Career Transition Success - Three Take-Charge Steps

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The reasons people give most often when challenged on why they are not following their passions or pursing their dreams boil down to four things:

  • "I don't have the time."
  • "I don't have the money."
  • "My family obligations or job or ____ (fill in the blank) is preventing me from doing what I really want and love to do."
  • "I have no idea where to start."

If what you really want is to live a life of purpose, loving what you do and feeling more fulfilled in your job, career or profession, there are ways around these obstacles. Read on to learn basic steps that get you moving towards what you most want, starting this very minute.

1. Make time for your priorities

If you are chronically pressed for time, there are a variety of actions you can take to carve out the minutes and hours needed to build the life you long for. One good place to start is learning how to delegate.

In a nutshell, delegating is about passing along activities that must be done but don't necessarily need to be done by you. At work, start paying attention to tasks that could be completed by someone else or that constitute a development opportunity for a more junior member of your team. Coach them on what to do and hand the work over. At home, delegate cooking, cleaning and ongoing chores to family members depending on age and ability; spread the work around. Live alone and work for yourself? Hire a virtual assistant to take on routine duties that get in the way of you accomplishing your goals (find out how to do this in Tim Ferris' book, The Four Hour Work Week).

The trick here is learning to accept everyone has their own way of doing things, which might not be your way. If the goal is to find more time for your priorities, keep your eye on this prize and not on the details of how others do a particular task. So what if your teenager or roommate makes pasta and tomato sauce each time he is scheduled to make dinner? If his cooking saves you half an hour you can use to work on your career transition strategy or small business idea, you are on your way to acting on your priorities.

2. Pay yourself first

Many people think of saving money as the thing you do with what is left over after you have paid all your bills. Turn this equation around and pay yourself first. Is your dream to travel to Italy for two weeks? Or pursue a career that requires upgrading your skills? If so, figure out what you need to save to achieve that dream and open up an automatic savings account. Make your goal the first thing that gets paid.

I learned this years ago, and regardless of other financial pressures in my life, always put aside $250 a month (adding up to $3000 a year!) so I could fulfill my dream of hiking on every continent. Even saving $85 a month will have you happily looking at a $1000 bank balance after 12 months. If that $1000 dollars buys you the camera you need to design and sell unique greeting cards or start a small wedding photography business, it is money well spent.

3. Don't let excuses get in the way

This may be the toughest challenge of all. You may have legitimate reasons for not being able to do what is most important to you. Maybe you have healthcare, childcare or eldercare issues that take up the vast majority of your time and energy. Maybe you are dealing with debts or your spouse is out of a job and you are working overtime to keep the bills paid.

In this case, I challenge you to really think about the first two points. If you are not putting your time and money first in the most modest way, you are allowing your circumstances or other people's needs to take the most precious thing you have away - your ability to choose.

On a small scale, set aside a dollar a day and an hour a week to enjoy a coffee and pastry while sitting in the park reading a library book about something you really care about. This alone can be the springboard from which you leap when your circumstances change and allow you to take bigger steps towards your dreams.

The bottom line in all this is quite simple: this is your life and the quality of it depends to a large extent on the choices you make each and every day. Take back control of how you spend your time and think about money, and start making choices aligned with who you are and what you most want to do. Before long, you will build from these small successes the larger ones that lead to a more fulfilling and meaningful life, one you long to step into at the start of each and every day.

And by the way, having read this you can no longer claim you don't know how or where to start. Good luck!

Lisa Schmidt Winsor, M.Ed., ATC is a Professional Career Transition Coach at Crossroads Career Transition. She is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and the International Association of Facilitators.

Learn more about career transition and what Lisa can do for you at

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