Escaping the 9 to 5 with Anita Perkins

leave corporate job and follow your passion with Anita Perkins

This month’s interview is with Anita Perkins. Having recognised that she was reaching the point of burnout, she made the ‘brave’ decision (although she doesn’t relate to that word herself) to quit her government job and explore what else might be out there. She took a year off to travel, including a trip to Everest base camp, and ended up setting up her own consultancy, through which she does a wide variety of different projects.

Watch the full interview below or read on to find out more about the moment when she decided that she needed to make a change, how she worked with both a life coach and a business coach to get the support that she needed, and what she’s enjoying most about her new life as an independent consultant.

Leave your corporate job to follow your passion

Anita Perkins comes from a background in academia, having completed a PhD in German literature. After she took up a role in government in Wellington, she spent the next six or seven years working in international relations as well as in environment and the arts. Last year, she started asking some important questions about what she was doing with her life, taking a year out to travel, hike to the Everest base camp, and talk to a lot of different people. As a result, she came up with the idea of becoming self-employed – and started Anita Perkins Consulting.

1) At what moment did you decide it was time for a change?

Adventure is out there! Travel played a big part in Anita’s transition from her government job to setting up her own consultancy.

I had a few different jobs in government, and the last permanent job that I was doing I really enjoyed, and I was quite passionate about the work – but I was doing the job of maybe four people. You just notice little things, like when people ask you, “How’s it going?” and you say, “Oh, quite busy and stressed,” and get a bit sick of the sound of your own story, and you’re just not sleeping as well… things like that. I think that’s where you get to the point of saying, “Oh, I need to make a change.”

There was actually one particular night where I just didn’t sleep and, in the morning, I rang my parents and said, “Something has to change this time. This is the definitive moment where I have to make a choice to step away from this.”

I guess I’ve always had various role models. Both of my parents were self-employed at different times – my dad was a musician, and my mum was a counselor, before they retired. And I think having done my PhD, I also got used to motivating myself to show up every day and do the work. I’ve always toyed with the idea, then looked into several things, and also worked with a life coach, and I felt, “I might as well give this a go – and I have the friends, family, and financial context that allows me to do that.” It’s easy to get wound up about it and worried sometimes but, at the end of the day, the worst that could happen is that I would go back to a normal job.

2) What was the biggest challenge you faced in making the change?

I think walking away from something, you feel a real sense of responsibility to the work area and the people that you’re working with. It feels hard to walk away from that and from what you know, and the security that comes with that.

In terms of becoming self-employed, a lot of it has been about simple things – even the question, “What do you do for your job?” can be difficult, trying to narrow it down…

Some of the challenges are also around being proud of myself and communicating what I’m good at, but in a really authentic way; especially in a cultural context in New Zealand, which you might also find in the UK, where people don’t really go around blowing their own trumpets. So, how can you really convey that stuff that you’re good at? How you can help people but still do it in a really genuine way so that you’re building relationships and hopefully adding value to what other people are after?

3) Where did you get the support you needed to make it happen?

Anita had come to a point where she knew that the path that she was on wasn’t right for her, and it was time to make a change.

When I first got a life coach, it was actually a suggestion from my mum! At the time, I had just moved from one job back to my old workplace and I started to doubt myself and my decisions, asking myself, “How did I end up in this situation?” I think I just needed someone to help me start building up that self-trust again, that confidence in my decision making and in the direction that I was heading.

That was when I started to make a few changes, introducing a light routine – when I get up in the morning, I do a bit of meditation, and at the end of the day, I’ll write a gratitude diary with three things that I’m grateful for, one thing where I’m proud of myself for that day, and one thing that I learned.

I’ve also worked with a business coach, which has been amazing – right from the practical things of “How do you write a proposal?” and “How much money do you charge?” through to “How do you identify your values?” and “What text do you put on your website?” That has really been invaluable.

One thing I think that’s interesting is that a lot of people are saying, “Oh, you’re very brave to make this move, to try out this path!” – but it doesn’t feel like that. “Brave” doesn’t seem like the right word. To me, I had a situation where I wasn’t living my best life or being my happiest self, and so I needed change that situation. It was almost a logical, rational decision in a way – but also a very emotional and personal one, because you don’t want to let people down or get a bad reputation.

I understand that I’m very privileged: the reality is that I don’t have to pay a mortgage, I don’t have children and some of those pressures that other people have; and I have a very supportive family and friends – so that makes it a very safe context for me. But I still think it can be about giving it a go and trying this out – and I think that’s where things are heading in the world anyway; it’s a good time to be trying these things.

4) What’s the best part of your lifestyle today?

There’s a lot of variety: I’ve cast the net wide and I’ve had a really big range of roles. I’ve been working halftime pretty much on government contracts and then spending the rest of my time building up the website and getting new work.

So far, my work has ranged from writing creative content for a restaurant to doing research for a woman I met on holiday in the Cook Islands last year, working on a land handover with aboriginal people; more recently, I’ve written some web content for Global Women about the gender pay gap. I’ve met some amazing people; one thing leads to another… and it’s really exciting! Biking around town to meet someone new for a bit of a chat about a potential work project, I’ve just got that feeling of, “Where’s this adventure going to take me?”

While I’m very lucky to be supported in a lot of ways, this is something that I’ve enabled for myself – and that’s a nice feeling. I might be writing an article and sending it away, or there was that moment of getting the website up and running, and then feeling, “Yeah, that’s great!”

There’s also so much learning going on.

5) What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is considering making a big career or lifestyle change?

I guess just really listen to that ‘thing’ you’re feeling. Life is too short, and there’s so much other stuff that you can do rather than keep going along that road. Even if a lot of people expect you to keep going, and it’s a well-trodden path, it’s not always the right thing for you, and you’re the one who has to live this life, every day.

I would also say, really open the door – get out there and ask other people who are doing what you might like to do, how they got there, and what lessons they learned. Listen to podcasts, read your book!

A lot of people want to have something very exact in terms of what they’re going to do next when they leave something, but as long as the practical side is there – you can still pay your rent and so on – then it really is worth the adventure of stepping out and taking that leap, and exploring what could work for you.

You can find out about Anita’s consulting on her website, connect with her on LinkedIn, or follower her on Facebook.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You might also be interested in these articles

“Everything you’ve ever
wanted is one step outside
your comfort zone.”

Book a free consultation

Get on the phone with Anna to discuss your unique goals and situation to determine the best programme for you, so you can start taking action towards creating the business and lifestyle you desire.

Get a free assessment of your business

Download this scorecard to review where you are on each of the 5 pillars of building a life outside of the 9 to 5, and get clear action steps to help you fill the gaps.

We will use and protect your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Looking to grow your expert business?

Download this FREE Business Assessment to identify the gaps that are preventing your growth so that you can take actionable steps towards building a more successful and sustainable business.

We will use and protect your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Download the brochure

Find out more about our flagship mentoring programme for experienced professionals who want to translate their skills and experience into a profitable business that brings them more freedom, flexibility, and fulfilment.

We will use and protect your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Privacy Policy

This privacy policy sets out how One Step Outside uses and protects any information that you give One Step Outside when you use this website (

One Step Outside is committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected. Should we ask you to provide certain information by which you can be identified when using this website, then you can be assured that it will only be used in accordance with this privacy statement.

One Step Outside may change this policy from time to time by updating this page. You should check this page from time to time to ensure that you are happy with any changes.

What information we collect and why

We only ever collect the information that we need in order to serve you.

Generally, this just means collecting your first name and email address that you enter, for example, when you request a resource, register for a webinar, or submit a message via a contact form.

If you are a paying customer, we also collect your billing information including your last name and your postal address.


When visitors leave comments on the site we collect the data shown in the comments form, and also the visitor’s IP address and browser user agent string to help spam detection.

An anonymised string created from your email address (also called a hash) may be provided to the Gravatar service to see if you are using it. The Gravatar service privacy policy is available here: After approval of your comment, your profile picture is visible to the public in the context of your comment.

Contact forms

We use Gravity Forms to allow you to contact us via the website. We will use the information you submit for the sole purpose of that specific form and will explicitly ask you to provide your consent to allow us to do so.

Embedded content from other websites

Articles on this site may include embedded content (e.g. videos, images, articles, etc.). Embedded content from other websites behaves in the exact same way as if the visitor has visited the other website.

These websites may collect data about you, use cookies, embed additional third-party tracking, and monitor your interaction with that embedded content, including tracking your interaction with the embedded content if you have an account and are logged in to that website.

Advertising and Analytics


We use Google Analytics to track and optimise performance on this site as well as embedding video content from YouTube, and this means that your web browser automatically sends certain information to Google. This includes the URL of the page that you’re visiting and your IP address. Google may also set cookies on your browser or read cookies that are already there. Apps that use Google advertising services also share information with Google, such as the name of the app and a unique identifier for advertising.

Google uses the information shared by sites and apps to deliver our services, maintain and improve them, develop new services, measure the effectiveness of advertising, protect against fraud and abuse and personalise content and ads that you see on Google and on our partners’ sites and apps. See their Privacy Policy to learn more about how they process data for each of these purposes, and their Advertising page for more about Google ads, how your information is used in the context of advertising and how long Google stores this information.


We use the conversion tracking and custom audiences via the Facebook pixel on our website. This allows user behaviour to be tracked after they have been redirected to our website by clicking on a Facebook ad and enables us to measure the effectiveness of our Facebook ads. The data collected in this way is anonymous to us, i.e. we do not see the personal data of individual users. However, this data is stored and processed by Facebook, who may link this information to your Facebook account and also use it for its own promotional purposes, in accordance with Facebook’s Data Usage Policy

You can allow Facebook and its partners to place ads on and off Facebook. A cookie may also be stored on your computer for these purposes. You can revoke your permission directly on Facebook here: For more guidance on opting out you can also consult

Who we share your data with

We use a number of third parties to provide us with services which are necessary to run our business or to assist us with running our business and who process your information for us on our behalf. These include a hosting and email provider (Siteground), mailing list provider (GetResponse), and a payment provider (Stripe).

Your information will be shared with these service providers only where necessary to enable us to run our business.

How long we maintain your data

If you leave a comment, the comment and its metadata are retained indefinitely. This is so we can recognise and approve any follow-up comments automatically instead of holding them in a moderation queue.

For users that register on our website, we also store the personal information they provide in their user profile. All users can see, edit, or delete their personal information at any time (except they cannot change their username). Website administrators can also see and edit that information.

The main reason for collecting this information is to be able to send you resources, updates and, sometimes, information and products and services, as well as for internal record keeping.

The rights you have over your data

If you have an account on this site, or have left comments, you can request to receive an exported file of the personal data we hold about you, including any data you have provided to us. You can also request that we erase any personal data we hold about you. This does not include any data we are obliged to keep for administrative, legal, or security purposes.

How we protect your data

We are committed to ensuring that your information is secure.

Where we have given you (or where you have chosen) a password that lets you access certain parts of our site, you are responsible for keeping this password confidential and we ask you not to share a password with anyone.

Unfortunately, the transmission of information via the internet is not completely secure. Although we will do our best to protect your personal data, we cannot guarantee the security of your data transmitted to our site; any transmission is at your own risk. Once we have received your information, we will use strict procedures and security features to try to prevent unauthorised access.

Links to other websites

Our website contains links to other websites. This privacy policy only applies to this website so once you have used these links to leave our site, you should note that we do not have any control over that other website. You should exercise caution and look at the privacy statement applicable to the website in question.

Changes to our privacy policy

We keep our privacy policy under regular review. Initially created on 18th November 2016, it was last updated on 23rd May 2018 to be compliant with GDPR.

Contact information

If you have any questions or concerns related to your privacy, you can get in touch here >>