In February 2016, I made a phone call that would change my life. At that point, four and a half years had already passed since we were granted permission to move to Australia. That meant that it was decision time and I called Jenny, our migration agent, to see if there was any chance of getting an extension. We weren’t ready to go at that point in our lives. Someday yes, but not then. ‘Can’t we just push it back a couple of years?’ I asked.
It was a short call with a clear message from Jenny:
‘No! If you don’t go now, you’ll never be able to live in Australia.’
I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me that ‘I’ll never be able to’ do something, it fires up something deep inside of me up and pushes me into action.
To cut a very long story short, six months later we were on Flight BA15 bound for Sydney, our house in the UK rented and our possessions floating somewhere in the Indian Ocean. They say that ‘success loves a deadline’ and we had to be in Australia by August 15th so mountains were moved to reach that deadline.
Was it stressful? In a word: ‘YES!’ What anyone tells you, change is hard and full of mixed emotions. But was it worth it?
Well over two years later, I can answer that question with the full benefit of what happened next. YES, it absolutely was.
Moving countries requires a lot of energy to sort out the logistics, there are so many practical and emotional things to do that drain your energy. But once you’re through the other side, new opportunities for growth will open up as long as you don’t look back for long, embrace your new environment and are willing to put yourself out there.
From the vantage point of today, I realise how easy it would have been to have just stayed in the UK. We had a really nice lifestyle. There was no real reason to move in truth apart from the desire to live overseas for a period and to create new experiences and opportunities for growth.
If you’re at a point where you’re considering a shake-up of some sort, here are 12 insights from my own shake-up which I hope brings you confidence, clarity and the energy to take action.
1. When you change your environment, gradually you change as well.
A big driver for us to come to Australia was to fulfill a deep need to spend more time promoting the gifts of wellness. I felt that Australia could help me connect with that purpose more deeply than the UK. Well has it? In a word, yes. I was very lucky. I was connected to Luke Baylis, Founder of SumoSalad, before I left the UK, met him two days after I landed and joined SumoSalad two weeks later simply because his purpose and mine are so aligned. It has been a hair-raising, fascinating and exciting journey of transformation working for SumoSalad. Food and nutrition have always been a passion and interest for me and working in the food industry has taught me first-hand of the challenges of building and scaling a fresh food business to feed the nation.
2. The power of the Network.
When I arrived in Australia, I had 9 connections. Two years later, that 9 has grown to 519. I’ve prioritised building my network which has been super easy as I love meeting new people and building relationships. It has also been awesome connecting people from my old world with my new world through the power of events and social media. Probably the biggest example of this is the collaboration with Chris Cummings to bring his Wellbeing@Work Conference to Sydney. It was awesome. On a smaller scale, the creation of the private Wellness Weekdays Facebook Group has provided a forum to enable me to connect and create a cross-border community of people who want to be well. We have members now based on three continents: Europe, America, and Australia. It’s a small, exclusive group, but if you feel that you can benefit from a support group, request membership here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WellnessWeekDays/
3. Everyone has a story to tell.
The thing about Australia is that everyone is from someplace else. I’ve met lots of people and everyone has a fascinating story to tell of where they’re from and how they came to now be living in Australia. One of the most fascinating stories came from an 81-year-old woman who arrived in Australia in 1955 after literally being expelled from Egypt as part of the Suez Crisis. It took her six months to arrive in Sydney Harbour penniless, but glad to be alive and far away from Egypt and Europe.
They say that you become like the five people you associate with the most. Apart from my family, those five people have changed since moving to Australia and I have changed my behaviour as a result. How? Back in the UK, I used colourful adult language a few times a year if that. I also never addressed anyone as ‘mate’, and certainly never greeted someone with ‘what’s happening?’ That’s all changed now. I now use colourful adult language a few times a day, call every other person ‘mate’ and do indeed greet people with a ‘what’s happening?’ that always gets some interesting responses. I’ve resisted, though, the temptation to refer to ‘Data’ as ‘Darta’ despite using this word at least twenty times a day!
5. Always on.
Before working in the hospitality industry, I would head into a cafe and have a relaxing experience. Now, a trip to a cafe, health store or restaurant is a research experience packed with a stimulus that leads to new ideas. Thanks to WhatsApp, Facebook,and Instagram, I’m able to capture and share these ideas with my equally ‘always on’ colleagues. I just love working in food, hospitality and wellness, but it’s so easy to lose boundaries as life and work blend together.
6. People have more time.
Coming from London where everyone is in a rush and no one seems to have time to just catch-up, the less frantic, more community feel of doing business in Australia is refreshing. I rarely get emails on weekends or during the evenings. I’m sure this will all change as Australia fights to become part of the global stage, but it’s nice to experience for a bit.
7. Sunglasses are a must.
Before moving to Australia, I didn’t even own a pair of sunglasses. Now, I never leave home without them. I got my eyes tested after a few months of living here and was told that small spots had appeared on the back of my eyes due to the sun. That was enough to sell me a prescription pair of sunglasses that have become a permanent fixture on my face!
8. All Aussies don’t live in Bondi and eat vegan food.
Outside of Australia, the perception of Australia is one of the beaches, sunshine, and surfers. Inside Australia, you realise that this perception isn’t quite accurate. Over 11 million Australians are overweight, have at least one chronic health condition, and most (93%) don’t eat the recommended amount of fruits and veggies. We’re going to change some of these numbers.
9. Europe is closer than you think.
The big downside of living in Australia is the distance from the UK. I’ve tried hard to maintain a presence in the UK whilst building a whole new life in Australia. How? By frequent travel to the UK and by making the video conferencing platform, Zoom, one of my best friends. Thanks to Zoom, I’ve been able to build an international coaching business and keep in touch with friends and family. It’s not nearly the same as meeting in person, but I don’t think I could have lived here BZ (before zoom). We’ve also been successful in encouraging friends and families to jump on a 24-hour flight to come and visit us which has been great as we love sharing our new life with friends and family from back home. Unfortunately, my parents are getting older and frailer and haven’t been out, hence I’ve been back so frequently. I hope one day to see them sail into Sydney Harbour. We’ll see.
10. Mainstream Australia insights.
Before coming to Australia, I was pretty niche and purist from a food and wellness perspective, hanging out with wellpreneurs and very health-conscious people which gave me a false picture of reality. Since working for Sumo, I have had access to a much more mainstream audience which has given me far deeper insights on the current problems to solve. Clever advertising, spurious research, and media sensationalism have left the average person bewildered, confused and sick. As a marketer myself, a health coach, corporate wellbeing consultant, wellness enthusiast and member of the food industry, I know that many of the problems we’re seeing today could be solved with some simple lifestyle changes starting with the power of the food we eat. This knowledge drives me to do what I do.
11. Digital disruption and transformation.
When I first started to work with Sumo, I couldn’t initially see the connections with working at RBI. After all, RBI was a large media/data/information business with multiple business units and a lot of resources. Sumo was a much smaller, franchised brand with multiple stores and small company resources. Then I started to see the commonalities. Both are essentially ‘food businesses’. RBI’s products and services feed customers with quality insights and knowledge that help them make better decisions and choices. Sumo’s products feed customers with quality nutrients that feed their bodies and minds. Both too have been on journeys of transformation with twin tracks. Whilst RBI successfully migrated its declining magazine business to a data, analytics and software business, Sumo is on the journey of transforming its food court restaurant business to an omnichannel wellness brand, a strategy which is has taken a major leap forward with the launch of Sumo Well. Both experiences have taught me to embrace rather than resist change, to get used to running with a headwind for a while, with the knowledge that the wind direction will, at some point, change.
I thought I had good self-awareness when I was in the UK. After all, working for a large corporate brought with it the benefit of leadership and soft skill training and plenty of opportunities for both giving and receiving feedback. However, my self-awareness and knowledge has taken a big leap forward after attending Tony Robbin’s Date with Destiny in Cairnes. What an interesting experience. I went there thinking I was pretty together but was forced to look into the Mirror of Truth. I emerged a more connected, more compassionate and more empathetic leader with a bigger desire to be a force for good than ever before.
HOW TO SERVE
Like it or not, we’re on this earth for a relatively short period. Time passes quickly and many of us make time the enemy.
There’s never enough time.
I believe that good and bad life events offer learning experiences every day and each of us has the opportunity to change our destiny if we choose to. Fear holds us back from making changes. Of course, as we get older, the fear can become greater, and the easiest thing to do is to just stay as you are.
Moving to Australia was a scary experience for me, but it taught me to dive into the fear, surrender and have faith that everything will work out just fine. Living in a new country has changed the destiny of our lives and opened up new opportunities and experiences. I’m grateful for this Australian Adventure and am keen to help others channel their fears into positive raw energy. Through my RAW Energy platform, I offer:
- One to one coaching packages with clients who need guidance, clarity, support, and accountability. I work with both men and women at all different life stages, but they have one thing in common: they all want to make a difference. My focus is helping them crystallise that ‘something’ and channel their stress into positive energy. Get in touch and let’s have a conversation.
- Business transformation consultancy. I work with brands in the wellness, health or environmental space which includes the media, technology, FMCG and service spaces. You have a clear social purpose but need objective guidance and support to help balance the commercial realities of today with the bigger purpose of tomorrow.