To the naked eye, my career change from corporate HR director to professional coach may appear to have happened overnight.  And it may seem like a natural step from one field to the other.  

But to me, the start of my career change to become a coach begins with…


It starts with a daydream.

It was Christmastime in 2018. Laying in the guest room bed at my parents’ house in Connecticut, I turned to my husband, Eric, and said, 

“I think I want to be an alpaca farmer.”

“What?”, was his simple and totally understandable reply.  

I had been thinking about an alternate career for a while.  My meandering thoughts took me to my interests outside of work, and to the world of knitting.  Did I want to own a yarn shop?  Beyond the joy of selecting beautiful yarns, I thought the day-to-day might feel a tad dull, and I didn’t like the idea of being tied down to a shop every weekend. 

I moved on to fiber.  What if I got involved in the creation of yarn?  That is how I decided that my alternative career path would be alpaca farming.  I would raise alpacas and use their fiber to make my own yarn.

I repeated, “I think I want to be an alpaca farmer.”

After a few more questions about how all this came about, there was a long pause, and then Eric said, 

“We’ll call our first two alpacas Butter and Noodles.”  

The daydream becomes a little more real.

I entertained with earnestness the idea of becoming an alpaca farmer for some months.  

I picked up a book on the subject.  

The Frugal Alpaca Farmer, by Ingrid Wood, is a treasure trove of alpaca farming wisdom.

We even visited a local alpaca farm to gather intel.  I learned a lot about alpacas during this period.  

For example, did you know alpacas are very curious by nature?

And that they strongly prefer to be in the company of other alpacas?  

And that they do this adorable prancy-hoppy move called “pronking”?

The full story gets edited down.

Normally, when I am asked how I decided to make my career change from corporate HR to coaching, people get an edited version of the story.  Something like this: 

“Well, I wanted to make a career change that would accommodate my personal desire for flexibility and direct ownership of my time,” my well-rehearsed tale begins.  

“And I thought of coaching because I thought the skills required would be similar to my career in HR.  I signed up for a coach training program, and hired my own coach.” Not unlike an arranged marriage, I fell in love with coaching after all the practicalities were sorted out. 

Neat.  Clean.  Logically satisfying.  

But you now know the whole truth—that before I moved on to coaching, I wanted to be an alpaca farmer. 

Alas, too many episodes of The Incredible Dr. Pol on Nat Gio Wild ultimately put a damper on this idea.  The realities of livestock management were sobering; the thought of a suffering or dying alpaca in my midst, traumatizing.  

Somewhere around the same time, coaching began floating in my mind as perhaps a more realistic possibility.  I began taking steps to explore this as my alpaca-farming dreams began to fade away.  And that idea really took.

If I hadn’t taken those steps to explore alpaca farming, would I have found my way to coaching?  

Maybe.  Maybe not.

But I do believe that the outward expression of a dream is a powerful thing.  You lay down that first breadcrumb for yourself, and the next one appears, and then the next one.  But it all begins when you allow a dream to take on life by breathing the words.  If I had not said those words out loud, who knows where I’d be?

I love who I am today. And I love what got me here, including my daydreams about having my own alpaca farm.  

And who knows?  Maybe Butter and Noodles are part of my future.  Life is full of possibilities.  

Butter and Noodles

Wendy Hultmark, CPC, ACC, is a coach who helps women in leadership own their stories and write the next chapter. Learn more at