• I don't know about you but I'm pretty tired of hearing about how you can "follow your dream" in three or four easy steps.  I've seen plenty of people leap before they sufficiently looked --and end up dissatisfied or broke, or both.  I've also had clients come to me after reading a hot, new book or attending a workshop.  And they still can't figure out what it is they want to do for a living.
    Of course not!  You can't think your way to a new career" or, at least you can't 99% of the time.
    The truth is that career change is no walk in the park.  It takes focus, a smart strategy and guts.

    Anyone can start their career change effort with vigor.  But keeping your fires burning for the duration of your journey is another story.  Given the roadblocks and the absence of any hard deadlines, it's just the kind of "priority" that can fall through the cracks of your busy life. 
    The key is to create an environment of accountability.  Here are four ways to do this:
    1.      Schedule your career change activities into your weekly calendar.  As Steven Covey would say, make it a "big rock" priority.   
    2.      Register for a class or workshop that keeps you engaged and focused for an extended period of time. 
    3.      Career change can't be done in a vacuum.  Work with a mentor or coach who has a good business head and market perspective. 
    4.      Know exactly what you hope to gain from your career change.  A clear and compelling personal benefit is your secret weapon to hanging in there for the duration of your journey.
    The old adage "look before you leap" is perfect advice for prospective career-changers.  Keep your day job and let your paycheck enable you to take all the time you need to discover new work options and test them out.  (Successful career-changers know that this is the essence of the career-change process!)  Once you are clear that a particular path is right for you" craft a good plan to get there.  At a minimum, your plan will include new training requirements and timing, building a new network, financial requirements, and a communications strategy for leaving your current employer.
    Successful career-changers know two things:  First, how critical the courage factor is to their ultimate success; and, second, that it's not possible to feel courageous 100% of the time.  By its very nature, the career-change journey is a wiggly road.   When your courage is on the wane, try these approaches:
    1. Don't confuse uncertainty with disaster.  Avoid the mental "drama" that takes you to the worst possible outcome.  These projections are not your present reality. 
    2. Focus on your gifts and talents.  Acknowledge yourself" deeply, and at the feeling level -- for the experience and skills you have gained.   Write them down as a reminder of your abundance. 
    3. Trust in Divine Presence.   As long as you continue to pursue your career change smartly, and take solid, active steps (i.e., do your part!), providence will support you as well.
    Finally, remember that we are indeed, a 'free agent' nation.  Safe, smart career change is possible and thousands of people just like you have successfully re-invented their working lives.  Without question, you can, too. 

    Patricia Soldati is a former President & COO of a national finance organization who re-invented her working life in 1999.  As a career fulfillment specialist, she helps corporate professionals enhance their working lives" both by staying within the organization" and by leaving it behind.   She is a certified coach (International Association of Coaches) and was recently selected to be a thought leader for a major workplace-related website.