Very few of us find our purpose on the first try. The early years of our careers are about experimentation — and making mistakes that teach us who we are, what we need, and how to find the work we love.
But then there are the “career ruts,” those moments in our lives when our work doesn’t spark joy but we’re paralyzed by the idea of making a significant change. A career pivot sounds scary, if not impossible. What do you do when it feels like you’ve worked too hard to change paths?
We spoke with three women who made massive career changes, leaving work that no longer sparked joy behind in favor of starting their own businesses as professional KonMari Consultants. Here is their best advice for finding your way out of a career rut and into a life that sparks joy.
Tell us a little about your career backstory. What led you to where you are today?
Tanya Sanyal (Organised Joy): I spent twelve years in sales on the trading floor of a prominent investment bank in London in a fast-paced and competitive environment. I stumbled upon Marie Kondo in 2016. Against my more cynical instincts, I fell in love with the “life-changing magic” of the Method. Confronting everything I owned gave me a powerful sense of achievement, confidence and clarity about what brought me joy. Eventually, I found the courage to step off a career ladder that was both comfortable and tiring because it did not align with my values. Five years, a career change, two young daughters and a global pandemic later, I completed my training to become a certified KonMari Tidying Consultant.
I had launched a furniture tech startup as a side hustle on maternity leave and genuinely attended the KonMari course in 2020 out of curiosity and not for a career change! But during the course, I realized this work aligned beautifully with the lifestyle I truly wanted. Organised Joy (my KonMari business) was born out of my passion for Marie Kondo’s wisdom, my love of interior design and my belief that life is too short to settle.
Melinda Ferrier (Live Life Organised): I was a Regional Director for a national not-for-profit organization managing multiple programs (Disability, Child Youth Family, Mental Health). In 2021, my role was made redundant. I was exhausted and stressed, so I decided to have a holiday before job searching. During my break, I happened upon Marie’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
I had some spare time on my hands (to put it lightly), so I completed my tidying festival. The book lived up to its name. I realized my career was not joy-sparking. And I decided to quit the corporate treadmill. I googled and discovered the KonMari Consultant Program. I signed up immediately. I worked through the certification process and set up my own business Live Life Organised, to support others to live a life that is simpler, calmer and full of joy. Every day is now a joy-sparking day.
Mrg Simon (Designed2Stick): After 30 years of practicing corporate law in electric power generation, I took the leap to become certified [as a KonMari Consultant] when my husband took a new job in a zoo halfway across the country.
I had a slow start during the pandemic but have since gained enough experience to write a book inspired by my clients called My Intentional Year: Organizing My Life for Joy and Meaning. It’s an annual planner that takes people through the process step-by-step with articles, tips and illustrations to color.
Most of my lawyer friends can’t believe the huge change I’ve made and I now specialize in tidying lawyers’ offices, along with a general KonMari practice. I enjoy using my creative and analytical skills to help others, and I want to share my message of Intentional Living with others!
Was there an exact moment when you realized your career path wasn’t right for you?
Tanya: Not one exact moment, but I started yearning for more meaningful work a few years in. I often tried to brush it aside as there were so many great things about my role on the trading floor of a major investment bank: the fast pace, a steep learning curve, working with brilliant people, the lucrative pay, the travel and client dinners. I definitely told myself, “Just one more year” more than once in my 12-year career, especially when the Sunday night dread became strong!
“I realized my career was not joy-sparking. And I decided to quit the corporate treadmill...Every day is now a joy-sparking day.”
Melinda: Yes! When I looked at a job ad that matched my skills and work history perfectly, I felt physically ill at the thought of undertaking the role. This came at a time when my parents commented that they had never seen me so happy in a role (as a KonMari Consultant).
Mrg: I knew for a number of months that my job was draining all the joy out of my life. I had my 20-year anniversary in December 2017, and it was clear then that the job that had excited and challenged me for years had morphed into a pale version of its former self. So, after discussing with my husband if we could get along on one salary, I ended it all one Monday morning in January — no Plan B, no job waiting in the wings, not even any leads. I was just fed up and had to get out. I’m still friends with many people I worked with, but it was no longer filling my cup to go to work every day. (I’m still a lawyer with over 30 years of experience, but I no longer actively practice law. And that’s a massive burden off my shoulders!)
“[My career change] did not start with a grand plan or self-declared passion but rather a small step towards something I was curious and excited about. Building my skills and interests made me more confident and gave me the courage to eventually leave the known for the unknown.”
What’s your best advice for someone who knows their career isn’t right but is uncertain what to do about it?
Tanya: Nurture your curiosities rather than worrying about finding your one true passion. Elizabeth Gilbert writes beautifully about this idea. About five years before I left my job, I started experimenting more with interests outside work that brought me lots of joy — getting into fitness classes, taking a short sabbatical to travel around South America, co-founding a tech start-up on maternity leave and Marie Kondo-ing my home. All of these things did not start with a grand plan or self-declared passion but a small step towards something I was curious and excited about. Building these skills and interests made me more confident and gave me the courage to eventually leave the known for the unknown.
Melinda: Reflect on your passions and strengths and what truly excites you and aligns with your values. Visualize that role that will make you excited to wake up every morning. Then explore different options with curiosity, stay open to new possibilities, seek guidance from mentors, and take small actionable steps (e.g., research industries, attend workshops, update your resume highlighting transferable skills). While the uncertainty can be unsettling, this is a chance to craft a career that brings you joy and fulfillment.
Mrg: For other people in a similar position, I wouldn’t recommend quitting before you have another job lined up. Not only is there a financial strain, but the emotional strain of being a valued team member for nearly 20 years and the stark reality of nothing to do and nowhere to go every morning put tremendous mental pressure on me. I went from working 60 hours a week doing complex legal work to nothing overnight; I underestimated how much I had tied my identity to the job, and it took a long time to work through those issues. Fortunately for me, it was during this time that I discovered Marie Kondo’s Netflix series and her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. The rest is history!