Tradition tends to tell you to stick with whatever job you can get and stay there for 30, 40 years, or longer until you can finally retire and live the “good life.”
But perhaps you have a different idea of the kind of life you want.
Maybe you dream of owning your own business, working remotely, completely changing careers, or some other creative endeavor.
Once you have decided what it is you really want to do, the hardest step is making the transition. There are thousands of people who had ideas of other paths, but never took action. If you don’t want to be one of those people, keep reading.
Here are the steps to take to move from your regular job to doing something you really love.
Set aside time each day
Now that you know what you want to do, commit to setting aside time each day to follow your dream. You should consider these dedicated hours as critical to helping you get of your current job. This means you may have to give up some other things temporarily, like movies, going out to eat, or binge-watching TV. Schedule the time in your calendar and stick to it.
Now that you have some dedicated time, start doing research. Whatever it is you want to do, learn all you can about people who are already doing it. Want to write a book? Find an authors’ group on Facebook. Want to go to medical school at age 40? Find someone who has already been through it.
The first reason for this step is to gather as much information as possible. You can discover options you didn’t know existed. You might learn smarter, faster ways to get to where you want to be.
The other reason for this step is that once you start your own transition, you are going to need support. The act of doing this research is going to open networks for you that you can use down the road for advice, resources, and encouragement.
Determine your financial plan
Starting is the hardest part for many reasons, but money tends to be one of the biggest barriers to making the leap. Fortunately, there are ways to work around the money issues to start doing what you love.
Unless you have at least a year’s worth of income already in savings, I would not recommend leaving your current position to start your own business. However, you can start working your business part-time. It might seem like a large undertaking, but think of it as a temporary growing pain. You can do anything for 3 months or 6 months while you build up your new endeavor.
If you are changing careers completely, you can start taking a class or two in the evenings and on weekends, or look for certifications available online. Sometimes you can find programs that will help you transition if it is a high-need field like coding. Or you can find free training and job placement assistance.
Do you want to keep working for someone else but do it remotely or telecommute? Start sending out applications and consider it a part-time job to do so. It will typically take a few months to find something that is a good fit so it’s probably not a good idea to quit your job while you’re hunting. Don’t share your remote job hunting activities with your current boss. The last thing you want is your boss knowing you might not be 100% invested in them anymore. Hold your cards close to your chest, as they say, and wait until you have something else lined up. Then give your two-week notice and sashay out the door!
Consider the other financial issues that may arise with your change:
- Are you planning on selling everything and traveling while you work remotely?
- What about your car?
- What about your other obligations like student loans or other bills?
- Will you need to pay for storage?
- Do you have credit cards for emergencies, car rentals, airline tickets, or hotel deposits?
- Do you have a home to sell or rent while you are gone?
- Will you be paying for a mail service?
- Do you have a good laptop for working online and communicating?
- How much will rent and food be in your new location?
These kinds of factors are going to take time to work through and it’s best to get them cleared before you leave your job. That can be frustrating when you are ready to go like yesterday. But consider this…
Once you have made the decision to make a change and you know you’re on the way out, your current job will actually become a lot more bearable and stress-free. Just knowing you are working toward another option will help you take things in stride and get through each day.
Work your plan
It’s important to write your plan down and have your goals and objectives on a calendar. Once you can see it planned out before you, you’ll be more motivated to work the steps to get you there each day.
Imagine you want to become a freelance writer so that you can leave your current job and travel all over the world. As you start to bring in small projects, you will learn how long it will take you to earn a full-time income. For instance, if someone pays you $50 per article, and you can write two per day, that’s $100.
As you get better at writing, you might write faster and make $150 per day or you might charge more. Then you can create smart goals such as “I will make $300 in a week with my freelance writing by a certain date” and “I will make a full-time income with my freelance writing by a certain date.” These specific goals should be realistic but challenging enough to push you as well. Whatever field or endeavor you want to enter, learn to create a business plan, and write out goals and objectives for building something successful.
Working a dead-end job for decades does not have to be your reality. We (possibly) only get one chance at this life. You should make the best of it and not let social norms, outdated tradition, or what someone else thinks you should do dictate your life. Take the big leap, but start with baby steps. You can get there.