter on fabulous adventures, and had the flexibility to support her through her tween and teenage years. I have been able to help family and friends during difficult times, and important and special moments. I have learned to take care of my physical health and to find fun in fitness.
These opportunities and achievements have not come without hard work and sacrifice. I have had flexibility within very long and full days – often 18-20 hours per day. I have started and ended contracts. I have lived through transition and uncertainty. My physical and mental health has suffered. My confidence and self-esteem has been tested. I have been away from home a lot.
After almost 8 years of exploring I have found my place. My contract role as the Executive Director of the Career Development Association of Alberta, my casual role with the Canadian Armed Forces as a Second Career Assistance Network Coordinator, Paula's Pantry, and my involvement with Fort Saskatchewan Women In Business fill my heart...and my calendar. In order to be the best that I can be in these roles, to take care of myself, and to have more balance I have made the decision to step back from my contract roles and to limit the number of private clients I serve. This decision has been a difficult one and over a year in the making. Saying "no" has never been as easy as saying "yes" for me. Thankfully saying "yes" has created amazing opportunities and delivered positive experiences. In order to continue saying "yes" to opportunities that fill my bucket I need to say “no” to others, shift my focus, and gracefully step away from some of my commitments.
I am moving in a different direction and Career Designs for Life is taking a different path. This is what career development is all about – self-assessment, exploration, and negotiation. It is about finding the right fit in the moment. I knew that Career Designs for Life wouldn't stay the same forever. I didn't know how long the journey would be or where it would take me. By checking-in with myself regularly, following what felt right and moving away from what didn't, and being honest with myself I managed to find my way here – to this place of peace with my decision and the confidence to follow a new path.
I am so grateful to each and every one of my clients, connections, and referral sources for supporting me, trusting me, and believing in me. There are many competent and capable individuals in my network that I am pleased to recommend for career development services. You can find them through various professional associations including:

Career Development Association of Alberta
Career Professionals of Canada
Vocational Rehabilitation Association of Canada
Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association

I wish you all the best in your career journey and would be delighted to keep in touch. Please connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on Twitter. You can continue to reach me by email at

Sending you and yours warmest thoughts and best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a very happy new year!


For a FREE 30 minute consultation please feel free to contact Paula directly at or 780.589.2245. Connect with Paula on LinkedIn or Facebook.

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