Why you need to give ‘it’ a go – career change lessons I learned from paragliding

Most of us have a wish list of intriguing, unexplored ‘its’. Career wise maybe you crave the flexible, freelance life. Perhaps you’re keen on the juggle and weave of a portfolio career. If you’re a multipod who’s drawn to dozens of careers, your ‘it’ list is probably epic.

Outside of your career, which adventures and activities head your list? How often do you cross things off? What happens when you give one of your ‘its’ a go?

The ’it’ of skydiving

For as long as I can remember I wanted to skydive. I loved the idea of leaping from a plane and having a bird’s eye view of the world. I imagined feeling the rush then floating gently to earth.

Lots of one time and regular skydivers told me how amazing it was and how I just had to do it. All my holiday planning included googling skydiving options.

Despite heaps of research and plenty of opportunities, there were lots of reasons why I didn’t realise my goal to get airborne. A back injury, lack of funds, an equally inspired someone to share the experience and general fear fuelled procrastination got in the way.

I challenged myself to jump before I turned 30. But it never happened. The longer I left it, the higher my expectations became. If I could just ditch my fears and take the plunge, I knew I’d love skydiving.

At last, the moment arrived in Queenstown, New Zealand. I saw people paragliding over the lake. I’d seen this on my first visit ten years ago, and I’d regretted not doing it then.

The test flight


OK, so paragliding is not exactly skydiving. But I decided it was a solid baby step in the right direction. I’d build my nerve for taking the much scarier step out of an actual aeroplane. I was super excited to give it a go. Finally, I’d be strapped to a parachute and glide gently down to earth!

But I hated everything about it.

I shook with gut-wrenching terror and could hardly eat breakfast. I had hideous motion sickness as we circled down. The guy I was strapped to was a limited conversationalist which meant all I could concentrate on was my fear and nausea. Besides being scared, I was also bored. The lovely view was identical to the one from the safe, free viewing platform next to where we had taken off.

None of the great things I’d heard or imagined about being momentarily airborne were true for me. Once I got my land legs back, I felt hugely disappointed. Thanks to paragliding, my lifelong skydiving dream was shattered.

I’d listened to dozens of inspiring stories, so I get that skydiving is heart-stoppingly fun for others. As actor Will Smith explains in this hilarious clip, you just have to make it to the other side of terror.

The takeaway

But until I stood heart pounding and poised to jump off the edge of that cliff, I couldn’t possibly have known how it would be for me.

I had to do what the Japanese call genchi-genbutsu, which roughly translates as ‘getting your boots on’. In short, I had to go and see for myself.

In career change, as in skydiving, we can’t test our assumptions or validate our ideas at a distance. We have to get our boots on and head out into the real world. Then we can decide to take baby steps or to strap on a parachute and leap into the great unknown.

Got a career change ‘it’ list? Let’s cross something off.

By Jo Green, Career Change Coach

I know that when you find what you love, heart and soul, your life changes. I work every day with people who are reshaping their current careers, starting new enterprises or searching for a new direction. Basically I help people who don’t like their job to figure out what to do instead!

As a Careershifters and Firework Advanced Certified Coach and experienced career changer myself, I can help you figure out what fulfilling work looks like for you.

Drop me a note to organise a free 20 minute consultation to chat about your career change and how coaching could help.