One of the most challenging, yet satisfying, things I've done in my life is to go from working in jobs that seemed like the right thing to do but was really just settling, to taking the leap and doing something I really love.
Growing up in England, life was pretty much set out for you in terms of schooling, followed by some type of traditional job at a company. For me, this meant working in a legal firm. It felt like settling for what other people expected me to do with my life. Inside, I had this creative bent that was screaming to get out. While I could make a great living as a lawyer, I started to believe that I could also make an even better living doing something I loved.
At that time, the idea of entrepreneurship was not as widespread in England. Sure, there were the Richard Bransons of the world, but it wasn't typically done. I had many people frown upon my decision to give up my legal career and start a creative marketing and public relations agency. At age 23, it might have seen like a crazy thing to do considering I had spent all that time at university to become a lawyer. Yet it took being in that job to realize that career wasn't for me. Maybe you're in the same spot now with a career that doesn't feel right.
While you don't have go down the same path I did, you can go after the job you love rather than settling into a career that just pays the bills but doesn't give you anything to feel passionate about. Here's the process I used to make the change in my career:
- Consciously decide to change. I realized that I enjoyed other activities more than my job as a lawyer and felt like I was destined to be doing something else. By admitting that you know you don't like your job, you are opening your mind to other possibilities. This step gets the ball rolling toward what you can do to make this switch a reality.
- Make a list of what you're good at. This is where all the creative activities really showed up and dominated the list. Doing this also makes the idea of pursuing your passion more real for you. The list may also reveal if there are other skills you need before you can transition to the other job.
- Compile the pros and cons of changing jobs. This might include the possibility of more education and training. For me, I was starting my own business, so I really felt like the biggest hurdle was financial. However, since I was single at the time with no real responsibilities, it was easier to see that the pros of jumping ship made sense to me. Making this list will also frame the potential of changing careers and provide a roadmap of what you may need to address before doing so.
- Imagine yourself in the job you love. I saw myself actually doing what I love in the creative industry. With that visualization, it provided me with the connection and confidence I needed to pursue it further. This is a simple exercise that you can repeat in your mind where you envision yourself doing what you love, and thinking about how it makes you feel. That picture and those feelings then help convince you to keep pursuing that change.
- Take on side work in that new field. Doing side projects related to what I loved was a way to get comfortable with the idea of the new role. It also helped me realize that it was definitely what I'd rather be doing, because I rushed through my job to get to that side work. This side work will also tell you if it is something feasible and sustainable for your career goals and financial obligations.
- Create an action plan. An action plan included when and how to quit my job, where I needed to go to start my own business, and how I would fund it until it was making money. It's important to draw up an action plan with dates to keep you focused on making this type of transaction, or it will just seem easier to stay stuck where you are.
- Execute the action plan. At that point, I had mentally, emotionally and physically prepared to go after the job that I loved. The action plan just gave me the roadmap and the starting line.