If you’d love to get out of the rat race and create a work/life environment that meets both your economic and happiness requirements, start here.
1) Making a “living list” of things you LOVE doing. Add items as you discover or remember them. Don’t think about how to make money from these yet. Just make a list.
2) Do you know someone who is self-employed and/or a seasonal or contract worker? Contact that person and ask if you can pick their brain. What works? What doesn’t? What are the biggest challenges and biggest rewards?
3) Read a book about combining passions and livelihood. One good one is Po Bronson’s “What Should I Do with my Life?”
4) Take a skills assessment test online or via a career support book. Do the results make sense? That is, do you love doing what you are good at doing? Think about this – and go back to number one. What do you LOVE to do? Barbara Sher’s book “I Could Do Anything If I Knew What It Was” is great for this.
5) What was your favorite activity as a child? Go do it for an afternoon. Even if it’s the merry-go-round. Do you still love it? Why did you stop doing it? How could you do it now?
6) Have an “idea party.” Get ten friends together over a meal or coffee and ask them what they see you doing. Brainstorm on who would actually pay for such a product or service. Or, come up with your own idea, and ask the group to think of creative ways to accomplish it.
7) Take an afternoon, a day, or a week and go do something that interests you. It could be a class, or volunteering, or working alongside someone doing something you think might be your passion. How do you set this up? Call and ask.
8) Form a mastermind of people who also want to redesign their work/life relationship. Meet regularly for fellowship and inspiration. Or, see if you can join (or start) an existing group through a source like meetup.com.
9) Need additional education to follow your dream? Get started. Take one course – evenings, online, however you can get it. Just start now.
10) Be silly. Get a box of crayons and draw a picture of your dream life. I was once “forced” to do this as part of a seminar. Thought the leader was nuts. Two years later, I did just what I’d drawn.
11) Make a “dream” or “vision” board from magazine clippings, drawings, photos.
12) Read another book. I recommend “Making a Living without a Job” by Barbara Winter.
13) Subscribe to a magazine or periodical on your topic. Not necessarily about careers in that field, but just on topic. You’d be amazed at the wealth of publications out there on subjects that may seem obscure.
14) Start an “ideas” folder, and put articles or notes into it as a living reference file. This is especially helpful if you have many or varied interests.
15) Make a commitment to move this process forward at least once a week through a discussion, reading, taking a class, or other activity that adds to your knowledge and clarity of where you want to be.
The single most important thing you can do is start understanding just how many choices you really have to make your work fit your life. You don’t HAVE to be a slave to traditional work.
I’m not saying it’s a piece of cake. I’m saying you CAN do it.