13 Questions with Career Coach Sarah Vermunt
Say Goodbye And Welcome Hello
You’ve heard the old saying, “Find work you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”? Toronto-based Career Coach Sarah Vermunt wants you to believe the hype. In fact, she’s built a career out of helping people who have lost their mojo say goodbye to the passionless relationship they have with their work and hello to feel-good work they love.
And she’s not only a hype woman, she’s living proof that changing course (scary as it may be) can also be rewarding, inspiring, and empowering.
“When you’re on the right career path, it feels like a vocation, a calling. You feel like you’re doing exactly what you’re meant to do and what comes naturally to you. Your work leaves you feeling happy and satisfied and full,” she says.
Sarah knows this first hand. While working on her dissertation, she had a breakdown in the middle of a crowded Starbucks.
“I hated it. I had hated it for a long time, but on that day something in me just broke. I couldn’t do it anymore. Not for another second,” says Sarah.
The next day she walked into her Ph.D. supervisor’s office and told him she was quitting. Was she afraid of what people would think? Yes. Was she afraid to fail? Yes. Was she afraid she’d lost everything she had worked for and it would kill her? Yes.
But she listened to that little voice inside of her and did it anyway. That was more than six years ago. Since then, she’s made it her mission as a career coach to help people quit jobs they hate so they can live their best life.
“Quitting was a gift I finally found the guts to give myself.”
Getting To Know Career Coach Sarah Vermunt
- What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
I got some really good advice from my dad as a teenager: Figure out what you like and then find a way to make money doing it. I think it’s rare for a parent to give a kid that much freedom and encouragement. So I do think having parents who were really hands-off was a real gift as a kid.
2. What’s your dream brunch date? Where and with whom?
I’d have to go to Mildred’s Temple Kitchen for blueberry pancakes with a side of rosemary bacon. Honestly, I would most like to go with my regular girlfriends that I hang out with for a catch-up. Oprah wouldn’t suck either – she can join us if she’d like!
3. What’s on your must-read list?
I started a book for the third time, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, and it’s about simplifying your life so you can focus on the very few essential things that matter to you. Getting intentional about how to spend your time and energy, which is good for a gal like me who wants to do all the things. Another one is The Desire Map by Danielle Laporte. What I love about this book is that she flips goal setting on its head and comes at it from a different place – very empowering. As well, anything by Samantha Irby – she’s one of the most real writers I’ve ever read. I’d buy anything she writes, forever. If you’ve had a bad day and need a laugh, you need to pick up something from her.
4. What does a typical day in your life look like?
I have two different kinds of typical days. On my days when I’m working with clients, I’m at my beautiful office sitting in comfy chairs working with people one on one, helping them figure out what they want to do with their life. There are usually tissues involved because it’s an emotional process for them. Those are my favourite days – they go by very fast for me. I see five clients in a day and it goes by quickly. I’m really tired by the end of [those sessions] because holding a place for them takes a lot of energy. Another one is my “workin’ at home in sweatpants” days – I have two of those every week. Those are the days where I’m writing books or doing media days to promote the books or doing administrative stuff or building a new program I want to launch. Those are my “head down and focus” days, just me and my cat grinding it out at home. And then I have my weekend days where I go to see baby goats and I get brunch in at least once a weekend. I make sure they’re very chill…
5. What would people be surprised to know about you?
A lot of people would be surprised to learn I grew up on a farm and was the oldest of five kids (I have four brothers). I’ve lived in Toronto longer, but I’m a farm girl at heart.
6. What’s your go-to meal or recipe?
Usually soups, because I’m the world’s most impatient cook. So if I can just throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and leave, then that’s the kind of stuff I like to make.
7. What helps you get in your flow/zone?
My morning meditation. I do 10-minute meditations with my Calm App and it keeps me chill at the start of the day. Another thing is boundaries; I’m kind of a boundary queen. I don’t make myself available to everyone all the time because it’s exhausting. For example, Instagram stories…I don’t answer them. I’m available to answer work questions through email, but I want to have fun on social media. I’m good at keeping reasonable work hours. And as women we’re socialized differently, so we have to work a little harder at unlearning that.
8. When do you feel most alive?
I feel most alive when I’m in nature. When I don’t have a screen in front of me; where it’s quiet. There’s something about moving quietly among nature that feels incredibly grounding for me, and I feel like I’m my most natural and essential self when I’m in nature.
9. How close is your offline life to your online life?
So close. I’m quite intentional about sharing a whole lot of real life stuff online because I think the balance is refreshing, but also it feels better. If you’re only showing one side of life it would feel like you’re faking it. To be honest, I’ve had a sh*tty month and people know it. Struggling with a breakup. I think a lot of us feel like we’re struggling alone with things and I think it’s sharing the stuff you’re struggling with that can bring people closer to you.
10. In real life, face-to-face interactions are on the decline as the world becomes more and more virtual every day. What are some ways you connect with your tribe? What do you do to ensure you’re having authentic face-to-face interactions regularly?
This might be a weird response, but I only interact with people when I want to. I think sometimes people feel they have to be connecting all of the time, but I’m naturally an introvert, so I manage my energy very carefully. Especially since I’m with people all day, every day. So when I choose to connect with people it’s usually one on one, but also sometimes at events. If there’s a way that I can build into the interaction, that’s my jam; whether it’s one on one or people in a room being honest with each other. I don’t like the business card, networking interactions. I’m just not interested in shallow or forced connections.
11. Do you prefer paperback or e-reader?
Paperback! I’m so old school. I actually hate hardcover books; I wait for the soft cover books. I usually read lying down so I prefer the soft cover. It’s just easier.
12. What are your biggest self-care tips?
Me from five years ago would laugh her ass off at this answer, but movement is so important for me. I find it’s really important for my mental health. I love doing things like yoga, I just started Pilates two weeks ago, spin class, I play squash, I want to get stronger so I can do CrossFit later this summer. I know it’s all good for my body, but for me, it’s even better for my mind. I find when I feel physically strong, I feel strong mentally and emotionally too.
13. What’s your biggest success or achievement to date?
Probably quitting my Ph.D. when I was afraid of what people would think. I was 93 pages and four years in, and it was making me miserable. And so, choosing a new career path, and the bravery that took is still my #1.
Find out more about Sarah’s dynamic workshops – and take a FREE Career Crash Course – by visiting her website: careergasm.com. Her books – Careergasm: Find Your Way to Feel-Good Work is available in our Brookstore as one of our January Books of the Month. Connect with Sarah on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook (the nine-year-old Sarah is already making friendship bracelets!).
Looking for even more inspiration? We have a great selection of non-fiction books available in our Brookstore! Check them out here.
Andrea Querido is a 40-ish book-loving, introverted word nerd who’s passionate about connection, self-care, personal growth, creating community and, of course, books!
Favourite book: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Favourite brunch spot: Anywhere I don’t have to cook.