Oona Collins on: Will you take the plunge in 2019? A ten-step path to career realisation (featured in Prime Resi)

Jan 14th, 2019

Credit: Prime Resi – Will you take the plunge in 2019?

Is significant change calling you in 2019?

I have been struck over the past year by the growing number of successful clients talking openly about wanting to find purpose and more fulfilment in their work and lives. In the property market, the impact of technology, Brexit and demographic trends is creating opportunities and uncertainty in equal measure. In response, it seems more of us are ‘taking the plunge’ to do something different.

You are in the driving seat of your career and we often have more choices than we realise – a new role within the same organisation, change company, or set up your own business. Sometimes an unexpected choice presents itself. Here is some advice to help build a path to your future.

Maybe you have a burning ambition and want to make it happen. Maybe your motivation is fuelled by pain and discomfort – work and personal life out of balance, lack of recognition or career opportunities, a clash of values or an unsupportive boss; or maybe it is not your choice – a life event such as redundancy. Whatever the driver, you will know when you have reached the point: something has to change.

‘We often have more choices than we realise’, says Oona



1. Change is a path, not a one-stop destination

The first step takes courage. So remember that the first change may not be ‘perfect’ but it will get you closer, and clearer on the ideal. My own entrepreneurial journey includes sports coach in Australia, head-hunter in Toronto, and property director in Asia. My executive coaching journey crystallised when I resigned as director and was asked to coach a team. This led to setting up Potential Plus International in 2001 and finding what I call ‘home’.

2. What do you really want and why?

Ask yourself: Why do you want this change? What do you want it to bring about for you? Do you want more freedom, control, more family balance? Now ask yourself: What are my greatest strengths? What are my values? What am I passionate about? Do I prefer giving direction or taking it? Also, reverse the perspective: What drains me? What am I tolerating that I no longer want to?

3. Work with a mentor or coach

A coach or mentor can provide process, structure and perspective to calm a restless mind to make decisions. A client who was offered a promotion could not understand her lack of excitement. It transpired, as we talked, that she had identified an underperforming division, and wanted the chance to turn it around. She made her case to the Board changed roles and is now MD of a fast-growing, profitable division.

4. Be Prepared: ‘What if…?’

If you choose to set up your own business think about the end game: do you want to build a business to grow and sell, or do you want it to create a good lifestyle? Consider the practical aspects: What are the risks I am willing to take to make this happen? Do I have enough capital to buffer me for the first year? Who will be my first client?  The question ‘What if?’ has served me well throughout my life. Whatever the situation, think of all the possible pitfalls and have a plan for each one to reduce the risk of surprise.

5. Find a ‘bridge’ solution

A complete change of direction can sometimes be daunting. Depending on your circumstances, consider a gradual transition. A client has reduced their role part-time to give them the time to plan and focus on achieving their ambition and create a plan with specific timelines.

7. Collaborate with others

Working through a process, they realised their differences are in fact their greatest strength and key to their success

Whatever path you choose, know your strengths and skills, and find others who can complement you. I worked with two partners of a successful business whose difference in style was causing considerable tension. Working through a process, they realised their differences are in fact their greatest strength and key to their success.

8. Make it easy for people to say ‘yes’

Whether pitching to new clients or your board, anticipate objections. A client put herself forward to take on a new role in a sister company. She knew that a key objection would be ‘but we can’t lose you.’ She identified her successor, planned the handover and presented this when the question arose.

9. Regularly check in against your purpose

Despite the best intentions, your clarity and focus can get lost amidst the daily operations. Review regularly where you are against your plan, so that you can adapt to changing client or company demands whilst staying focused on your overall goal.

10. If it does not work first time – try again

I love Henry Ford’s quote: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently”. Embrace setbacks as learning opportunities. Inevitably people look back at these times as invaluable cross-roads to a better path.


Above all, aim to be your biggest and best self.

Victor Frankl said: “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” Whatever choices you make in 2019, above all, aim to be your biggest and best self. Celebrate your successes and achievements.


And enjoy the journey!


Read the article on Prime Resi here: