Are you following your dream, or drifting into a nightmare?

Because there’s a big difference!

The first scenario – following your dream – happens once you’ve identified what it is that you would really love to be doing for a living, and have put some thought into how you might make that a reality (often with the help of a coach to get you through the anxious moments along the way).

The second scenario – running into a nightmare – is something that can happen when you have put no thought into what you would really love to be doing, but you don’t care because you just want to get away from your current job and will take the leap regardless.

I had a coaching client recently who was dissatisfied with her job – essentially feeling underutilised and bored. She said she would like to start her own business.

Well, yes, I could certainly help her with that. “What business would you like to start?” I asked.

“Oh, I don’t know,” she said. “Any business. I haven’t really thought about what ..."

Unfortunately, as Pamela Slim famously said, hating your job is not a business plan!

Don’t get me wrong – I love nothing more than working to help clients make the leap from employment to starting their own business. In fact, that’s what most people come to see me for. But they need to be ready, and they need to be doing it for the right reasons.

As I pointed out to this particular client, when and if you do make a move to go out on your own, you’ll need to be sure you know why you want to be in business. Because you’ll need an answer for your significant others when they ask why they never get time with you, and why you can’t afford what you used to, and why you’re always busy or tired.

And you’ll need an answer for yourself that makes you believe it is all worth it when you are lying awake at 3am worried sick to the stomach about what might happen if you don’t actually get any clients or customers.

I know from experience and helping clients through the transition that these fears and pressures can be overcome and ultimately lead to a much more fulfilling life, but it would be disingenuous to let clients think it is an easy transition to make.

What I’ve found is that people are often able to identify the reasons why they are dissatisfied with their current career and are clear about what they don’t want, but they find it a lot harder to identify and articulate what they do want. But it is only when they have that clarity (and embrace the fear that goes with it) that they are able to make a living doing what truly fulfills them.

The opportunity

If you are dissatisfied with your current job or career, get a career coach to help you clarify what you would really rather be doing. You will be coming from a much more powerful position to manage the transition if you are focused on what you are moving towards rather than what you are moving away from. Pursue what you love, and do it well. Or, as Maya Angelou said:

Pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well people can’t take their eyes off you”.

Lucy Sanderson-Gammon, MBA, is a career development coach, trainer and consultant. She helps mid-career professionals who have fallen out of love with their jobs to find work that is meaningful to them – at a time in life when they have more choices open to them than ever before. Find out more about Lucy's coaching services here.