Kay: How to pursue your dream, still get paid
What can you do when you hate your career but must support yourself and your family?
In the 27 years I have been writing about careers and helping people steer theirs, this question has popped up conservatively, 9,000 times.
It is at the core of just about every career issue. It is the epitome of the war that rages mercilessly in all of us: the desire to be happy vs. the desire for security.
Even if you don't know what you would rather be doing, the dilemma fumes.
It goes like this: “I hate what I do, but I can't quit and find what I want. I have to support myself!”
And if you have no career-related position now, it still wraps itself around every thought you have: “I can't try that. Or even that. What if doesn't work out? I have to support myself!”
What if I told you you can have it all, a way to be happy and secure?
First, a quick comment on security. Even with a job, you are never safe. A multitude of circumstances could be brewing or crop up without warning.
Then “security” can go poof.
But for the purpose of our discussion, let's define feeling secure as having a way to financially cover the basics.
Now, for how to be happy and secure — no matter which scenario fits you.
Step 1. Really, truly decide to be all in.
Say it. “I choose to go after a new career as an editor and proofreader.” “I choose to follow my dream to start my salsa verde burrito stand.”
We're not talking a sorta, maybe, kinda decision here.
Make your mind up. Resolve to do it.
Something magical happens when you are all in. You jump to the other side, the I-have-chosen side that propels you forward.
Before that, you were on the I-can't-do-this-because side that keeps you stuck.
Once you're all in, you have to have a to-do list.
This is exhilarating. You're doing what will move you toward this thing you want. How can you not feel happy?
Step 2. Map out a reasonable timetable based on what needs to happen first.
What do you need to do? If you need to beef up your experience as a proofreader to show that you're qualified, how many freelance assignments or freebies must you do?
How many evenings or weekends can you devote to get that done? What will it take? Do you need to take a class, talk to certain people, save money, buy equipment?
What will that take? Six months? A year?
Thinking this through helps you figure out a realistic time frame and see that you're moving toward something you want.
Wouldn't that make you happy?
It never fails. Whenever I'm working with people who do these steps, good things happen.
Suddenly, their day jobs are not so horrible. Relationships and projects improve because they themselves are different.
They are in higher spirits because they see they're working toward a different and better future.
Pie in the sky?
Not if you give up the obsession to arrive and that you must get there now. Not if you take the first step, then the next one that will move you onward.
Before you know it, you will be happier. You'll also see that the only security is inside yourself.
Write to Andrea Kay in care of USA Today/Gannett, 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, VA 22108. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.