Originally from London, I'm a career change coach - co-founder of Careershifters and now I run online courses over at Screw Work Let's Play helping people figure out what they want to do in life and how to turn it into a successful career. Meanwhile I'm busy creating a life I love - currently it has me living in the mountains in Canada! So yes, escape wannabes - I'm here to help!
Five years ago Selina Barker quit her job as a Marketing Manager and set off to create a career that she could carry with her in a bag.
Today she is a successful online career coach, writer and adventurer - her latest adventures have had her living and working from a camper van for 6 months as she travelled around the UK, kayaking in Sweden, learning to surf in Costa Rica, living with artists in bohemian Buenos Aires, sailing around the remote islands of southern Chile, road tripping along the west coast of North America and hiking as many mountains and peaks as she can get her boots on. Right now you'll find her making a new home in Canada - writing, painting and getting ready for the ski season.
This is not the life she had planned - it is so much better.
I write a lot online in various places about creating your own career, living a created life and playing to your own rules. Best place to start is over at www.selinabarker.com
Right now I am living in the mountains of British Columbia, writing, painting, hiking, hanging out with friends and getting ready for the ski season.
And I'm busy on my latest project with Screw Work Let's Play - creating a digital course that gets people figuring out what they want out of their careers and then making it happen. It's fully action-based and gets results for people that continue to blow me away. It's the DIY version of what people pay me big bucks to do with them on a 1-2-1 basis.
I love what I do - helping people to create careers that give them the freedom, fulfilment and variety that they crave and seeing the difference it makes in their lives.
Oh and I blog. A lot. I always wanted to write so that's what I spend a lot of my time doing.
I go on adventures, I write, I coach.
I love it.
After leaving university I landed what I thought was my dream job as Marketing Manager for the Ecologist magazine. I stuck it out for 2 years, but I knew almost from the start that I wasn't made for a regular 9-5, office-based job. And I don't like having a boss. Doing this for the next 40 years filled me with horror, so I knew I'd have to find a different way of earning a living that gave me freedom, variety and let me do the things I loved... whatever those things may be.
I knew I didn’t want a life of 9-5 routine, stuck in an office and working for someone else, but all I ever seemed to get back from people was "Well, I’m afraid you just have to, that’s just how things are".
It was like a red rag to a bull - there's nothing that motivates me more than being told something isn't possible.
So I decided I was going to do things differently and create my own career off the beaten track. At the time there wasn't much guidance around on how to do this so I figured I’d just have to go and seek out people who were doing things differently and had found ways of working and living that provided them with the adventures, fulfilment, freedom and creativity they wanted out of life. I decided I'd learn from them, create that career and life for myself and then come back and help others to do the same...
Well I didn't have a career or new business in mind when I made my escape. I knew what I didn't want to do but didn't know what I did want to do, other than show people that another way of working was possible by creating a career for myself that I loved, that gave me freedom.
So I had to just leap into the unknown, ready to explore, figure it out as I went along and write about my experiences, always knowing that I wanted to one day use my experiences to guide and inspire others to do the same.
Approaching my career as an adventure - writing about my experiences, guiding others and showing what was possible when you put your mind to it - shaped my career until I now have it in the shape I'd always dreamed of - fitting neatly into a bag so that I have the freedom to roam wherever I want.
And I LOVE what I do. The moment I tried coaching I knew that if there was one thing I was born to do, it was this.
Leaping into the unknown is pretty terrifying, even if like me, you enjoy the rush of excitement that comes with it. In the early days, when I was trying out different ways of working, I never knew where my next paycheck would come from. I lived on a shoe string and sometimes only just managed to cover rent and food. This lasted for quite a few years. Personally I loved the challenge and became notorious for living a rich life on a shoe string, but it can be pretty stressful and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who is motivated by money and luxuries.
The best bits? Where do I start? This way of working has changed my life. I always say that this wasn't the life I had planned - it's infinitely better.
This is a quote by Harold Thurman that pretty much inspired me to take the leap:
"Don't ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and then go and do that because what the world needs, is people that have come alive".
I've spoken to hundreds of people that have made successful career changes and escaped the city and there is one thing that so many of them regret: that they didn't make the leap earlier - that they allowed themselves to be miserable for such a long time because they were too afraid to make the leap or didn't think it was allowed.
Don't wait. Not a second longer. Taking that leap will always feel scary so just do it. It will change your life in ways you never could have imagined.
Other than that, I surrounded myself with people who were creating their careers out of the things they loved - that's where I got most of my inspiration.