Over the course of the next year, reduce your need for money or save enough so that you can afford to take a risk and invest in yourself. Here are some of the choices that people can make to buy themselves the freedom to try a new career direction:

  • Simplify! Simplify! Take a careful look at your current expenses and see what you can slash. Two cars in the family? Think about getting along with one. A big dry-cleaning bill? Perhaps you can hand wash those items of clothing. Turn the heat down. Buy food in bulk. Get along with the clothes you’ve got.
  • Learn to distinguish between a “need” and a “want.” You need housing, food, utilities. You only want dinners out, cable TV, two phone lines, or a fitness club membership. Most “wants” can either be eliminated or accomplished at a lower cost.
  • Is a large chunk of your paycheck going to credit card debt? Contact a consumer credit counseling services to get into a program that reduces your overall debt, then helps you pay down the remainder. (See your Yellow Pages for a service near you.)
  • Invest in yourself first. Arrange to have part of your paycheck automatically deposited in a special savings account earmarked to finance your job change. Pretend that account doesn’t exist. Make yourself manage on the remainder.
  • Take on extra work now to finance your career change “nest egg.” Consider a Saturday job or something you can do at home. Put these “extra” earnings in your special account. Enlist your spouse or partner in the project. Your change in career should benefit the whole family. Perhaps you can both build that savings account through extra hours or second jobs.
  • Do you have teens? Enlist them in the family project of making it possible for their parents to find better work. If it won’t jeopardize their schoolwork, see if they can assume some of the responsibility for buying clothes and paying for entertainment and lessons.
  • Position yourself for your new work. Is there a way you can do volunteer work in your chosen field? If so, you can get some valuable experience that may help you land your new job much more quickly.

Do you need more ideas? Fortunately, there are a number of good books that can help you figure out the job you want and steps toward getting it. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it will get you started:

  • A classic is What Color is Your Parachute? 2007 ( by Richard Nelson Bolles). Complete with a workbook, this manual has been very helpful to millions of people over the past 30 years.
  • Kate Wendleton founded an organization called “The Five O’Clock Club” to help people come together for mutual support in finding new work. Her book, Targeting the Job You Want (3rd edition published in January 2000 by Career Press), is full of exercises, anecdotes, and assignments to help you set goals and take steps to meet them.
  • I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It (1995, Bantam Doubleday Dell), by Barbara Sher, is a no-nonsense, no-excuses guide to figuring out what you want and taking steps to get there.