Is this Your Year for a New Career?


Are you still asking if it’s possible for you to change careers? Maybe a fourth instalment will help you decide. This week I’ve been speaking with Helen.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m Helen Whittaker, just turned 38 and I am a life coach and running leader.
2. What made you decide to become a coach? What were you doing before? Was it an epiphany or were you actively looking for a career change?
I used to work in telecoms sales which I’d sort of fallen in to. I started in the customer service department in my early twenties and moved around the company for 7 years until I was made redundant while on maternity leave in 2006. A chance gift of a book written by a life coach really struck a chord with me and made me see the world differently. I realised that I was responsible for the way I felt and could steer the direction of my life rather than just be a passenger. I was looking for a change of direction career wise and after having my second child in late 2007.
3. What process did you go through re: courses, work experience, business advice, etc.

I decided to undertake a distance learning life coaching course which I could fit around the children. I qualified in 2009 and started to build up my practice around their naps and preschool to begin with, slowly having more time to dedicate to the business.The running groups came later when I moved to a rural area and my oldest started primary school. I got involved in organising the village’s first annual 10k in May 2011 and noticed a huge increase in running around the village. Lots of people were keen to start running but didn’t know where or how to start. I did a qualification through one of the school mums, who had a training company, to get me started and have since done a Run England, Leadership in Running Fitness course. I started my first beginners running course in June 2011 and now offer beginner courses in various local locations.
I spent 2012 developing Change Your Mind – a 6 week email based course looking at emotional eating. I had spent most of my teenage years and early twenties miserably dieting and re-gaining weight a million times over and could never seem to keep it off. I had finally learned though, through studying to be a life coach, how to change the way I thought and felt about food. I knew from my life coaching experience so far what an endemic problem it was and I was so amazed and grateful to finally be free of my own eating demons that I wanted to help others achieve the same.
4. How long did the process take from inspiration to calling yourself a professional?
Inspiration struck in late 2006/early 2007 although it was a while before I did anything about it as I had 2 children under 2 years old from Oct 2007. By the time I came up for air and could think about what I wanted to do it was probably late 2008 and I’d say a year after that I was able to dedicate enough time to it for me to think of it as a career.
5. What does a typical day involve for you?
There is no typical day – that’s what I love! I have beginner running courses or one to one runners 4 out of 7 days so I’m out running whatever the weather. Monday is a busy email day with responding to my Change Your Mind course participants and I also volunteer in my kids’ school doing a Running and Fitness club on a Friday afternoon. The rest of the week is flexible and I split my time between Pilates, my own running training and developing the business further (marketing, networking, making new contacts and links with local businesses).
6. What are the best bits about your job?
Complete flexibility. If I want to be at my kids’ school play or sports day or assembly,  I can be.
7. And the worst bits?
Not having anyone to bounce ideas off. I sometimes wish I had a partner I could brainstorm with
8. Has the change been a good one for you?
The change has been amazing for us all. I am involved in the local school and community in a way that would be impossible if I were still working 2 hours away. And I am doing something that I love. Supporting positive change in people is my passion and so it doesn’t feel like a ‘job’ at all.
9. What advice would you give to anyone considering something similar?
Go for it. Life is too short to be unhappy.

Helen’s business is Turn That Leaf. You can find out more about her life coaching and running at or by calling her on 07899814013.
Helen Whittaker of Turn That Leaf

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