Things to Consider before “Taking the Leap” to Start Your Own Business

Things to Consider before “Taking the Leap” to Start Your Own Business

You may be at a point in your life where you’re feeling so done about having a “real” job.

You may realize you no longer are “juiced” by what you do, or perhaps you never were. Maybe you’ve been taking positions that don’t make your soul sing for the pay and the status.

Perhaps you have a position you enjoy but are working much harder and longer hours than you are being paid for and you’re starting to resent it.  

I understand. I’ve been there. I can still remember when I made the decision to leave my well-paying government job with benefits to join a management consulting company on a handshake.

 In the early 1990s, I attended a course on “Project Management in a Government Environment” where I ended up facilitating a small group and presenting the findings from our group. After the session, the trainer, who was a partner in a management consulting group, asked where I had learned to facilitate. I said, “I just do it”; I’m trained in therapeutic groups, and I used to do group and family therapy. He replied, “We need to talk.”

Six months later I was in the HR department of the government ministry I had been working for signing my resignation documents. At that time, I was informed I would lose the 3.5 years of contributions the government had made toward my pension plan if I left before the four-year mark. I thought for a moment about this and then realized I wanted to move forward. I was excited about trying something new and getting well paid to do it.

My Dad wondered why I would give up a good position and financial security without a contract. I knew in my heart and gut that this opportunity was the “carrot” I needed to become a consultant. Within six months of joining the consulting group, the partner who had brought me in had a philosophical split with the other two partners and started his own company. He asked me to join him, but I didn’t want to take sides. I started my own business, and the rest is history. Within two years I was making six figures and so enjoying working with my own clients. Since that time, I have launched four consulting and coaching businesses, have learned so much and been paid well. That said I needed the opportunity to work for another consulting group before I took the leap to strike out on my own.

I’m sharing this story and not recommending that you take the leap to start your own business if you feel undervalued, overworked, and perhaps underpaid, before taking into consideration some critical factors.

It is important to have some finances built up before you launch your own business. Contacts in the area you are planning to work in are important. I had co-chaired a national strategy for the federal government that had multiple partners. A number of them hired me as a facilitator and qualitative researcher to do studies for their organizations when I left my position, because they knew and trusted me. If you think you have consulting skills to offer it is helpful to join another consulting group to “learn the ropes”.

What about you? Are you thinking about “taking the leap” and striking out on your own? Perhaps you’ve done it and have some valuable lessons to share. I welcome your thoughts in the comments below.

Can We Really Manage Change?

Can We Really Manage Change?

For some time, I have questioned whether we can truly manage change whether it be in our personal, or our professional lives.

I would like to propose that instead of “managing change” we explore a new way of thinking about change. Managing something to me means we have control over it. Do we really have control when something comes at us out of the blue or is imposed on us such as when we get laid off or when our partner says they no longer love us?

What if you made friends with change and talked about embracing change rather than managing it?  What might that look and feel like?

I have developed a 5-step Art of Change Framework underpinned by the belief that embracing change is a creative process that opens us up to new possibilities and based on the metaphor that life is a dance.

This framework includes a process where you explore how you typically respond to change and why, and then receive tools and a framework to guide you on your transition journey.

The Art of Change Framework is underpinned by evidence from neuroscience, organizational development, the health-promoting and healing benefits of the arts, and eastern psychology. It is also based on my own journey and work with consulting and coaching clients on 5 continents for over 30 years.

In this process I draw on the work of William Bridges, an organizational theorist[1]. He differentiates between a life change and a life transition. He says that a change is external and situational; something that is tangible that we can see such as a separation agreement or a pink slip. Whereas a transition, is the internal psychological work we do to reorient and readjust ourselves to the new external reality.

Many people make the change but don’t do the transition work. This often results in them repeating the same patterns in their lives and remaining unhappy and unfulfilled. An example is someone who always goes after positions for the money without taking the time between jobs to identify their passions and their core values. Or a woman or man who marries three, four or five times, often choosing a spouse that looks similar to the previous one, and after the honeymoon phase revisiting the same issues as the previous relationships and remaining unhappy and unfulfilled or moving on to the next one. This is because they haven’t taken the time between relationships to find out who they are and what they truly value in a relationship.

We are physiologically hard-wired to fear change. Our amygdala (part of our brain) is continually scanning our environments for things that are different; things that might be perceived as a change. When it perceives a threat, it causes our body to release stress hormones that put us into fight, flight or freeze. In none of these modes are we in a position to make thoughtful decisions.

When we fear change, we tend to resist it and that has negative impacts on our bodies, our minds, our relationships, our workplaces and our bottom lines. If you’d like to learn more about the negative impacts of resisting change and the 5-step Art of Change Framework visit https://pamela-thompson.com.

I welcome your comments below. Do you believe we can manage change?


[1] Bridges, William, TRANSITIONS Making Sense of Life’s Changes, 2004.

What is Reinvention & What do We Need to Reinvent Ourselves?

What is Reinvention & What do We Need to Reinvent Ourselves?

During the pandemic many of us had the opportunity to reflect on our lives and our work. Many realized their work was not meaningful. The loss of some family and friends put us in touch with our own mortality. Many of us realized the importance of “seizing the day” and living in the present moment. You may have decided to start that new business you’d been thinking about for a few years or leave the partner you’ve been with as you realized you were settling. In order to move forward as result of such reflections we need to reinvent ourselves.

What do I mean by “reinvention”? To me, reinvention involves letting go of beliefs, behaviors and fears that are no longer serving us and opening to new possibilities such as living the life of your dreams, starting that business of your dreams, and having the relationship of your dreams.

Based on my own journey and work as a consultant and coach over the past three decades I have discovered that reinventing yourself requires four key ingredients or elements:

  1. Mindset – Having what Carol Dweck calls a “growth mindset”; believing that you have the capacity to reinvent yourself is key. Being flexible and optimistic are also valuable qualities.
  • Support – Having support from family and friends is important.
  • Tools and Processes – To help you understand how you respond to change and why, and how to embrace rather than resist change (e.g., my 5-step “Art of Change Framework”)[1]
  • Self-care – Having healthy habits such as eating well, exercising regularly, getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night, spending time in nature help to reduce stress and in turn boost resilience.[2]

How do you develop a “growth mindset” if you’ve noticed that you tend to dwell on challenges and tend to be pessimistic and a bit rigid in stressful situations (which is common for us all)?

Stay tuned for future posts. I’d love to hear some strategies you’ve found helpful to overcome challenges and be more open and optimistic when faced with the opportunity to reinvent yourself. I welcome your thoughts and comments below.  


[1]  https://pamela-thompson.com/strengthen-impact-world-dance-change/

[2] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/resilience

How to Process Sadness and Grief

How to Process Sadness and Grief

You may be feeling heavy-hearted and overwhelmed by all the conflict in the world, challenges you have faced during the pandemic; and to add insult to injury, the recent invasion of Ukraine. You may be feeling exhausted. Feeling like you want to return to bed a few hours after awakening. You may want to shake off all this sadness and heaviness and return to a lighter and more optimistic way of being.

I feel you. Recently I returned from a road trip to visit a dying friend. It was so sad to see how weak and frail she was having lost 50 pounds in the past 4 months. She texted and asked me to give her 15 to 20 minutes before arriving as it took that long for her to recover from unlocking her front door and returning to her living room couch.

It’s been 10 days since my return, and it took over a week until I started to feel more like myself. What have I found helpful to lift the heaviness from my heart and body, and support the return of my energy?

What did I do to help process the grief and sadness?

  • I listened to my body. When I felt tired, I laid down for a short while.
  • I created more space in my days. Rather than have my agenda “packed full” I removed and didn’t attend events that did not light me up.
  • I went for a walk in nature every day. When we walk in nature it clears our energy, reduces our heart rate and blood pressure, and strengthens our immune system.
  • I faithfully did yoga three times a week.
  • Rather that push the sadness away I tried to feel it and let it flood through my body. I’ve learned that resisting sadness and grief takes a lot of energy and in the long run it still lingers in my body.
  • I went for a massage with a woman who is also an energy worker. I felt much lighter the next morning after the massage.
  • I openly shared my sadness with people close to me instead of acting strong and soldiering on (a typical behavior I have used in the past).
  • I find writing, journaling, and doing something creative therapeutic; it takes my mind off the injustices in the world.
  • I put on my favorite music and dance around the kitchen.

What strategies have you found helpful to process your grief and sadness? I welcome your comments below.

Culling Again … Yet another Learning Experience!

Culling Again … Yet another Learning Experience!

I’m culling yet again! Less than two years ago my husband and I did a big downsize and moved from our dream home in the Okanagan Valley to a 2-bedroom rental apartment in Victoria. At that time I sold and gave away a lot of furniture, books, clothes …. When we moved from the rental apartment to our new townhome in late November, I culled yet again. Several months ago I committed to clearing out our Seacan (Big Steel Box) of remaining “bits and pieces” by the end of June this year. Now the pressure is on!

When I go through my boxes it feels like a life review. Recently I found a number of photos of my kids, friends, other members of my family and myself and had to make the tough decision about which ones to keep and which ones to throw away. I know that I could scan them all, but at this point in my life I don’t have the patience for that! Do your relate?

I’ve done a number of things throughout my life and have been going through courses I designed and taught; articles and documents I’ve written. On the one hand it’s felt good to realize what I’ve done, on the other I wonder how I used to accomplish what I did in a day. It’s a far cry from my current level of productivity!

I love books and have again gone through them and made decisions about which ones to give away. Some of them are in a “holding pattern” as I feel like I “should” read them again, but I question Is this a good reason to reread a book? Am I just afraid of letting go of more of my stuff?

So what am I learning from this experience? It’s teaching me to let go of things that no longer are of interest or bring me joy. It’s made me realize things that used to stir my passion, no longer do. My life has gradually switched from an almost total focus on activities involving my logical left-brain to a focus on my creative right brain and listening to my body; from a focus on achievement, to connection and creativity. It’s an interesting and yet at the same time, strange place to be. In the past I’ve always pretty well known the next step to take. Now I’m being asked to be patient, to create space and to notice what comes up. Have you ever been here? I also realize that when I let go, it opens the door for new people and possibilities to show up in my life. So I need to trust that I will be “shown the way”; all in good time.

Have you ever been in a “holding pattern” and wondered what your next step should be? What was that experience like for you? Have you culled your possessions recently or in the past? If so, what was that like for you?

I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences below, as that’s how we learn from each other. Until next time!