For seven years, I commuted 90 miles a day to my job in a Fortune 200 company. It was a great company, with great co-workers, and a really great salary to boot.
There was just one problem. I was miserable. But with a mortgage and a car payment…well, you know how it is.
Then July 31, 1993 I got the worst news of my life. That’s the day my mother died unexpectedly of a heart attack. She was only 61 and just five months shy of her much-awaited retirement.
Losing my mom was a sorrowful reminder that life really is too short to put off our dreams.
A few months later I took another job at a smaller company with half the commute. Within days it was clear I’d made the career equivalent of changing deck chairs on the Titanic.
I didn’t need a new job—I needed a new life!
I no longer wanted to follow someone else’s schedule, to play by someone else’s rules, to work that hard to achieve someone else’s goals. At the time though I still didn’t know what I wanted to “be” when I grew up.
What I did have, was a pretty good idea of the kind of life I wanted to be live. I knew I wanted to work for myself, to work at home, to go to bed and wake up when I wanted, and to have the flexibility to work from a lakeside cottage in New Hampshire…or on a tropical island.
I spent two years looking into career transition and discovered that I wanted to help people do it. That’s when I established my service, Changing Course. I took small steps like getting business cards printed, asking a co-worker to design my logo, and getting the software I needed to set up my website. Since 1995, I’ve worked with people of all ages, helping them to create new incomes from what they love doing.
What about you?
Maybe you’re ready to totally take the leap from having a boss to being your own boss. Or, perhaps you’re semi-retired or otherwise are looking for a way to make extra money without a j-o-b.
Either way you need to figure out what it is you love to do and then find a way to make money doing it. Here are three tips to get you started:
1. Set aside the work part of the work-life equitation and begin your quest instead with the question: “What do I want my life to look like?” That way once you start to generate work ideas in step 3 you can make sure they pass the all-important life test.
2. Make three lists; one of your gifts (things you love to do), one of your interests (for example, you may not have a “gift” for politics, but you may have a keen interest in current affairs), and one of the skills you enjoy using. On this last list keep in mind that just because you do something well doesn’t mean you love it. (I’m pretty good at typing and mowing the lawn but I’m not interested in turning either into my livelihood.)
3. Aristotle said, “Where your talents and the needs of the world meet, lies your calling.” After all someone has to pay you for all those passions you just identified! To find where your talents align with your future customer or client’s needs, return to the three lists you created in step 2. Then next to each item answer the question, “Who wants what I have?”
Whether your dream is to open a B&B or become a freelance writer or run tours to Costa Rica in the winter and work in your cozy shop in the South of France in the summer…you really can do work that pays the bills and feeds your soul. You just need to begin.
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