How to Change Your Life for the Better When You Can’t Change Careers

It seems like people always say, “Well why don’t you change careers?” when it comes to issues at work. But the often overlooked (and unspoken) truth is that sometimes it just isn’t the smartest time to leap into a new endeavor. Whether it’s financial security you can’t afford to lose or simply no time to get the training you need, there are seemingly endless obstacles when it comes to getting the life you’ve dreamed of.

Don’t be fooled!

You don’t have to settle for standing still. Here are a few ways to start making positive changes to your life when you’re stuck in your current job.

Set attainable goals. It’s important to map out exactly which steps you need to take in order to land that dream job. Do you need additional education? Special skills you need to train in? Some sort of license? Do the research, consider your budget and time constrictions, then set realistic goals. Maybe you’ll aim to have first semester’s tuition saved up by this time next year, or you’ll study for the next few months to be ready for a spring qualifying exam. Be bold, but realistic, and don’t forget to write them down!

Make the most of your downtime. I hear ya — you probably don’t have much free time as it is! But if you’re strategic you can make the most of it, and you won’t have to give up all your recreational activities, either. Look for opportunities in your day where you can add some productivity. Perhaps you have a long train commute in the morning that you could devote to reading up on local trends in your area of interest. Maybe a local community center offers evening classes on computer programs you’ll need to know. You could even use your lunch break to watch relevant TED Talks. Once know how to spot the little time windows of opportunity, take advantage as often as possible!

Network, network, network. Never underestimate the power of networking! This is especially important if you hope to join a completely new field. It never hurts to have an early connection that can alert you to open jobs, but they’ll also be able to give you a real idea of what the job is like, as well as what to expect in the application process. The truth is, you should network at every opportunity, even if someone isn’t in the direct field you’re seeking — you never know who they may know!

Share your passion. Tell your parents about it. Write about it on your blog. Discuss it with your spouse. Just make sure you make it a regular conversation! Not only will this keep you engaged and excited, it will hold you accountable to your goals. You’re a lot less likely to chicken out of that state exam if you’ve already told your family you’ve been studying. Plus, it never hurts to have some cheerleaders who can encourage you on tough days.

It won’t happen overnight, but there are steps you can take to pave the way to the future you want. Don’t forget, positive thinking is a major part of achieving your goals: you can and you will achieve them as long as you believe!