This week’s guest blog is from Amber Peart


There are usually multiple stressors involved when planning a career change; your financial, social, mental, and emotional wellbeing are typically points of consideration. If you’re truly unhappy with your presumable 40+ hour-per-week grind, it might be time to consider a career change. I can appreciate that this is easier said than done and therefore deserves some clarification. In Canada, the majority of the workforce rate their job satisfaction as “satisfied” to “very satisfied”; that’s good news for the majority, but probably leaves the rest wanting for better. Eight years ago I would have rated my job satisfaction as low, perhaps nonexistent. Now that I reflect on my second career as a Registered Massage Therapist with five years of practice under her belt, I can say the opposite and have a few thoughts on overcoming the upheaval and stress involved in changing careers.

Primary fears in changing careers are usually based around transferrable skills, tuition/certification costs, loss of seniority or identity in the current workplace, and inadequate income relative to desired lifestyle. These are all valid concerns and you wouldn’t be wrong for thinking about the real barriers to change. In fact, if you didn’t take these things into consideration, it might be a red flag that you’ll run into similar problems within your new career. Homework is imperative in navigating the vulnerability of major life changes, and as someone who drastically changed their career trajectory, I strongly believe that education, experience, and training is rarely wasted. It’s an investment in self.

Leaving a career has taught me some very humbling lessons; it’s given me an opportunity to let go of my ego, find humility, and a chance to take my time to audit my strengths and weaknesses to allow for growth and authenticity. The moment I considered Massage Therapy it was almost like the lightbulb above my head was tangible, but I didn’t get there by accident. Change takes a support group and a plan to navigate these barriers.

Don’t Box Your Skillset

Generally speaking, experience in any job can teach or even highlight existing transferable skills. Things like adaptability, communication, and time management are skills that transfer easily to a new career. From my own experience, I’ve managed to find similarities between two seemingly contrasting careers: winemaking and massage therapy. Even technical and job-specific tasks can be summarized as broader skillsets applicable to different careers. It’s not about the specific task, it’s about the core skills involved in achieving the specific task.

An example from my experience: both winemaking and massage therapy share the common and imperative task of observation and application. A basic overview of both competencies reveals the required ability to evaluate each case with a systematic approach, both with subjective and objective information. Subjective wine analysis reviews sensory information, while there is also a mandatory objective lab analysis (basics like acids, pH, sugars, and volatile acidity). In massage therapy, we have various subjective markers to consider, followed by objective measurements (whether through observation, assessments, imaging, or formal diagnoses from physicians). In both industries, once information is collected, decisions can then be made about the path to take forward.

The culmination of these experiences in both careers have taught me to think critically, evaluate, consider, ask questions, and apply what I need in any given situation. These skills are therefore readily transferrable to any workplace. Start with a list and consider what skillsets you require in your current profession, and how might they be adapted to fit in another?

Saying Goodbye Means Saying Hello

There can be so much inertia behind the totality of a career that makes leaving it seem impossible. The safe, familiar (although miserable) space feels like the easier option even if your goals and drive have atrophied. “I’m used to being at a certain level of seniority- I can’t start over”.  I will attest that being the dumbest one in the room on any given topic is to your advantage. You can’t mess up because you’re learning, and you leave the room better than you were when you started. Of course, attached to this sense of seniority or any ranking in the workplace is also your identity. The French language has a term used in winemaking to express “sense of place”, known as “Terroir”. It’s a culmination of climate, soil, terrain and sometimes tradition. Our careers subject us not only to tasks we need to achieve, but also a specific culture and identity. Our own culmination of variables establishes our own sense of place and when we leave behind a title, or prospect for a title we experience a loss. We grieve the loss of what once was a goal, our habits, and our daily interactions that make up such a huge part of our lives. Alternatively, have you ever been asked “So, what do you do?” and grimaced on the inside while smiling on the outside?  I dreaded this question because it would be followed up with praise and interest, while I felt detached, uninterested, and bitter. I knew this was the terminus of my time in the wine industry and I knew I needed a curated exit strategy.


Out of calculated risk and strategic loss comes the predictable opportunity. Sometimes the promise of a new opportunity can feel overwhelming, even though it’s a generally positive thing. For example, a lot of people start integrating what they do as careers and jobs into their personal identities, and so when those careers are lost, it feels as though you lose a part of yourself. Shifting of personal identifiers can also sometimes be hard on friends and family, and often those who know you best (generally out of a place of concern) will offer unsolicited advice that can feel burdensome and unwelcome.

Finding your own cheerleaders and support groups is really helpful. Start by telling them that you are unhappy, ask for a listening ear, and let them know that you are looking for a change, no matter how big or small. In my experience, it was also incredibly helpful to talk to those who were already doing what I wanted to do. Anyone who has any level of perceived success understands how hard it is to make big moves and are happy to discuss details about their journey and their day to day. Finally, professionals who specialize in career development, financial planners, and academic advisors (if further education is required) can address the realities of job change to mitigate loss and stress. Start by building your team to help with the independent decisions and tasks ahead.

Lightbulb Moment

Why massage therapy? All I wanted to be able to say was “I love my job”, and I certainly learned what I didn’t want from working within the wine industry. What appealed to me most about massage therapy is the requirement of such aptitudes as having entrepreneurial and business sense, an appreciation for autonomy, enjoyment in helping others, and a high regard for continuous learning. Above all else, in my own personal hierarchy of importance, I value all areas of health. Working in the wine industry, I felt like I was a square peg in a round hole as it concerns health and wellness; I was simply out of place. The food and beverage industry can be very oppositional to health and wellness, and I recognized over time that I wasn’t in line with my values in that career.

To conclude, spend some time evaluating your skillsets, particularly the ones that you enjoy and then consider the necessities like compensation, job security, and job opportunity in your area. Job Bank Canada rates the massage therapy profession in Ontario and several other provinces as “good” to “very good” with opportunities for growth, and your local college with an accredited program for massage therapy will carry more statistics on compensation and job opportunities in your area.

When I was moving through my own career transition into massage therapy, I spoke to a RMT who told me “your future self will thank you”. This stuck with me through the long days of working, studying, and the stress of starting new jobs. The time will pass no matter how you choose to spend it, and now I can confidently say with enthusiasm that yes, five years into practice my current self is in fact, thankful. 


Canada, E. and S. D. (2023, March 21). Massage therapist (MT) in Ontario: Job prospects – job bank. Massage Therapist (MT) in Ontario | Job prospects – Job Bank. Retrieved May 4, 2023, from

Government of Canada, Statistics Canada. (2023, March 30). Job satisfaction, by gender and Province. Job satisfaction, by gender and province. Retrieved May 4, 2023, from


About the Author

Amber practices Registered Massage Therapy and Contemporary Medical Acupuncture south of the GTA, within the two small communities of Ancaster and Haldimand County, Ontario. She spends her time in practice with a focus on orthopaedic conditions and maintains an analytical approach to movement dysfunctions to optimize patient recovery. Outside of the clinic, Amber is an involved member with the Registered Massage Therapists Association of Ontario, she enjoys staying active in the gym, and can often be found tending to her gardens, cats, and houseplants.