Imagine it’s Monday morning and your alarm goes off. You stretch and then put your feet on the ground. How do you feel? Indifferent? Bored? Nausea at the idea of spending another day at your current job? If you work 50 weeks a year (with 2 weeks vacation a year) and work 30 years, that’s a lot of time to spend at a job you hate—and I believe that life is too short to go through it hating your job.
There are steps you can take to find a job you love that also pays you well. These include deciding which career you would like to do, researching the quickest route to that career, taking on some side gigs, continuing to improve your work and expanding your knowledge and reach.
I’ve read lots of articles and books on how other people found success in a career they loved and realized that they all had some things in common—for example, they took consistent action, setting up smaller goals along the way, and identified and then followed the quickest route possible. I put these principles into a “road map,” which are the steps you can take to get you from where you are now to where you want to be without taking years and years to do it. I applied these principles to my own life and it’s changed my life for the better.
DECIDE WHAT CAREER YOU WOULD LOVE TO DO INSTEAD
This may seem obvious but it’s amazing how many people have no idea what else they would like to do. If you don’t know where you want to go then you can’t get to your destination. If you could have that one dream job in the world, what would it be? Be specific. Don’t just say, “I want to work with children” or “I want to do something creative.” Knowing exactly what you want to do is going to help you take the steps you need to get there without wasting your time. You might say something like “I want to work with children by teaching them about science” or “I want make a living by writing about popular travel destinations.”
If you’re one those people who isn’t sure, try asking yourself the following questions:
- If I had to read 10 non-fiction books on one subject, what would it be?
- If I had lots of free time, what hobby would I engage in?
- Who has a career that seems interesting to me? (Think of friends, family, acquaintances and even people you come across online.)
- When I was a kid, what did I enjoy doing and what did I want to be when I grew up?
You could also brainstorm ideas based around a field you enjoy. For examples, let’s say you enjoy painting. Possible careers include not just selling your paintings but working at an art gallery, teaching classes, starting a painting restoration business…You could even stretch your imagination further by going into graphic design.
Whatever that passion is, don’t think you can’t make money in the field of your choice. You can become quite wealthy in any field. You just have to become an expert at it, which I discuss below.
FIND THE QUICKEST ROUTE TO YOUR DESIRED CAREER
Once you have an idea of what you would like to do, you’ll want to research the steps it would take to get you there. Try to find the quickest route you can take (without sacrificing quality). One way to do this is to search for people who are doing what you would like to do. Look at their credentials and background. This can give you an idea of where to start.
Also, look at online classes and, specifically, certifications. I usually don’t recommend going for a four-year degree unless the job you want absolutely requires it. College is expensive and is a long process. You also waste time by having to take required classes that have nothing to do with your degree. If getting a degree is required but not practical due to your age or living situation (like you have three small kids at home) then look for a related job that you could do with some type of certification.
Even better, look into starting your own business in that field—even if it’s just you working as a freelancer. I always recommend starting your own business because at the end of the day, no one can stop you. You don’t have to wait around for someone to decide to hire you to get started. Plus, you can start it on the side while still keeping your main job. But you’ll need to know the costs and possible roadblocks of starting a business in the field of your choice. That should be part of your research.
Once you’ve done your research, write down the steps you need to take to have your dream job and check them off as you complete them. Break these steps into small ones and then take at least one of these small steps each day toward your goal. (Yes, each and every day. Otherwise, it’s too easy to get side-tracked and the next thing you know, years have gone by and that job you would have loved to have will still be just a dream.) Be sure to check these steps off as you go.
So many people get caught up in the “big dream” and forget about all the little steps it will take to get there. Instead, focus on the one things you can do today to get started, even if it’s as simple as looking up the state fees required to start your own business or signing up for an online class. Then tomorrow, take another step; the day after, another and so on. The key word here, by the way, is do. Just talking about doing something won’t get you anywhere. You have to take action.
TAKE ON SOME SIDE GIGS
Launch your passion as a side gig as soon as possible. Once you know where you need to go and some steps you need to take to get there, start a side gig with the intention of growing it into full time—whether that’s with a company or your own business. (Even if your goal is to work for someone else, launching a side gig can help you get hired by a quality company since you’ll gain work experience along the way.)
Starting a small side gig gives you real-world, hands-on experience. It also gets extra money coming in. Get some business cards and start reaching out to your own social circle and let them know about your new career. It’s amazing how much work you can get just by letting those around you know.
If your work can be done virtually, you can look on sites like Upwork.com, freelancer.com and fiverr.com for people looking for the type of work you’re offering.
Also, don’t discount advertising on craigslist.com. When I had my education business, I was amazed at how many customers I got by posting on this site. It was free to post at the time yet this site brought in more business than running ads on Google and Bing ever did.
CONTINUE TO IMPROVE YOUR WORK
Becoming an expert in the field of your choice is when the big money comes in. When you become the go-to person for a particular subject or product, people are willing to pay you top dollar for it.
The same holds true if you own a product-based business . Your business can become the go-to company for a particular line of products. A good example of this is Apple. They became really good at making phones and computers—i.e. they became “experts” in their field—and are able to charge top-dollar for their products.
Becoming an expert is all about solving problems and offering the best solutions for a fair price to customers. It consists of two steps:
- Constantly learning based on research and feedback from others: You have to have a thirst for knowledge in your field to become an expert. Otherwise, it won’t work. Read books and articles, watch videos and ask others (those around you and online) what they think. This will help you identify problems people have and offer the best solution to that problem.
- Adapting and improving your product or service accordingly: The world is ever-changing, which means our problems can alter even if only in the slightest way. This means you will have to constantly be adjusting your solution, which is your product or service. As an expert, you have to consistently be aware of changes in culture and perception and be willing to adjust as quickly as possible.
By the way, reaching out to others for feedback also helps market your product or service while giving you the feedback you need to improve.
EXPAND YOUR REACH
Reaching out to other sin person and online does two things: Brings more business (or a better paying job) your way and helps improve your image as an expert in your field. Have you ever heard of the saying, “You are who you associate with?” This definitively applies to business. If you want more money, you can’t be an island—you have to market yourself, which means reaching out to others. Here are some ideas on how to do that:
Get Your Own Website or Page
Whether you want your own business or want to get hired by a company, you need your own website—or at least a completed profile on LinkedIn. Having your own space on the web where you can direct either potential employers or customers shows your serious about your work and gives them a much better idea of who you are and what you do.
Just be sure that if you have your own website, that it’s professionally done. As someone who has designed many websites over the years, I’m always amazed when I come across some websites that look they’re from 1998—or they’re confusing or poorly written. Your website is your calling card. Do it well; anything less could work against you.
Pick the Social Media Avenue of Your Choice
You can do this by writing, speaking, networking and building a community through Twitter, YouTube, writing a blog etc. Start with the medium that naturally fits your personality. If you’re a painter who is also a talker then you could do painting instruction through video and post them on YouTube. If you enjoy taking photos, you could focus on Instagram and Pinterest. If you feel more comfortable being “backstage” then you could have a website where you share and write about your paintings and painting techniques and then market your website via a blog, Twitter and or any other medium that is more writing and less talking.
Don’t Forget About Real-World Connections
Don’t forget to get out a bit and meet people in real life. Connecting in person will give you a different kind of boost than what you get online. Plus, it’s great to be around like-minded people.
Try MeetUp.com, Facebook groups, business organizations and networking events. You can even mention these events or business groups to which you belong on your website.
Connecting in person can net you more business or a better job because it gives another person the chance to get know you. If you make a genuine connection with someone, they’re more likely to send work your way.
VISUALIZE A BETTER LIFE
Now imagine it’s Monday morning and your alarm goes off (or maybe you wake up naturally because you’re now self-employed and can start work whenever you want!). You stretch and then put your feet on the ground. You feel excited and can’t wait to get the day started because you love your job.
This is the life that can be yours. Moving into a new field can be daunting and scary—I know how that feels. But you can change your life if you’re willing to take action. As the saying goes, the journey of a 1,000 miles begins with the first step. Take action each day—one step at a time—and before you know it, you’ll be in paradise:)