Discovering your dream job late in life can be an overpowering experience. After years of feeling like something was off and that you were living your life on autopilot, you finally have a sense of purpose and the drive to make your dream a reality. At this point, it will be extremely tempting to dive in headfirst, both to make up for lost time and to make sure you don’t lose your newfound motivation.
However, while you don’t want to let this energy go to waste, making major life changes without proper planning can sabotage your goals in the long run. If transitioning to your dream job requires a large investment of time or money, approaching this change slowly and methodically actually gives you a better chance of long-term success.
To plan your transition, try the following 5-step process:
1. Make time for yourself by cutting unnecessary things from your daily routine.
When you start working towards your dream, time is your most valuable resource. There will likely be a period where you have to continue your old work while also making strides towards your new vocation. You’ll only need an hour or two a day to start making progress, but you’d be surprised how difficult it can be to consistently put that effort in. Odds are that you’ll need to cut out some of your leisure activities to make sure you have enough time every day to balance the old and the new.
To start freeing up time, start off with this 3-part exercise:
- Look at your daily routine and write down all the things you feel are essential to your life. If you have a spouse or children, being at home with your family would be one of those things. List everything that is important for your happiness, even if it seems mundane
- Next, look at the list and take off one item. Close your eyes and see that particular thing, and see it being erased from your life. If you watch football on Sunday, see yourself doing that and then see yourself getting up and turning the TV set off. Feel if it is all right. Does it make you sad? It might not make you happy, but if it doesn’t upset you, it’s a good sign you can eliminate it from your life to free up time.
- Go on down the list, doing the same with every item until you have eliminated a few things you feel you can do without. Come back in a day or two and look at the list again. See if it still feels all right to have eliminated certain things. Remember, if you find yourself missing something too much, feel free to put it back.
Related: Spirituality For Busy People
2. Slowly let go of those things you have eliminated, replacing them with things that will get you your dream job.
How many people have you known that decided to get into shape for New Years, went to the gym five days a week in January, only to completely burn out by February? When it comes to changing your career (and your personal life around your career), slow and steady really does win the race.
Take that list of things you wrote down in step 1. Rather than cutting them out all at once, take one at a time, eliminate it, and see how it feels. If your dream job requires you to go back to school, take just one course a semester to avoid burnout.
To suddenly stop doing things you are in the habit of doing and begin something totally new can be frightening, as well as upsetting to the nervous system. Allow your heart to tell you when it feels right to go onward, increasing the pursuit while eliminating items from the list.
3. Tell people in your life about your new calling.
At this point, it should be clear if the transition to your new vocation will require significant restructuring of your routine and personal life. If it will, it’s important to have long talks with your family and loved ones to explain exactly what you are doing and why. Let them ask questions and challenge you. If a family member doesn’t accept that you are changing careers, listen to the reasoning and try to understand how that person must be feeling.
Does the loved one feel threatened that, if you change careers, then maybe your love will change? How does this person relate to your new vocation? Look at that. If you decide to go into public life and become, for example, a politician, does your spouse fit in? Does your new vocation require them to change, as well? If you pursue your career without thinking of how that career will affect those at home, you may find yourself losing what you value the most.
4. Separate valid feedback from emotional criticism.
Sadly, there will always be people who will try to dissuade or discourage you. They will insinuate that you haven’t the talent to do the work, or that you’re starting too late to compete with people who’ve been in the field their entire adult lives. Many have lost their dreams by listening to such advice from well-intentioned friends.
If people have not achieved their own vocation and are not content, they will be the first to try to talk you out of yours. Don’t listen. But, if the person is someone you love, ask your loved one to believe in you and understand your need to aspire to the new work.
5. Take action, or wait until the time is right.
At this point in the process, you should have a firm understanding of what your career switch will entail, what you’ll need to eliminate from your life to achieve it, and how the people closest to you feel about your plans. Major life changes will almost always be difficult, but it’s important to ask yourself: is making the switch to my dream job simply difficult, or is it impossible? Is it financially feasible? Is it asking too much of your family?
If you are transitioning gradually as outlined in steps 1 and 2, it shouldn’t be too much of a strain on you or your loved ones. But in some cases, even small changes can be difficult to make without serious family disruptions. If your Higher Self tells you this is the case, then you may have to wait until the time is right. If this happens, keep the vocation in your heart. Don’t forget it. Remind yourself that you will work toward it one day, and return to this process once your situation changes.
This article is based on the teachings of the founder of Higher Self Yoga, Nanette V. Hucknall, adapted from her book Karma, Destiny and Your Career: A New Age Guide to Finding Your Work and Loving Your Life. To learn more about discovering your true vocation and how to make it a reality, pick up your copy today!
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