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A career that provides a sense of accomplishment, good compensation and overall job satisfaction can be the groundwork needed to rebuild your life when the rest of your world falls out from under you.  In addition to establishing financial support needed to live independent of your former spouse, it provides professional fulfillment and social interaction.

If you don’t currently have a satisfying career, it may be time to make a career change based on your strengths, interests and experience.

The hard part is making the commitment to initiate a career change.  Once you do, the anticipation of a better career will make planning, learning and/or training for something a lot easier.

How to get started 

First evaluate your financial needs. 

What will you need each year over the next 10 years in order to maintain your expenses (consider inflation), save for the future and have enough left over for the lifestyle you wish to achieve?

Consider what you enjoy.

What inspires you?  What are the things that get and hold your attention?  What activities provide a sense of accomplishment?  What hobbies, tasks, jobs provide the potential for an opportunity?

Determine your strengths.

It’s so much easier to succeed at something you enjoy and already have the natural talent and skills to do.  Think about your personal and professional strengths.  Are you a good communicator, caregiver, free thinker, creator, organizer?

Choose your career.  Don't let your career choose you.

How we get stuck.

Sometimes our strengths, experience and qualifications get us stuck with something we aren't really inspired to do.  We make money, receive referrals and commendations so we keep moving up in a career we really don’t like. Sometimes we feel obligated based on benefits like health insurance and 401(k) for our family.  

Over the years, we may witness friends and colleagues take risks with their careers and fail.  This may contribute to our own fears about making changes.

We get divorced and feel the pinch when our living expenses increase while the household income and marital assets get halved.  So we stay.  Only problem is that staying isn't making us happy.  

If this sounds like you, it may be time to divorce your career.  But don’t quit your day job just yet.

Be who you should be.

You determined your strengths and financial goals.  You know what you enjoy and realize you may need to make a change to ensure a better future.  

The tough part is in realizing how your interests should compliment your career, but not be totally relied upon to choose your new path.  

This means you should not only choose a career that includes what you love, but make sure it’s something that fits your skills and strengths. It should also be inline with your financial requirements and long-term goals.

If you are really good at your current job and it doesn't make enough money, happiness or provide professional satisfaction, you haven’t recognized your full potential and value in the right career.  You can be anyone you want; be the best at something you would enjoy!

Let go.

You have seen others chase their dream jobs or businesses.  Consider what those who failed did wrong and how you could avoid the same mistakes.  Determine their blind spots that may have contributed to their failure. Next, consider the  aspects of your new career or business that could be in your blind spot? 

Make sure you evaluate all potential pitfalls.  Don't talk yourself out of it, just re-work your plan, consider other interests that could be more profitable if the original plan doesn't make good financial sense. 

Be objective and honest with yourself like your on both sides of the debate.  You wouldn't want an overly eager, optimistic career planner sell you on an idea that won't meet all of your goals.  Conversely, you don't want to be a naysayer, in your own way of a successful career.  Just consider all the facts.  Determine what and how long it will take to achieve your goals.  If you decide the path to a better career is right for you, develop your plan and get started.

You don't need to let go of your current job until you have financial resources in place or budgetary changes to ensure your success in your new venture, education or training plan. 

First, acknowledge what you’re doing is not what you want, in order to see yourself in a career that is more than what you’re good at, but a career that you’ll love!

Take action

Evaluate your current situation.

Recognize where you can make changes in order to begin your new path towards your better career.  You may not be able to dedicate a full change in your schedule, career, education or lifestyle; but, you should be able to find ways to modify your current situation in order to fit a reasonable amount of your new pursuit into your life. 

Determine your priorities.

In the beginning, your new career will be about 90/10 (90% focus and importance placed on your current income and job and 10% future dream job).  As time goes on, the percentages will change, until the importance and your priority will be to focus on your new career path.  This means you will begin to make lifestyle changes and adjustments, sacrifices and cutbacks in order to clear the path for what you're meant to do.  

Don't quit your day job.

Your new endeavor shouldn't make you crazy.  So don't over-schedule yourself.  This can lead to burn-out and/or quitting your new endeavor and/or your current job. 

Keep your current source of income or find an interim job with sufficient income until your new career can provide for your financial needs.  Most of you will need to maintain most of your income until your new career can provide (depending on budgetary changes). 

Add commitments for your new career to your schedule gradually to give you and your family a chance to get used to the journey towards a better future.

Get serious.

Dreamers dream.  Maybe they dabble a bit, make excuses and never succeed.  Are you one of those people?

If you’re serious about a better career and life you'll need to take actions that employ a reasonable difference.  Maybe you can't take a full course load at school, but you shouldn't take one class a semester either.  The longer it takes to complete your journey, the more likely something will stop you.  So, make a long-term plan, but there should be a foreseeable end.

Speak with experts.

Finally, before you make changes to your schedule, spend time or money and/or make any changes to your current income source or budget, you should speak with experts in the prospective field of interest.  Research the career and education/training program online and at local business centers and libraries.  Once you have a reasonable understanding of the vocation and what is required to get started, you should contact experts for advice on getting started. The U.S. Small Business Administration and other trade organizations have mentors and established business leaders who can provide invaluable guidance and advice free of charge.


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