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How to Make the Jump From Employee to Entrepreneur in 5 Steps How can you stop being a cog in someone else's machine and venture out into the world of entrepreneurship?

By Geoff Woods Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What I have to say may upset you, or it may inspire you: We all have amazing dreams and aspirations, but many people will never achieve them because they were set up to live a mediocre life.

When you look at our society and the way you were raised, you were taught to get good grades in school so you could get into a good college. Once you got your acceptance letter you studied hard so you could get a good job. The day came where you put on your cap and gown, walked across the stage and began your life in the professional world with the hopes of climbing the corporate ladder fast.

You work hard so one day you can save up enough money to retire. Fast-forward 20 years and you're in your 40s working a job that doesn't fulfill you and you ask: Is this all life is? Am I doomed to a life of mediocrity?

Related: 6 Reasons to Reconsider Your Planned Corporate Escape

Entrepreneur and consultant Justin Lafazan and I discussed this topic. Justin's perspective is that people are starting to challenge the status quo and redefine what the path to success looks like.

So how can you stop being a cog in someone else's machine and venture out into the world of entrepreneurship? Here is how you can take control of your life and switch from employee to entrepreneur:

1. Recognize that you have a clean slate in front of you.

If you're still reading this, then you probably want to have the choice of leaving your current job for your own business. Great!

First, you first have to recognize that you have a clean slate in front of you. I have a lot of friends who began their careers as CPAs and do not feel that they spend their days living their true calling. Yet so many of them feel that if they were to start a business, they would have to leverage their CPA.

Don't let your past experience be a weight that holds you down from doing what you were born to do!

2. Identify what you were born to do.

How do you figure this out? While there is no cookie-cutter approach, Justin recommended the following:

  • Identify your passions. What do you love to do?
  • Identify your skills. What are you really good at?
  • Identify your values. What really matters to you?
  • Find the intersection of those three.

Related: A 3-Step Formula to Success -- Really

This exercise does not work like a gumball machine where you put a quarter in and out pops your life's calling. What it will do is help you ask yourself the right questions every day, which over time will build your awareness and help you navigate your path.

3. Find the right mentors.

At this point you have a choice. You can try to navigate this process on your own and waste a lot of time and money, or you can find people who have done this before and let them help you.

4. Turn your day job into a game.

We all have 24 hours in a day, yet how is it that some people are able to get so much more done? It all boils down to efficiency. The faster and better you get something done, the more time you free up to take on the next task.

Now that you have set the intention of starting your own business you will need to free up some time. The best way to do this is to turn your day job into a game. With my sales job, I ask myself every day, "How can I earn twice as much income working half the time?"

Questions such as this will change the way you view your job and get you excited about getting things done. This will help you multiply your time exponentially.

Go ahead and come up with your own empowering questions and turn your job into a game!

5. Give yourself the choice to burn the ship once you're got another boat.

Many people preach burning the ships so you have no option other than to succeed. That has worked for some and compromised others. When you have to put a roof over your family's head and food on the table, you may want to take a more conservative approach.

You've committed to performing at your day job at the highest level so you can free up time to build your business on the side. Once your business gets to a point where you have replaced your income you can choose to burn the ship, or not. Either way, you have the choice.

While society has set you up to live a mediocre life, at the end of the day it's your life and you are accountable for it. You have made the investment in yourself, now go take action and live an extraordinary life!

Related: Stop Saying You Don't Have Time to Start a Business. Make Time With These 6 Tips.

Geoff Woods

Vice President at The ONE Thing, Founder of The Mentee Podcast, Entrepreneur.

Geoff Woods, a medical device salesman by day, is the host of The Mentee Podcast where he documents his journey from employee to entrepreneur and highlights conversations he has with his high-level mentors. Woods's passion is helping others accelerate their success by surrounding them with the right mentors and the right ideas.

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