Taking the plunge to re-invent yourself

Faced with the reality of being on her own, Chartered client, Gabi Steenkamp, had no choice but to start again and re-invent herself.

While re-inventing myself may have seemed like a daunting prospect, I knew that I had some personal work to do, quietly and courageously, to have a clear vision of what I really wanted for my life.

I thought long and hard about what makes me content, productive and nice-to-be-with, and also about what makes me grumpy and critical. Once I had sorted out that I needed to be in nature and beauty, needed lots of down time, had to stay fit and healthy, and had to find a way to earn enough money to keep me afloat every month, it was easy to choose where to move to.

I have always wanted to live in Cape Town, but moving there proved to be very expensive. In addition, with all the experts in their fields flocking to Cape Town for the lifestyle it afforded, most medical and para medical professions are over traded and hard to get into.

gabi-steenkamp-retire-successfullyI also believed that my advanced age was against me, and felt I needed to stay in a profession that did not require a young woman to get the job done. So, I played on my 35 years of experience as a clinical dietitian and the fact that, today, you can set up a business that does not require expensive offices or even direct contact with the public on a daily basis. Having done a food science post graduate Honours degree many years ago, I have always had a fascination for the food industry. It was therefore a logical step to get myself trained up in the food labelling regulations of this country and set up a consultancy to help food manufacturers get their food labels compliant with the law.

With my in-depth nutrition knowledge, I have a huge advantage over my legally trained colleagues who have no idea how food is made or what nutrition it offers, let alone if the information on a food label is nutritionally correct. I am now in a position of strength as I can check food label compliance from the legal and scientific perspective.

I updated my website and did alterations to include a home office in my new home in Cape Town, and started my gabi-steenkamp-retire-successfully1food labelling consultancy.

Eighteen months later, work is steadily trickling in and I have been able to mould my work around the lifestyle I know I need to stay balanced. I live in the most beautiful part of Cape Town where I can walk for an hour every morning at sunrise. I hike in the mountains in Cape Town once a week, and I was lucky enough to move into a complex where I have made many friends and have lots of support.

I cannot say that the journey has been an easy one, but having a clear vision and staying focused on this vision helped me to get through the tough times when my IT would go down, or the roof would leak, or work was just not coming in. Looking back, it has been a very worthwhile journey, and I look forward to each and every day with all the challenges and joy it brings me.

Gabi Steenkamp, Forest Glade, Tokai, Cape Town:  gabi@gabisteenkamp.co.za

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