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It never hurts to dream big!

It never hurts to dream big!

“Getting stuck in the wrong career is like a horror movie where I’ve been buried and no one can hear my screams!” ~ Barbara Sher

I’m not sure which is worse hating the job you’re in, (perhaps sneaking time at work to find another job), or looking for a job, any job, just as long as it pay the bills.

Even though many people are feeling the pinch of living in an economic recession, including the thousands who’ve been laid off, there are more people than you would think actually deciding to make career changes. Women, three-to-one, are starting their own business and both men and women are choosing careers that feel more rewarding, more meaningful or at least more in sync with who they really are.

Few people these days are hankering to break into the corporate sector for happiness or job security. More often they feel “happiness” promises are marketing ploys and “job security” is an oxymoron. When we meet they often ask, “Can you help people who don’t know what it is they want to be when they grow up?” or they say, “I’ve been working so hard at keeping this lousy job – even my coworkers constantly complain – I can’t think straight about what I would do if I were to be laid off.”

One of my favorite questions to ask my career-coaching clients who feel lost but dying to do something different is this: “If you received 40 million dollars (tax free) every 12 months, from now until your death, what would you do with your days? What would you do with your time just for fun?”

Another question I ask is this: “If you were told you have 12 hours to live and it was midnight, what would you regret never having done?”

Not everyone believes you can make a living doing what you love to do for others. For instance, the authors of Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life, Spencer Johnson and Kenneth Blanchard, beat to death their message of “following the cheese (money?)” – as a metaphor for being willing to go with the flow of your times, follow the trends of your current cultural moment if you want to make a living. They wrote, “You’ll be wondering who moved YOUR cheese if you don’t keep following the scent of potential profit. Mice know how to do this.”

Perhaps these Blanchard and Johnson were operating from a “rat race” mentality. If profit comes before people, you’re more likely to be awfully lonely, unsatisfied and stuck in a horror movie of sorts—what Buddhists call a karmic hell realm (born of the seeds you’ve sewn by greedy choices).

Today’s happier income generators seems to be more willing to create a livelihood based on what energizes them. As my stand-up comic friend says, “If it ain’t fun, I’m not going to be doing it for long.” This sentiment seems to be the case more often than not when people take or keep a job because it pays well or well-enough. Truth be told, they are slowly dying inside and their loved ones can feel it. Is the pay off worth it?

Can you imagine thinking of your work as fun? Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, Inc. claims: “If earning our living is what we spend most of our time doing, don’t you think it’s worth finding the kind of work that feeds your soul? Keep searching, it’s worth it.” I often share with my clients the discovery that I’ve made over and over: “Entrepreneurs are the true creators of security—especially if the measurement is satisfaction for work well done.”

Do not think you’ll be able to uncover your “calling” in no time – especially if your family members are freaking out about your depleted bank account(s). What’s required is a willingness to stay open and in action about gathering data and experience. Jumping right into the pool is not only a must, it’s a plus to keep you feeling the momentum that comes when you experiment with what works and what feels like work.

Making a transition doesn’t always move in smooth or linear ways. It can feel like e-Harmony or – there is rarely a “just right” feel right from the start. Just like Goldilocks, you might have to try a lot more porridge than you’d prefer in order to uncover what feeds you in a satisfying way.

For many of my clients, an exploration phase simply consists of gathering information, networking with Biznik events, looking at what successful entrepreneurs do to create their success, and seeing what you have to offer that continues to be interesting.

A good thing to remember is what my friend and mentor Barbara Winter says, “The business an entrepreneur starts with is rarely the one she or he finishes with.” As James, one of my clients in International Technological Sales, said,

“After working at Smith Barney in International accounts, I was afraid I’d never be able to keep up our family’s lifestyle if I shifted gears. When I started out, I wanted something less burdensome, I was tired of working from seven in the morning to eleven at night, being on call due to time differences, and worrying about getting woken up in the middle of the night and having to work the next day. I mean, I couldn’t even have breakfast with my family or walk the girls to the bus stop as my wife could do.

“I felt I was missing out on the very family I worked so hard to support; what was the point? So I started looking into exploring other possibilities. One of the places I had liked in the past was in Dubai.

Though I hated my work at the time, I loved the cultural diversity and how well my family was treated. I figure if I’m skillful in sales and international relations, there are hundreds of other ways I can put that to work in my own business. I’m just scared and I need someone to support and encourage me as I experiment.”

As James experience foreshadows, the experimental method of finding a better fit in work doesn’t necessarily entail guarantees or a nice orderly sequence of steps in which one side project leads logically to the next. Real work is involved when one wants to make a transition.

Calling up past acquaintances, interviewing happy entrepreneurs, attending events that interest you, putting yourself around people you admire and would love to work with, can be ways of supporting your experiments. But the trend is clear, small wins may be scattered, but what really matters is that they move in the same general direction—away from the stifling situation in which we find ourselves wanting to escape.

So much of the “right fit” is born of lots of little actions that can move you into more rewarding relationships (financially and emotionally). Just like finding a wonderful companion can happen out of the blue or by dating lots of toads — but certainly won’t be likely if you stay in your familiar comfort zone (rut).

As George Eliot tells us, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” Why not start inventing where you might feel greater happiness. It can start with a guess. What helps me is to do that which brings me aliveness, because I believe that’s what the world needs, don’t you?

Jennifer Manlowe, founder of Life Design Unlimited<</b, is a life direction counselor and certified publishing coach helping people step out to authorize their lives. Her books can be found at,

Learn more about the author, Jennifer Manlowe, PhD, CPC.