We all have days at work we wish we would've called in sick, but when those moments happen every day, it might be time to consider a career switch. If you've been cheating on your day job with thoughts of a new career path, you're not alone. According to a recent poll, only 14% of U.S. workers believe they're at their perfect job, while over half want a career change.
Most people stay in a job they hate because they're afraid to take that leap of faith. I can certainly relate to this, as I spent years being miserable working at a job I hated. The thought of doing work that I loved was foreign, and my fears overwhelmed my daily routine. The situation got so bad I would go into the bathroom at work and cry. I felt stuck, alone and scared. I thought, "How can I make a living doing what I love?"
At the time I didn't know what I wanted to do; I just knew what I was doing wasn't working. My depression grew, and to avoid the reality that I hated the direction my life was heading I turned to drugs and developed eating disorders. It wasn't until I asked myself three important questions that my world started to shift. Those questions were:
1. Who am I?
2. What do I want?
3. What step can I take today that my future self will thank me for?
Once I started to explore these key questions my world opened up. I gave myself permission to play in my imagination, and I turned to more positive aspects of what could be rather than what was. I recognized that I have a choice to live a life I love, and my career can be fulfilling.
Today my life is much different than that of the depressed lonely girl who hated her job. I live my passion everyday, and I'm happier than I have ever been. It started with addressing my fear. Once I did that, I was able to get clear about my true desires.
The unknown can be intimidating, but you can reduce the blow by building a solid foundation first. To set yourself up for success, do these five things before you leave a job you hate.
1. Find a mentor who has already navigated the transition.
Find someone who's doing what you want to do and study them. Working with an insider who has already navigated the transition can help you feel more at peace with your decision. You should be careful that you don't exactly emulate your idol’s path, though. The steps they took will not necessarily give you the same results. Everyone has her own unique path, and the best thing you can do in your work with a mentor is to celebrate your mentor's success by seeing what can be possible for you.
2. Do at least one thing every day to become the person you want to be.
When you're stuck in a job you hate, it can be hard to tap into your inner dreamer. Doing at least one thing every day that your future self will thank you for is an important part of the transition. If you're a doctor who wants to be a writer, schedule time every day to write, even if it's only in a journal or a personal blog. Get into the habit of doing what you love on a daily basis.
3. Build a solid foundation to bridge your two worlds.
Before you take that leap into your new life, make sure you build a solid foundation to bridge your two worlds. Save extra money and start mentally planning the details of your escape. Look into education, training or other opportunities that align with your new career choice. Give yourself time to be a beginner and learn new things. The less stress you put on yourself to be successful right away, the more joyous the transition can be, and the more successful you'll be in the long run.
4. Practice patience.
Recognize that everyone starts out as a beginner. It takes time to build a new life, but when you practice patience while working toward your goals, you'll enjoy the process along the way. The best gift my transition gave me was recognizing that the journey is the reward, not the destination.
5. Remember mission over money. (And don't expect your passion to pay right away.)
I see and work with many people who unknowingly fall into the trap of switching careers for money, or trying to turn their passion into major dough early on. This can be a surefire way to fail. Instead, tap into why you want to do what you do. When you focus on the meaning of the change, you let our mission guide you. The money will come. Think about what you would pursue if money weren't a factor. People who are driven by their mission are called to their work, and that work becomes effortless. When you love what you do, you want to do it more, and the money will flow.
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