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2010 sees us down in London again but this time at Earls Court for the Vitality Show which has taken over One Life Live.  Jo is again a speaker at the One Life Live Theatre. Our Vitality Show Press Release is here.


2009 Here we are at the One Life Live Show at Olympia again and this time Jo is speaking on the main stage. 

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Have a look at the story about us filming with Carol Thatcher for the One Show on BBC

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2008 One Life Live Press Release.  Read all about Stepping Off from the 2008 One Life Live show at Olympia.

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Family Circle - New downshifting article featuring Stepping Off in October 2006 issue.

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Do you like our web site?  The Business Gazette did. 

Have a look at the article written about the Stepping Off web site

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Catch the latest article on us to hit the headlines -

"Kiss the Rat Race Goodbye"

Published in the Telegraph on Saturday 19 November 2005

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INSPIRING LIFE MAGAZINE

ESCAPE ARTIST

Four years ago Jo Hampson and Georgina Perkins were fast-track senior Police Officers headed for the top of their profession. Then they gave it all up and downshifted to the country. Inspiring Life finds out how life has changed for them.

From their Cumbria retreat, at the top of Crosby Ravensworth Fell, Jo Hampson and Georgina Perkins ponder upon life as they gaze out to wonderful views overlooking the Lakeland Fells and the Pennines. In 2001, they gave up successful careers in the Police to run their own small business smoking food and making chocolates with The Old Smokehouse and Truffles. Following the success of this venture, they have drawn upon their skills and experience to launch ‘Stepping Off’ to provide coaching, training and consultancy services for people wanting to change their lives for the better.

Escape to the Country

 

Jo started her working life as a primary school teacher in a run-down inner city area. Walking in the vicinity with the local bobby, they had a fridge thrown at them from a balcony high up in a tower block; Jo was so taken aback by what was happening in society to allow such a thing to occur that she applied to join the Metropolitan Police the next day. She soared rapidly to the rank of Chief Superintendent, having worked within National Police Training, the New South Wales Police in Australia and finally as Area Commander in Thames Valley where she was in charge of 500 staff, and an annual budget of £1.2million.

Georgina was an Inspector with only seven years service, then spent another seven years in that rank operationally, then working directly to the Chief Constable as his Staff Officer in Thames Valley, and finally as Detective Inspector on the Major Crime Unit, investigating murders and armed robberies.

With a further 15 years service ahead of them and promotions anticipated, they decided to leave policing. They both enjoyed their work, but felt that there was more to life. They had frequently tried to commit themselves to working fewer hours, but never succeeded. A planned relaxing holiday was interrupted by work calls, pager messages, and reading papers for future meetings. It had taken to midnight for Jo to clear her desk the night before the holiday, and on her return there was two weeks worth of work in her ‘in tray’. Neither wanted to continue in an environment in which working ridiculously long hours was something to brag about.

They heard on the grapevine that a small artisan food producing business was for sale near Penrith - - near where Jo’s family had lived for many years - and so quite by chance, in 2001 the two senior police officers found themselves smoking salmon, chicken and cheese! Within three years they had increased the turnover 300%, built the business up into one of the best known smokehouses, won 16 National Food Awards, gained clients like Fortnum and Mason and Harvey Nichols, and were smoking privately for members of the Royal family. As in all business, the more successful you are the more people want to buy you out and in 2004 they were made an offer they couldn’t refuse! It was then the ideal opportunity to start ‘Stepping Off’, a life change consultancy geared to helping other people downshift or embark upon a life change.

Learning How to Step Off the Treadmill

 

“The mission of Stepping Off is to help those wanting to escape the rat race to make sure that they do not leap from the frying pan into the fire. There are complex motivators that steer people towards any major life change, and we have developed some simple tools to establish what the real priorities in this process are.

“We offer relaxing day and weekend courses in a beautiful converted Westmorland barn where people can come and escape the pressures of everyday living and sort out their future. We specialise in helping people work out what they really want out of life, where they want to be and how to get there. We help with every aspect of changing your life, from simple time management to complete downshifting.

“Clients of Stepping Off can be confident that when they make the move that is right for them, they know why they are doing it, they know what they want to change and what they want to stay the same, and they have a clear path to achieving their downshifting dream.

“One of our company sayings is — ‘ you hold on to your dream, while we help you live through the reality.’

And Jo and Georgina certainly know about the dream and the reality. Escaping the rat-race doesn’t come easy when you have a rewarding, successful career, but they were able to see the bigger picture.

“We both enjoyed the Police Service; it was stimulating, rewarding and it paid well. We worked hard and were on call 24 hours a day. By definition of the service we were always responding to ‘incidents’ that had occurred and of course when there is an emergency you just go in and deal with it. We felt that we were not really in control of our lives, but controlled by the job we were doing. We were living to work, not working to live.

“However much you enjoy a job and however well you get paid to do it, being

a police officer (nurse, stockbroker secretary etc) is just not enough. Not when there is a life out there to be lived. We had little time for friends and family and doing things that were equally as important to us as our careers.

Escaping the rat race was quite easy. Jo said: “I had just undergone a 4-day assessment for promotion. I came home and went out for dinner with Georgina to tell her all about it. During the conversation she simply said, “Do you want to buy the Smokehouse?” I looked at her and without any real thought about it just said “Yes”. That was it. We spent the next two months thinking and planning it and then left. We left our careers behind, left the pensions behind(!) and started a new life. We decided that we wanted to go and do something different so we just up and did it!”

Jo and Georgina found that there wasn’t much specific advice available to help them achieve their ambitions:

“Most people seemed to think we were mad, although a huge number were really envious of what we were doing. We spoke to our financial advisor who was much more concerned about our huge drop in salary than we were! We then spoke to a lawyer and an accountant about running a business. That was it.

This whole issue of advice is the entire raison d’etre for Stepping Off. We started the business because so many people were contacting us about what we did, what worked, what didn’t work, what we would do differently if we did it again. If we had gone on a course like Stepping Off, we’re sure we would have done some fundamental things differently.

Embarking on this sort of life change is momentous, yet people do it without really thinking it through. For every happy story of people successfully downshifting there is a sorrier tale of those who get it wrong. We were lucky.

Doesn’t it make sense to give yourself the best chance and at least learn a few useful hints from those who have successfully achieved what you are trying to do?”

Now is the Best Time!

 

When taking a huge step in a new direction, doubts can creep in. Jo reflects on this: “I don’t think we ever really considered that we might have failed in what we were trying to achieve. I don’t think we thought much beyond getting the business going and then trying to expand it a bit. It would be fair to say neither of us thought we would have built the business to be quite so successful so quickly.

What I suppose was always at the back of my mind was that if it hadn’t all turned out OK at least we could have said that we had tried. That is what it’s all about. My philosophy is that when I am 85 and sitting in my rocking chair on the porch thinking back on my life

- I don’t mind if there are lots of ‘what ifs’ because there will always be imponderables - but what I don’t want is any ‘if onlys’, because those are regrets. There is no room in life for regrets. I would always have regretted not taking the plunge, just so I know what it felt like. Life is certainly a richer place for having downshifted.”

Georgina adds: “Now is the best time there will ever be to enjoy today.”

Life has changed enormously since the decision to move to Cumbria and this has changed everything. “We look at life completely differently now and are no longer motivated by the things that used to motivate us. We lead a much simpler life and take pleasure in doing things that we never had time for before - walking in an evening, home cooking, entertaining friends, going to the theatre and cinema, being involved in the community. We fit so much more into our lives now that we are working for ourselves, even though we still work hard. When we were at the Smokehouse we worked 7 days a week in the summer but we were in control.

Your attitude to life has to change if

you are to succeed. Downshifting is about a new life, a simpler life. It is not about being the same person in a different place. Moving house or to a different job won’t be different unless you learn to look at life differently. You can’t downshift, reduce your income and simplify your life and still be motivated by having the latest fast car or the newest bit of technology in your sitting room. This is one of the main reasons why people fail in their move to downshift. They change on the outside but not on the inside.”

A Personal Growth Experience!

 

“In terms of personal growth and well­being, we have time to laugh a lot more! Although we can be evangelical about downshifting we also know how hard it can be particularly once the novelty has worn off. Personal growth is a good way to describe it. It has been enormously beneficial in those terms. I suppose when you step off the treadmill you begin to have time to think about things for the first time. There is time for reflection and to think about who you are.

We have learnt a lot about ourselves and the way we handle situations and circumstances. Having lived a fairly hectic life in the South East we now have something completely different to compare it to. When you are in that situation you can examine your behaviour in a comparative way.

In terms of well being, we now live life at a much slower pace with less stress, less panic, less time in meetings or in the car and we control our own lives. We are living life to the full whereas before we were just working and motivated by material things - which we had - but they didn’t necessarily make life any better or happier.

Our time management is now much better. We still work hard but we try to work smarter. This is such a big issue that we offer courses just on this subject to help people who may not want to completely downshift but want to start enjoying their life and their work more.”

Finally, have Jo and Georgina any words of advice for anyone else wanting to escape?

“Go for it! Be brave. Look on it as a wonderful opportunity to have a chance of leading a completely different style of life. Life is too short not to have a go - what ever you do, and however it turns out, it will be an enriching experience.

But - Minimise the risks -

• Read the books but more importantly talk to people who have done it. Find out the pros and cons from as many people as you can.

• Work out BEFORE you do it what your reasons are for doing it.

• Sort out BEFORE you do it what you want to get out of it.

• Be prepared to change who you are inwardly as well as who you are outwardly i.e. your perspective on life.

• Be brave!

• Speak to us at Stepping Off we will be able to help you with all of the above, answer your questions and help you make the right decisions!”

For further details, visit the Stepping Off website at www.steppingoff.co.uk

More tips from Jo and Georgina for creating the life YOU want!

 

• You need to love life and care about what you achieve in your lifetime.

• You need to be a risk taker but one that does everything to minimise the risks.

• You need to be flexible and adaptable.

• Maybe you also need to be a little bit off the wall!

• You have to be able to accept that when a decision is balanced finely, 51% always wins, and however hard it is to give up the 49%, you have to go for it.



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Metropolitan Life

DOWNSHIFTING SECRETS - FROM PAIR WHOSE PLANS WENT UP IN SMOKE

Two women who swapped their top-level careers in the London police to run a food smoking business in the Lake District have just made another dramatic career change. They are now providing courses for others who want to trade a routine of stress and pressure for a more balanced lifestyle.

Jo Hampson and Georgina Perkins were both working as senior police officers when, four years ago, they decided to step aside from their fast-track jobs. They quit the city, travelled to Cumbria, and took over a small but long-established smokehouse just outside Penrith. Visit The Old Smokehouse website.

Three years later, they had trebled the turnover, won major new retail customers throughout the UK, and scooped many fine food awards for their specialities such as smoked sausages, salmon and duck.

But according to Jo, both saw the most important measure of their success as having re-gained control over their lives. For the first time, she says, there was the exhilarating sense of freedom which comes from knowing that you were shaping your own destiny - and not being led by the demands of others.

Helping those who also want to escape a pressured lifestyle, but who don’t want to forego personal challenge and achievement, is the aim of Jo and Georgina’s new venture called Stepping Off.

Based in an historic Lakeland house with luxury accommodation, they are offering three-day courses to show how an existing skill or interest could form the basis of a lifestyle change.

For many people, says Jo, becoming their own boss is the perfect way to side-step a life in which the often conflicting demands of work and home can be reconciled. At the same time it provides creative satisfaction, the opportunity to reach personal targets, and maintains an income.

The first step to successful stepping off, believes Jo, is examining a person’s motives for wanting a lifestyle change, and understanding any mis-matches between her/his aspirations and present career.

With the help of a consultant psychologist, the course also analyses key strengths and identifies what type of work might best suit an individual’s character. Based partly on the couple’s own experiences, participants are also taught how to deal with the practical realities of working for themselves.

“The course is designed to be inspirational by proving to people that they do have an alternative to their present way of life. It’s about giving them the self-confidence to create change, and to discover a new - and perhaps surprising - role from which they can profit in every sense,” said Jo.

 

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Janes Police review
Police Review

Jo Hampson and Georgina Perkins, formerly Thames Valley Police Officers, now run a food-smoking business in the Lake District.

Q:  You quit the force, travelled to Cumbria and took over a small smokehouse just outside Penrith.  What made you do this?

I don't really know.  We both loved the job, earned a lot of money and found it all quite stimulating.  Jo says: 'From my perspective I just was not living.  I was a police officer seven days a week and did not feel in control of my life.  I just felt there was more to be had.'

Q:  How is the business doing?

In three years we have trebled the turnover, won major new retail customers throughout the UK and scooped many fine food awards for our specialities.  In the last two years, every new customer has been by word of mouth, and I suppose a real customer-service style approach has worked.

Q:  How have your lives changed since taking this plunge?

We both saw the most important measure of our success as having regained control of our lives.  For the first time, there was an exhilarating sense of freedom which comes from knowing that you were shaping your own destiny, and not being led by the demands of others.  However exciting and enjoyable the police service was, you were completely controlled by incidents that occurred.

Q:  One big change clearly was not enough for you both.  Tell us more about the course you run called Stepping Off.

For many people, becoming their own boss is the perfect way to side-step into a life in which the often conflicting demands of work and home can be reconciled.  At the same time it provides creative satisfaction, the opportunity to reach personal targets and it maintains an income.  The three-day course, which shows how an existing skill or interest could form the basis of a lifestyle change, is designed to be inspirational by proving to people that they do have an alternative to their present way of life.

  • Jo Hampson and Georgina Perkins were talking to Eve Pertile

 

 

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