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Best-selling author, life coach and Buckhannon native Katrina McGhee. (Submitted photo)

Full stop: Upshur native details her journey from taking a career break to becoming a best-selling author

BUCKHANNON – In the life of Buckhannon native Katrina McGhee, a compelling story has unfolded—one that propelled her into the role of a first-time author of a book in the ever-popular and well-known “For Dummies” series titled, “Taking a Career Break for Dummies.”

The book, offering insights into navigating career breaks and transitions and achieving work-life balance, has even become an Amazon bestseller.

The aim of “Taking A Career Break For Dummies” is to show how a career break – a sometimes-controversial topic – could be life-changing. In the book, McGhee argues that career breaks give people a chance to pause to identify opportunities and dreams, focus on the things they’ve been missing, and even develop new skills, according to its description.

McGhee’s journey began with contemplation about leaving her job for personal growth and exploration, she revealed in a recent interview.

“I feel like you have to live your life when you have the chance to live your life,” McGhee said. “It was important for me to put this book out into the world because I feel like we’re waiting until somebody tells us that it’s time – that it’s okay to take a break.”

McGhee doesn’t want people to feel like they must wait until the world or cultural norms tell them it’s time to have a family, to travel or to explore their interests.   

Katrina McGhee (Submitted photo)

During a 20-month-long period, McGhee embarked on a transformative exploration, including a three-month road trip across the United States and a life-changing yoga teacher training in Bali. McGhee’s narrative embodies the pursuit of self-discovery and the courage to take a break from conventional career paths.

McGhee’s meticulous planning and financial discipline enabled her to save $40,000 in just 18 months.

“I worked in Excel for my job as an actuary and became an Excel wizard,” she said. “But I knew pretty quickly that wasn’t all that I wanted to do. I thought to myself, ‘This is not lighting me up; I’m not using all of the strengths I have, and it’s not allowing me to grow in the way I want to grow.’”

After connecting with a life coach and establishing an “Exploration Fund,” she managed to pursue her dreams without financial strain—a testament to her ability to balance fiscal responsibility with a sense of adventure.

“So, when I had the money, I left my job; I gave them like eight months’ notice, and they were really supportive of it,” McGhee said. “That’s the sort of like the origin point of this book, right? I decided I wanted to take a break and then took all steps necessary to make that happen, and I am lucky enough to have been able to write it down in a format that other people can follow.”

McGhee’s journey took an unexpected turn when she found herself approached by an acquisitions editor to write a book for the renowned “For Dummies” series despite lacking a formal book proposal. Overcoming doubts and perfectionism, McGhee navigated the intricate process of crafting a financial self-help book in the distinctive “For Dummies” format.

McGhee did not overlook the challenges of book-writing. She emphasized that she had to consider “the importance of making the content conversational, interesting, simple, and approachable.” Her insights into the writing process, including collaborative editing with multiple rounds of edits, offered a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a best-selling book.

However, McGhee’s story extends beyond career breaks and book writing—it’s a testament to resilience, self-care and the pursuit of a personal mission. “Sometimes work becomes part of your identity,” said McGhee. “And that’s okay, but it is important to figure out who you are, separate from the work that you do.”

Becoming a life coach, she aims to help others achieve their goals and dreams, emphasizing the broader message of her book. “After I got home, I took an incredible job, paid off all my debt in two years, and then decided to get certified and become a life coach,” said McGhee. “I started coaching people, and I coach people in lots of things, but my main focus quickly became career breaks and career transitions.”

“I’ve been life coaching for seven years now and have coached 73 career breaks,” said McGhee. “I’ve seen and heard a lot, but here is a universal truth – no matter who you are, no matter what your circumstances are, there is something in this book that will help you figure out how you can make your version of the perfect break happen.”

Be sure to visit www.kmcgheecoaching.com to learn more about Katrina and how she got to where she is now.

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