Chatting with the bubbly Louise Thompson, you'd never guess that a few years ago, she was so ill she couldn't dress herself.
The popular Herald columnist and life coach was bedridden for 18 months with adrenal fatigue, a byproduct of her stressful job.
Until then, Thompson had enjoyed a successful career in media, managing annual budgets of more than $30 million and over 100 staff. The problem wasn't the hours but her inability to switch off. Even on the rare occasions she wasn't stewing over work, she'd race back over the bridge to teach yoga at her Northcote studio, or spend her evenings studying (at the time she was training to be a life coach). Aware of the irony that her wellbeing passion projects were only adding to her health woes, she now views that period as a blessing, as it forced to her reassess her priorities. Today, she still runs her studio albeit with other teachers helping. But the "corporate escapee" is focused on her role as a life coach and columnist. She has also penned the book The Busy Woman's Guide To High Energy Happiness. Now she mentors others who are wanting to make changes in their lives - in particular, their careers.
"I just felt called to do this," she says.
Thompson is not alone in her desire to pursue something more meaningful in her career.
Recent statistics from seek.co.nz show that 75 per cent of Kiwis would like to change jobs, and that 65 per cent would like to work in an industry other than their current one.
The Seek report found that motivations for changing industries are largely for personal reasons.
Thompson says often people in their 30s or 40s feel stuck in roles they started when they were 15 or 20 years younger, having studied for something their parents wanted them to do, or started a career in an industry they felt was a secure prospect but didn't "light them up".
Taking action on these desires is another story. Despite job applications on the site rising 13 per cent from the same time last year, only 35 per cent of survey respondents said they intended to change jobs in the coming year.
Fear holds people back from switching to something they'd enjoy much more, says Thompson.
"There's this urban myth that we can't make money doing something we love. When we believe that it keeps us stuck in a job that's wrong. Many of my clients earn good money doing jobs they don't like very much. Imagine how much more money you could make doing something you do love? You'd want to get up on Monday morning, do extra hours, come up with way more creative ideas. You're way more expansive about the way you tackle that job when it's something you're truly into."
What's more, she adds, when you start on the right path, clients, opportunities and fortuitous connections start to appear, "so the money stuff becomes way less of an issue".
Even so, changing careers is challenging, especially for those with responsibilities - paying the mortgage, looking after young families. Often it can mean the need for retraining, which can be an expensive business. And like all things unknown, there's the natural trepidation of stepping outside of our comfort zones, to a life where the money, status and skillset, at least initially, might not be what we're accustomed to.
Thompson says the way around these obstacles is to break down big changes into more manageable parts.
"People get really scared thinking it's this enormous decision and - boom, life then changes on a dime. Whereas in reality, it's stepping towards it. You might do a night class on the subject you're passionate about, you might do a side business.
"You might spend time on a weekend doing something in the field you're into to check if you really like it, and to see if it does really energise you."
One client Thompson says was burning herself out in an event management role had always wanted to be an actor. Rather than suddenly upping sticks for Hollywood, she took small, practical steps towards her goal. First she took acting classes. Then she quit her job and took on marketing contract work, allowing her the time to go to auditions.
"Now she's in plays, she has an agent and a boyfriend who's an actor, she has new friends. And she looks 10 years younger. Plus she still earns a living."
The best thing you can do if you want to change careers, says Thompson, is to define your ideal position.
"When we focus on what we don't want, we get more of what we don't want. It sounds obvious but so many people struggle to define what it is they do want.
You need to get really clear. Do you want more managerial responsibility? A more creative role? It's really empowering to turn it around. Let's say you don't want to be travelling so much. So you want a job where you work three days a week based in Auckland, and the commute is 30 minutes from your house. That's something you can work towards rather than just moaning about all the things you don't like about your current situation."
She also recommends researching the role online and talking to people who already work in your industry. Planning pays off too: saving up a percentage of your income so you have a three-six month buffer when you're moving into new territory.
That might mean restructuring the family finances, downsizing property or doing without a few luxuries.
It also pays to realise that finding meaning doesn't have to mean a change in career.
Thompson says her clients often realise they can get that sense of satisfaction through volunteering or pursuing fulfilling activities in their free time.
"I'm seeing a lot more people do volunteering," she says, an increase that Seek is catering to, including a section on their website for those willing to give up their time for free.
Ultimately though, the key to career change is to push through the fear, says Thompson.
"If we've got something that's really in us it's something we should explore."