What an emotionally draining week.

There were the floods, a brewing war in Ukraine, and to top it all off, news of Shane Warne’s passing on Saturday morning. You can’t help but feel like Covid is fast becoming a distant memory!

Shane Warne was a childhood hero of mine, as I am sure he was to many boys and girls who grew up in the 90’s and early 2000’s. I loved the way he went about the game of cricket, but I also loved certain aspects of how he approached life. He seemed to go through his life doing things that gave him joy. It looked like he packed a lot into his 52 years.

This week’s blog post is therefore a little different.

This week I had the pleasure of speaking with Ashley Stahl, author of a book called “You Turn: Get Unstuck, Discover Your Direction, and Design Your Dream Career” (she also has a podcast of the same name).

Ashley is a counter-terrorism professional turned career coach, and her book unpacks the process of career choice – which career to pursue, if and when to change career, and how to transition from one career to another (hence the play on words with a U Turn).

Ultimately, she shows a way for landing in a job and career that gives you purpose, joy and fulfilment.

It got me thinking about the importance of our choice of career. The typical Aussie spends 8 to 9 hours a day working. When you consider that we’re only awake for about 16 hours, that’s half our lives.

In Bulletproof Investing, I wrote about my own career ‘U Turn’. When I was 20 I left the safety and comfort of a career in law for the relative uncertainty of property development and finance.

We tend to select our career around the time of leaving school. It’s such a young age to make such a big decision. As I approached the end of school, I decided that I should study law and become a solicitor. I pictured myself defending wrongly accused criminals in court, just like in the movies.

So how do we find careers that give us purpose, joy and fulfilment? I’m going to defer to the expert on that one. Ashley encourages us to pay attention to the ‘turn signals’ that come up from time to time.

I can still remember my mum being so worried for me at the time of my ‘U turn’, perhaps even more worried than I was. To me, it didn’t feel like I had anything to lose. Working as a lawyer wasn’t as I’d imagined it. I was spending eight and a half hours of each day counting down until the end of the day. I remember at the time thinking it didn’t feel right that I should spend the next 30-plus years hanging out for the 2pm coffee and biscuit break.

Ashley refers to moments like those as ‘turn signals’ that we ought to pay attention to. Now I dare say it’s impossible to enjoy every aspect of your job. But I can understand how it can be easy to ignore these turn signals, for fear of leaving our comfort zone. Perhaps it was even a turn signal that my boss readily accepted my resignation and told me I wouldn’t have to give notice! Whether I was lucky or had picked something up subconsciously from my parents, I’m grateful I chose not to ignore the turn signals all those years ago. I’d hope I don’t ignore turn signals in the future, should they appear.

The big stumbling block for many however is money.

I’m not the expert but surely most people who end up in careers they don’t enjoy do so because change would lead to a drop in income.

Again, while I’m not the expert on this one, I feel I can offer a unique perspective. That perspective is that I don’t think you need to earn a good income to be financially comfortable or wealthy. Sure, you need to earn enough to live and it’s important to be compensated fairly. However, I’ve seen people become financially independent and wealthy who do a range of different professions with different incomes; teachers, tradies, mining workers, lawyers, accountants, business owners, CEOs and surgeons.

At the same time, not all teachers, tradies, mining workers, lawyers, accountants, business owners, CEOs and surgeons are financially independent and wealthy. It has much more to do with their mindset and habits with the money they do earn, than the amount itself. It also has something to do with them getting some guidance and mentorship at a powerful stage in their lives.

Despite all that, there is no doubt it’s easier to reach financial independence with a higher income.

In this respect, I’ve found that you can earn a good income in any career or profession. There’s the traditional means of gaining promotions. There are ways to work overtime or cover for people when they are away as means of learning new skills. You might also be able to find ways you can help your employer earn more income, or spend less money, which can lead to more income for you. Not everyone works in an environment or company where that’s possible, but there is also the gig economy which has made it accessible for anyone to earn a little extra income or start a little side hustle.

I like Ashley’s perspective that it’s more important to do something every day that you get joy and fulfilment from. The unexpected passing of someone like Shane Warne at the age of just 52 hammers that point home. We don’t know what the future holds, so make the most of each day in the meantime.

Above all else, having a method for becoming financially independent is a sure-fire way to remove the biggest stumbling block that most of us have when it comes to chasing a career that gives us that joy, purpose and fulfilment – money.


I’d love to get your feedback.

If you have two minutes, would you mind replying to this email with some feedback on:
– What topics you’d like to read more about in upcoming blogs
– Any questions you have for me
– Any feedback on my book or the tools on my website

Thanks in advance!

James Fitzgerald