You’re ready to make your next move and tap into your genius. Maybe it’s time for you to start the business you’ve always wanted to, apply for that dream job across the country, or get out of your hourly-pay job and begin a career.
Whatever the case, you need a major career change, but you don’t know what to do. And leaving your current employment situation feels terrifying.
You worry your 401(k) will disappear, that your kids won’t be able to go to college, or that you’ll end up barefoot and homeless under a bridge somewhere.
You may say that you’re afraid of not having security. But isn’t it scarier to go your whole life without living out your purpose? I say yes. It’s time to make a change, and here are the six steps to doing it strategically.
Before You Begin
Do you believe that in one year, you could get the same type of job you have today and get hired for what you’re being paid now? If the answer is no, that tells me you already think you’re being overpaid or that you’re not qualified for the job you currently have. If that’s what you truly believe, then it’s not a good idea to do what I’m describing in this blog. If the answer is yes (which it should be), it’s time to move forward.
Step 1: Assess the Stakes
The starting point for change is realizing how painful it would ultimately be to stay in your current situation. Imagine that in three years, I asked you what you were doing. You say the exact same thing that you’re doing now. How does that feel?
If you are fine with that, I give you permission to stop reading this article. You should stay where you are.
If, on the other hand, you’d feel even a twinge of disappointment to have gone nowhere in three years, it’s time to do my worst-case, best-case scenario evaluation to determine what your next move should be.
It’s been a year, and you’ve spent 365 days hustling toward your dream job. Even if everything went wrong, what have you lost? Absolutely nothing. That’s right: The worst case scenario is that you stay in the same life you’re in now.
When I signed a six-month contract to perform on a cruise ship, I left everything— my family, friends, house, and car. Because it was 1985, I couldn’t even text those people to check in. But when I came back, everything was exactly the same. It was like I’d never left. All this to say: Don’t be afraid to take six months or a year to try something new. Your life will be waiting if you want to come back to it.
You made the choice to invest in you. You spent your evenings and weekends hustling for your dream life. And you completely and totally nailed it.
You’re more fulfilled. You’re contributing to a team. People are excited that you’re at work. You’re proud to tell your kids about what you contribute to the world.
Maybe you started sewing purses in your basement with your best friend. Once you started selling them, you couldn’t make them fast enough in your basement, so you had to hire two of your friends to come help you. The first year, you made $10,000 in sales. The third year, you made $1 million. You became one of the premier purse and accessory companies in the industry.
Think that would never happen? Talk to the ladies at Vera Bradley. That’s how they started.
I can’t give you one example of a person who achieved success by staying in their status quo—and your life is no exception. Of course, it might take more than a year to get there, but in one year, I promise that you’ll be on the right path. How do you get on that path, you ask? Follow me.
Step 2: Learn to Juggle
You say you don’t like your job, and you say you want a change. But how much do you want it? In order to create change, you have to make time. Are you willing to start another part-time job called your future?
If you’ve seen my keynote or if you’ve ever juggled, you know how difficult it feels at first to add the third juggling ball. Adding your new part time job will feel like adding a third (or fourth, or twentieth) thing to juggle in your life. You will drop the ball multiple times before you learn to catch it—and that’s OK!
And here’s a helpful hint: If you’re holding a useless brick in one hand, you won’t be able to juggle anything. What’s your brick? Maybe it’s oversleeping or scrolling for hours on your phone.
Instead of using weekends and evenings to binge-watch Netflix, you’ll spend your time off working toward your dream life. It might take you a month, nine months, or a year. How much time are you willing to devote to doing what you were put on the planet to do?
Step 3: Ask the Experts
Wherever you’re going, someone else has gone there before you. (Unless you’re Neil Armstrong making his journey to the moon, but that’s beside the point.)
Don’t just sit in your living room Googling things. Go talk to people. Is there a corporation that you dream of working for? Find out what bar all the employees go to after work and ask them how they got their job. Are you mutual friends with a successful entrepreneur? Buy them lunch and listen to their story. Don’t be afraid to join communities before you’re part of them and learn from the best.
As important as real, in-person connection is, you can and should leverage the internet to your advantage. Connect with people in LinkedIn who have your dream job—and always add a note with your request. Start a blog or a podcast and interview people in your industry. You’ll make connections and create a fantastic portfolio to impress future employers and clients.
Step 4: Make the Switch Strategically
Twenty years ago, I was a professional mime who wanted to become a professional speaker. (Ironic, I know.) Instead of throwing away my white-face makeup the minute I decided to become a speaker, I played the role of both a speaker and a mime. I committed to keep pursuing both careers until I was making the same amount doing just speaking. As soon as both paychecks were equal, I booked my last mime job.
When do you know that your side hustle can become your full-time career? Well, what is your cost of living for one year? Calculate that using this handy tool. Once you can make that in your new job—whether that amount comes through one job contract or the sum of multiple contracts like I talked about in this blog—you’re ready to transition.
Step 5: Create an Epic Exit Strategy.
Whatever avenue you take, don’t get frustrated and quit your job immediately. Instead you must develop a thoughtful exit strategy. The goal is to leave as a legend.
Bring doughnuts every day, overproduce and follow through on everything. Make people miss you. You want them to give you the best review ever. For a reminder on how to be the hero of a workplace, check out my blog on the duck man.
Step 6: Get on Stage
There are a million dreams sitting in people’s minds, but they never come into the world because people tell themselves that their dreams are stupid or scary.
Giving your dream a chance is like auditioning for a show: You have absolutely nothing to lose. After all, the worst that could happen is that you don’t get the part and your life stays the same. You’ll always be better off for trying and failing because you can live with the peace of mind that you gave your dream a chance.
And spoiler alert: Your chance of success is unquestionable when you believe in your dream. It might not be this role or this show, but auditioning time and again guarantees that you will find the right part.
When was the last time that you went in front of a room and auditioned? When was the last time you interviewed, pitched to investors, sang on stage or posted your personal blog?
Just remember: the people who are too afraid to audition never get to give the performance of a lifetime on stage.
If you’re ready to make a major career change, step into the spotlight and make the best-case scenario your reality, I’d love to spend a day with you. We’ll talk about your overcoming your blocks, finding your passion and creating a life that allows to you honestly say that you’re living the dream. Click here to learn more about my VIP Strategy Days.
As a speaker and author, Curtis Zimmerman has impacted over one million people with his life-changing messages and award-winning programs. Curtis is an expert at transforming organizations by inspiring individuals to live their lives at performance level.
Want to be inspired? Check out his podcast The Next 24 Hours.