Follow these 10 steps to change course, escape the job world, and create the life you want.
- GET THE POINT — OF LIFE, THAT IS. As you look back on your life in old age, do you think you’ll wish you done less or done more? The point is, life is too short to spend toiling away at a job that pays the bills but fails to feed the spirit. Despite pressure to “play it safe” by sticking with your day job (“But dear, you have a good job, you mean you want to be HAPPY too?”) you have every right to pursue your dream job. With the realization that life is for living comes another point. Ultimately it is up to you — and you alone — to create the kind of life you really want.
- GET THE RIGHT PICTURE. Set aside all the career stuff for a moment and instead ask yourself what you want your LIFE to look like. Find a comfortable spot, close your eyes, and image the ideal day. What time do you wake up? What do you want to see when you look out your window? Do you picture yourself working from home, from a sail boat, from a flat in Paris? Would you prefer to work alone or with others or some combination? How does your ideal day end? Are you enjoying time with friends? Watching the sunset with someone you love? Soaking in a hot tub or getting a massage? Bottom line: You won’t see yourself doing it until you can see yourself doing it.
- GET CLUED INTO YOUR PASSION. Focus less on your skills (what you CAN do) or your resume (what you HAVE done) and instead, try to tune into what it is you really LOVE and WANT to do. What types of things did you love to do as a child? What kinds of characteristics or talents do people compliment you on? What kind of work or lifestyles do you envy? If you don’t yet have the knowledge or skills to turn your heart work into a business venture, make it your business to fill the gaps.
- GET A GRIP ON “IT.” In her book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers says IT is what scares you — and ultimately, what’s holding you back from going after your dream. Let’s face it — shaking up your life is scary. Yet, “Unless you walk out into the unknown,” says Tom Peters, “the odds of making a profound difference in your life are pretty low.” So go ahead and indulge in your worst-case fantasy. Then get busy figuring out what steps you can take to prevent it from happening.
- GET REAL. Launching your own business takes time and effort. You should also expect a drop in income — at least in the beginning. Now is the time to revisit the ideal life you outlined in Step 2 and ask yourself, “How much do I really want my ideal life? What am I willing to do or give up to get it?” If you are serious about living life on your own terms, the sacrifice will be worth it.
- GET INFORMED. Change always seems scarier when you have either inadequate, or worse, inaccurate information. Go to the library. Join associations. Talk to people who have started similar businesses. Take classes. Read trade publications. The more informed you are, the less “risky” the risks become.
- GET READY. There are lots of things you can start doing now to ready yourself for your new life. Take advantage of any and all training and educational opportunities available in your community or through your employer. Start spending less and saving more. Invest in equipment, inventory, whatever it is you’ll be needing in your new life now, while you still have your regular paycheck.
- GET SUPPORT. Actively seek out others who share your passion for living life on your own terms. Start meeting weekly with other aspiring entrepreneurs to generate ideas, share information, set goals, and help each other stay on track.
- GET GOING. To keep from being overwhelmed — yet still make headway — break your larger goal down into more manageable steps. Then, no matter how hectic thing get, pledge to take at least one action a day. Even the smallest actions — jotting down a new idea, reading a single page, or making one phone call — start to add up. And, once you actually get the ball rolling, it’s hard to stop!
- GET GRATITUDE. At the same time you’re setting your sights on achieving your future goal, be mindful of how much abundance you have in your life RIGHT NOW! Changing course is a journey. Count your blessings and enjoy the ride. When you think about it, it’s all we really have.
Searching for even more career-change advice? Check out all the tools, tips, and resources in our Job & Career Resources for Career Changers.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Valerie Young is Dreamer-in-Residence at ChangingCourse.com, an on-line resource dedicated to helping you find your life mission and live it featuring the new e-Book, Finding Your True Calling: The Handbook For People Who Still Don’t Know What They Want To Be When They Grow Up. Her career change tips have appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, USA Weekend, The Guardian [London], Reader’s Digest, and Redbook, and online at MSN, Careerbuilder, and IVillage. Valerie specializes in helping people generate creative alternatives to having a j-o-b. Copyright Valerie Young.
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