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Wanting More: Best Resources for Making Life Changes
There’s a scene in Disney’s The Little Mermaid in which the mermaid Ariel is going through her collection of human things. Although she thinks they’re “neat” and “great,” she says, “But who cares? No big deal. I want more.”
“But who cares? No big deal. I want more.”
Many of us often feel that we want something more, or different in our lives. These moments of realization can be both exciting and discouraging. So, we want to do something different. What exactly is that “something,” and how do we get there?
These are also moments of choice. Do you stay stuck, feeling discouraged and at a loss about how to make a change? Or do you press forward into the scary unknown and see where it takes you?
Sometimes, there may be reasons why you can’t make a change right now. You can continue to make plans, but for now, you must make the best of things. Just be sure you’re not confusing reasons with excuses.
If you do decide to take that step onto a new path, you don’t have to go unprepared. As someone who has followed many different paths in life, these are some of my favorite resources for finding new directions.
1. Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It
I’ve changed jobs many times, and it’s usually been a move into a different type of position than what I’ve done previously. I always thought this meant starting over at the bottom, and proving to my new employer that I could do the work and take on more responsibility.
Opportunities to do this sort of thing are becoming harder to find in this job market. Highly skilled people are competing for even entry-level jobs. Also, as you get older, the prospect of starting all over again can be daunting enough to keep you stuck in a familiar, but unfulfilling position.
In her book Stand Out, Dorie Clark offers insightful advice about how to make yourself and your “brand” really unique. Anyone who reads this book and works through the exercises will come out with different, but powerful personalized results. This is a great way to stand out from the competition in those tough-to-get jobs.
But Dorie also points out that you don’t have to start at the bottom and prove yourself if you’re taking your career in a different direction. Your existing skill set can be valuable in a new role, and you should market it that way. As she explains:
“When you integrate multiple skills, experiences, and identities, you no longer fit into neat categories. You’re not moonlighting in another discipline, you’re seeing the world differently because it’s not through one lens.”
Your skills and background are great assets! You’re not a fraud if you’re trying to do something different from what you’ve done before. You’re bringing your unique skills and experience, and will use them to shape the position as you continue to learn and grow.
2. Pivot: The Only Move that Matters is Your Next One
I first learned about the book Pivot when I heard a podcast interview with the author, Jenny Blake. It was at a time when I was searching for my own next step in life.
I was discouraged by every choice I considered, because it felt like I was abandoning all of my previous hard work and learning. Listening to the podcast, it was as though Jenny was speaking directly to my situation. She explained that you don’t have to abandon your past to take your next step.
In fact, you should examine your past, and build on it. Find your greatest strengths. Consider what you’re good at, and enjoy doing. Then it’s time to consider what your next step should be. She makes it logical and methodical to work through this process.
Your life changing decisions don’t have to be giant leaps into the unknown. They can be carefully planned direction changes, or pivots.
As you’re considering your next steps, you may find that there are some gaps in your skill set. Additional training could help fill those holes. Before jumping directly to, “I guess I have to go back to school,” consider some alternatives to traditional education.
1. Community and Continuing Ed Classes
There are many great things about community ed courses. You don’t have to be accepted into any school or college to enroll. They’re affordable, and scheduled at convenient times for working adults to attend. Class sizes are often small, and the context can be fairly informal. This allows the instructor to adapt the material to the interests of the students.
I’ve taken lots of courses like this, and have learned something of value in each one. Search your local community colleges for programs.
2. Certificate Programs
Definitely a bigger commitment of time and money, earning a certificate in a relevant topic can help help fill out your resume. Be sure to shop around. Courses can be quite different in terms of cost and content. More expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better classes. Many certificate programs offer online versions, too.
Talk with people. Sharing your goals and ideas can be scary, but it also helps to make them real. You’ve talked about doing it, now you have to go through with it. Talking through your ideas will also help you formulate your plans.
Just be careful with sharing your dreams. If you talk to someone who is not supportive, choose other topics for future conversations. Change and growth are hard enough without someone else bringing you down.
If your friends and family are not supportive, try to find people who are more understanding. If you’re taking a course, other students in the class may be a good support network. In this digital age, you may also find a relevant Facebook Group. You can also search for Meet-Up groups in your area where you may be able to connect with like minded people.
This is important. Making life changes is hard. If people close to you aren’t supportive, it’s even harder. Though you may think you can take it, or believe, “I’ll show them,” just one negative comment from a friend can gnaw at your brain for days. It takes your focus off where it should be. Find others who will build you up, and whom you can support in return.
These days, we’re living longer, seeing more of the world, and realizing maybe there’s more out there for us. If you’re thinking, “I want more,” you can start taking steps to follow your dreams.
If it all still seems overwhelming, check out our Five Expert Tips for Setting and Achieving Meaningful Goals. With help from the right resources, and enough courage, you can do this.
“There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, ‘Yes, I’ve got dreams, of course, I’ve got dreams.’ Then they put the box away and bring it out once in a while to look in it, and yep, they’re still there. These are great dreams, but they never even get out of the box. It takes an uncommon amount of guts to put your dreams on the line, to hold them up, and say ‘How good or how bad am I?’ That’s when courage comes in.” ~ Erma Bombeck