This post has nothing to do with food but plenty to do with me.

You may have noticed from the updated About section of this blog, that I have recently made some big changes. So when AMEX (American Express) brought to my attention, their latest campaign on “Potentialists”, I was super keen to take part. It’s a topic very close to my heart and I hope this post can help many who feel stuck (in work and life).

Social researcher Mark McCrindle explained that ”Potentialists are the one in five Australians who demonstrate a clear ambition to live a rounder life –one that mixes traditional career success with a refreshing appetite for new experiences. They are looking to make more of what they have, rather than always wanting more, and display an optimistic attitude that has previously been most associated with Generation Y.”

So here’s my story.

Three months ago, on the eve of my 25th birthday, I built up the courage and determination to resign from what used to be my dream job.

How it all started… I entered the professional world of advertising / interactive / digital media (whatever you wish to label it) straight out of uni. I studied a Bachelor of Design Computing at the University of Sydney which was a very broad but interesting course, allowing me to dabble in everything from eMarketing to 3D modelling to game development to interactive design and product design. At graduation, I felt that the degree hadn’t offered me enough so I went on to do a Graduate Diploma in Commerce, specialising in Marketing at the University of New South Wales.

Then I job-jumped several times; I always felt like it was the right time to leave once I had stopped learning new skills and wasn’t challenged enough. I thrived on testing new waters (and occasionally threw myself into the deep end) and loved moving diagonal on the corporate ladder. It meant I was ultimately able to easily expand my expertise and networks while giving myself the satisfaction and salary rises I knew I deserved.

While all of this was happening, I had of course picked up several hobbies. Blogging and producing my photographic memoir, I Ate My Way Through Singapore & Vietnam was one of them, but I also enjoyed dressmaking, web designing, web developing and photographing. These hobbies were pursued outside of work which meant that it was common for me to be up until 3am on a weeknight.

Business also became a hobby. After exposing myself to hundreds of business blogs, books and seminars, I found myself filled with business ideas and little time to do research let alone write business plans. I loved the idea of making something out of nothing.

I hit a snap point after two business ideas fell through which was when I realised I was letting a lot of opportunities go simply because I couldn’t commit to them 100%. So it was only logical that I take the next step and work four days a week.

I did that for about two months before deciding the one day off wasn’t enough.

In the first few months post-employment, I have become an events coordinator, a publicist, a book distributor, a copywriter and a digital marketing consultant specialising in food and hospitality. So until I’m hit with the responsibilities of marriage, children and a mortgage, I love not knowing where my entrepreneurial interests will take me in the next few years.

Here are 5 tips on what you can do next:

1. Surround yourself with inspiration.

Read and meet success stories. Check out the film Lemonade; a documentary which tours the lives of former advertising executives, post-GFC (Global Financial Crisis), from the moment they were fired through to how they saw it as an opportunity to discover long-held dreams that range from artist, to holistic healer, to coffee roaster.

There are plenty of social networks around which are filled with like-minded people, whatever your interest lies within.

2. Experiment with different hobbies

If someone had told me that I will be doing my hobby full time, three years ago, I never would have believed them. I think ultimately, everyone desires to spend more time on their hobbies, whether it be go-karting, painting, travel writing or jewellery-making so give everything a go until you find your passion.

3. Take advantage of flexible working arrangements

Taking the first step can be as simple as leaving work an hour early to attend a writing or cooking course.

4. Recognise who your support team is

Let your partner, family, friends and even colleagues know about your decision to explore your inner-artist and decide what compromises need to be made. Their support is invaluable.

5. Combat fear

Once you’ve fleshed out and faced the worst case scenario, opportunities tend to look brighter 🙂

Win a $300 travel voucher
Thanks to American Express, one lucky JENIUS reader will be able to take their inspiration to another level with a $300 travel voucher, helping them realise their travel potential.

To enter, simply leave a comment below in 25 words or less and tell me how this $300 travel voucher could help realise your potential.

Competition closes 19th November, 2009 at 11:59pm AEST and is valid to Australian residents only.

P.S. Don’t forget to drop by Global Gallery in Paddington, Sydney, this week to check out my book and photography exhibition! x


Congratulations to Kaz, who has won herself a $300 travel voucher to help realise her potential.


I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank all participants for sharing their passion, aspiration and goals. I am truly inspired.

Good luck with chasing your dreams!



    shorry caps
    i would use $300 travel voucher, and go to melb, and check out all their cupcakes stores
    and do the same with yd
    and see if i should open a cupcake business
    i love making them
    and my friends think they taste great
    and they are so moist, compared so some that you can find in syd they can be really dry, i dont like dry cupcakes :/
    there is no cupcakes business out west really, they are all out in the city way… so i could do well if i went ahead
    but i am scared to take the first step, of planning etc i just feel like .. it would be too much for me – as much as id love to – i duno.

  2. great story and very inspiring.
    I feel the same way about a lot of things you mentioned as well.
    With the $300, I would put it towards a trip to China/India/Brazil, because I want to see what’s happening over there in terms of online & social trends. I’m going to be heading there sometime next year, because there’s so much potential in these developing countries.

  3. Hi Jen, I’m new to your blog and find your articles a great read! 🙂 being a foodie/SOHO graphic designer…its a pleasure digesting your thoughts as they’re very similar to mine.
    I would use that $300 travel voucher to visit an island in the South Pacific to see how people with such different cultures and environment adapt and thrive in their surroundings. It will help me realise and inspire me to see pass the $ sign as the only means of success.

  4. It takes an incredible amount of courage to take a leap of faith and follow a dream. Congratulations on taking that leap Jen. Your story is inspiring and for such a young lady you are pretty much a role model for a lot of people your age. I would probably use the voucher to go back to New York. I took a leap and travelled on my own and I want to go back and see what else I can discover and find myself so I can realise my potential.

  5. I would use the 300 towards a trip to anywhere thats far away from my manager who has the smelliest feet in the world. Its like off blue vein cheese thats been left in the sun for weeks.

  6. The $300 travel voucher would be used to hire a dingy hotel room and write about the imgained lives of the other people staying there from the snippets of realism I get.

  7. It’d save the disappointment in my children’s eyes when I told them there would be no Theme Park visit on our Queensland trip this year.

  8. Thanks Jen
    I have been reading your blog for some time and think it is wonderful.
    This post is awesome timing as I got made redundant yesterday and am thinking about starting my own business. I was looking for some inspiration and it got delivered straight to my inbox. Thanks!
    Good luck with everything

  9. I would love 300 dolars in travel vouchers as my husband and I are trying to save up for a holiday in Adelaide next year as we have never been there, so tit would help us reach our target savings.

  10. Wow,great post!
    I have already made one “major leap” and felt the huge benefits of taking the road less travelled.
    Now I’d like to travel to Melb/Syd to “jump” into my new blog and passion.

  11. I admire your bravado for being able to quit & pursue the road unknown!
    I’d put the $300 towards a holiday to Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory as it’s been one of my top must do/see things.

  12. whoops, typo, that should read:
    i’d travel to my girlfriend’s home country and personally ask her father if he’d let me marry *HIS* daughter~
    (i know it’s not really a career move)

  13. Wow great post, i’ve always wondered how you’ve managed to do so many different projects over the years – looks like you’ve done alot to keep life interesting and challenging!.
    I’d use the $300 to put towards a visit to Cambodia again – I think i left my heart in Cambodia on my last trip. The Khmer people were some of the most generous and welcoming people I have ever met, and having spent a while volunteering at an orphanage – I have never felt more at peace and satisfaction with my life than in my short time in Cambodia. I’d like to see how I can realise my potential further, working in international development etc
    best of luck with the book launch, thankyou for the invite, but I won’t be able to attend (damn exams!)

  14. Hi Jen
    I am have just come from a similar situation Jen. on the eve of my last exam, i finally decided to not peruse a career in my degree which i have slaved over for 4 years. quitting my job as web developer, i gathered all my nerves and went head first in search of a job in a culinary industry to pursue my dream to become chef ignoring my parents great disapproval and some what anger.
    I too have started a blog detailing my new career as a chef to be
    The $300 dollars, I would put to my new set of knives, chef uniform or toward my culinary education which i hope to start in January of 2010.
    You story is inspiring best of luck to you

  15. I’d invest $300 in a trip to Sydney, where I’d certainly reach my full potential as a shopaholic, spending up in the trendiest of boutiques!

  16. I would love to win a 300 dollar travel voucher, it is my wedding anniversary and would love to put it towards some travel for me and my fantastic Hubby!!

  17. My potential to hit the chocolate tours of Sydney and Melbourne and make a huge dint in their finery would be very obtainable with $300!

  18. Hi Jen – I am a fan of your blog – I actually stumble across your blog just recently while doing research for my new business. I have been trying to launch a new business selling jarred curry paste and spice mixes. Food is my passion. That’s all that I can think about whole day. I love cooking and love to feed my family and friends with my creation. Last year in November my husband lost his job – we just got married few months before that and just bought a house 3 months before he lost his job. We got married in August, my mother passed away in September and my husband was jobless by November. It was a big year for me that make me re-assess a lot of things. Both of us always knew that some day we will be breaking out of our 9 to 5 office career. But none of us have the courage to break out of this sense of security – not until all of this happen around me it make realise nothing is absolute in this world – this world is full of uncertain things and time is so precious that everymoment that you have – you have to use it to work hard to full fill your dream. And just like that – the fear of commiting myself into something new but always love becomes so easy. But things does not happen straight away. We are struggling to raise capital and when we do have the financial back up that we need, we can’t find the right location to start our operation. But more than anything – it make me realise that every thing that is worth fighting for does not come easy. And all of these just enriched your experience and capabilities. There was never a time where I think to give up. The difficulties that we have been facing through out the process just make us more determine and creative in finding out solutions for our problems. We figure that we have to do something and not let anything in our way. And now we are in the middle of launching our business online and setting up work space at home. We thought – if can’t find the right lcoation to set up our production site – lets create one by utilising what we currently have and re- assess how can do it within the resources that we have now in our hand. You are one of my inspiration – when I read your Blog – its opens up my eyes that I am not insane to want to do this so badly – and I am not alone and That my dream is achievable as long as I have carouge to make it happen and just never give up. This 300 dollars I will use for avery good use – towards a canon digital LSR camera that I can use to to take photos of my foods and new products to constanly make my online store interesting – so that people can share my passion. My life is now filled with adventour. Every day and every moment is filled with inspiration and exciting work towards this dream. Winning this prize mean I can straigt away buy the camera and not have to wait another few more months – because everyting that we have have been allocated towards making all this happen.
    Metta Li,

  19. Hi Jen,
    I felt so proud while reading your post, taking actions to reach for your dreams (and encouraging others to do so) is an amazing thing to do, albeit, not always easy. But good things in life comes to those who persevere.
    Having worked for one year since graduating from a 4 year uni degree, I then realized that it wasn’t what I wanted from life. I constantly craved for something more, beyond what my job then offered. I realized that I wouldn’t be satisfied with this career path for the rest of my life, it would’ve been a long arduous journey.
    Well, long story short, took the plunge, quit the job.
    Started to look for ways that can help me fulfill these goals. Can’t say I have entirely found my mojo, but it’s slowly taking shape. Life is more enriching indeed.
    Alright, now for my 25 words or less on how this $300 travel voucher could help realise your potential.
    “Love to be a travel writer, this $300 travel voucher will kick-start my journey and from there, to whenever the winds may bring me.”

  20. Writing a children’s book has been a dream of mine- I’d travel to Tasmania and get inspiration from the rainforests to jot down my ideas!

  21. After working 6 years in the IT/New Media Industry I have been made redundant. During those 6 years I was very comfortable, not really learning anything new, doing the same thing over and over again. Now is the perfect time for me to be uncomfortable and challenge myself and there’s no better way that heading overseas to an unknown destination where I can realise just how strong a person I can be when put in a situation where I know no one, can’t wait!

  22. Hi Jenius, I love your blog! Can’t wait to buy the new book as well.
    Anyway, I’d use the $300 voucher to fly down to Melbourne. I’m a jewellery designer and I’d travel down to have some intimate, one-on-one meetings with owners of boutiques and cute little experimental art shops that I’d like to be stocked in. I could bring a showcase of my work, talk about the chance to create exclusive items for each store, and hopefully sign an agreement! Getting my product out, getting more buyers, lovers and more PR is the most important thing right now in making my business a success.

  23. Without a job at the moment, I would use the $300 to put towards a tafe course and then once I get a job, reflect on my past and feel grateful that I was given the opportunity to fulfill my dream.


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