Do you feel like you're just spinning your wheels at your current job? Have you been waiting for the chance to cut loose and start your own business or go freelance? You're certainly not alone. There are hundreds of people who decided to take a step forward and turn their dream into reality. However, leaving the comfort of your current routine can seem like a terrifying, or even impossible future. If you're worried about making a major lifestyle or career transition, it can help to break it up into several steps and approach it incrementally. Here are five steps you can take to move toward a more self-fulfilling life.
1. Understand your goals and the required sacrifices.
First things first: you need to establish some realistic expectations for yourself. Before you strike out to work as a freelance photographer or start your own restaurant, you must thoroughly understand what you're hoping to get out of the experience. Are you wanting to build personal connections with clients, empower others, or become known as an expert within a certain field? Or do you want a lifestyle that will keep you on the road, traveling to exciting new destinations? Create a list of clear expectations and use this list as your guiding star as you move forward with future career and lifestyle decisions.
On the flip side, you also need to understand that these major changes will likely come with sacrifices. Entrepreneurs, freelancers and other individuals who chase their passions must be prepared to sacrifice an inordinate amount of money and personal time into brand new endeavors. When you start chasing your dream lifestyle, there's no guarantee that you'll be receiving the income or benefits that you're accustomed to. Those who live a nomadic lifestyle will be sacrificing personal lifestyle stability, affecting aspects such as health care, pet ownership and residential property decisions. Before making the leap, take a good hard look at what you'll be willing to live without.
2. Set realistic safety net goals.
Before you take major, irreversible steps toward your dreams, it's also important to move forward with a backup plan. It will be impossible to mitigate every single risk, but you should at least prepare for the worst. When it comes to assessing your finances, it's wise to spend a little extra to speak with an accountant or financial planner for some solid, professional advice. If you are thinking about making a professional transition, then find a financial professional who works with others in your dream industry. They can help you identify and avoid common pitfalls and early challenges. These professionals can also help you set realistic goals and plan for potential setbacks.
3. Build relevant connections.
It's important to have support while you chase your dreams. While your friends and family might have your back, you'll also want to gain the support of others who are currently doing what you'd like to do. These individuals can give you an insider's look at the industry you're attempting to enter. Sometimes, the best way to do this is to just start emailing your heroes. Be honest and give these contacts a brief summary of what you're trying to accomplish. Don't shy away from email correspondences, because they can be incalculably powerful. In her article, "How to Build a Network from Scratch," Danielle Herzberg explains, "Through just a simple question leading to a short email introduction, I encountered a terrific mentor whom I now meet with regularly."
4. Make the leap.
It's possible to get into a rut with research and preparation. Give yourself strict deadlines for making major life changes, so that you will be held to some kind of schedule. If you find yourself spending years on preparation with no end in sight, then you might just be procrastinating and putting off the difficult choices.
5. Avoid stagnation.
When you're out pursuing your dream career or lifestyle, you might find yourself falling into routines or ruts that you're unhappy with. It's important to stay focused on why you're pursuing this passion. Try new avenues if your current approach isn't working. If you're productive, but doing work that isn't fulfilling, think about switching gears, finding new clients and building new connections.
Are you feeling inspired to make a major lifestyle change? Start planning your escape from the mundane now, set goal deadlines, have a financial backup plan, and give your dreams a shot!