It’s been about two years since I took my first big leap of quitting a job that wasn’t right for me. I’ve made other big changes since then, and each change has had its own challenges. From experience and talking with others, there are four ways to make a change in your life when you’re making a career or other big lifestyle change.
I wasn’t the type to quit without having a plan. Personalities who thrive on change likely leap without a second thought, but that wasn’t me.
This post is written for those of you who find the idea of making a big change in your life as scary.
Scary enough that you may try or have tried to cope with the status quo to the point of misery. To where the change seems so overwhelming and paralyzing that you don’t know how to begin.
I know what it was like because I’ve been there; I didn’t want to make a change. In some minor ways today, I still prefer not to change unless I really need to. But back in 2014, I needed to leap for my own sake.
Find out below which one of the four ways to make a change in your life works best for you:
I myself have chosen multiple ways at different times. There is no “right” way — it really depends on which option will work best for you at the current moment in time.
1) Save up and leap
With this approach, you’re saving up a cushion (or in my case, a sabbatical) fund for when you leap. You may know what it is you’re doing after you leap, or you may be leaping to figure it out. Perhaps you’re quitting your job to start your own freelance or entrepreneurial venture. Or maybe you’re moving to live abroad and travel for a period of time.
In any case, you’re saving an amount of money for a certain length of runway to cover living expenses and any travel or extras you may want. In my case, I saved up for a six-month sabbatical back in 2014 without any idea what I was going to do afterwards.
- Saving up funds allows you more flexibility for when you leap.
- You can plan for fun travels and extra cushion if you’re able.
- It gives you time to adjust and plan for the upcoming change.
- It can take a while to save up the amount of money you’d ideally like to have.
- If your current conditions are near unbearable, this may not be the best thing for you.
Things to consider
- If you feel the need to take break to reset and assess what’s next over a longer period of time, this may be the best option for you.
- If you’re flexible on how long you have to save up, opt for more cushion if you’re able. It’s nice to have more flexibility or time, especially for when life throws you a few unexpected turns.
- At the same time, choose a date for your change and stick to it. Sometimes we can get so preoccupied with the timing needing to be exactly right that we keep on postponing what we want to do.
- Here are other more detailed considerations I considered prior to taking the leap.
2) Build up on the side
For those of you who know what change you’d like to make, perhaps there’s an opportunity to build it up on the side. I’ve heard several thought leaders and entrepreneurs suggesting this as a recommended way to transition towards a change. Examples include building up a blog or business on the side or building up freelance clients before making the switch to full-time.
It makes a lot of sense if you have the energy and time to lay the groundwork for what you want to do next. It makes the transition easier, and you’re able to experiment while still having one foot planted where you are.
But depending on your situation, sometimes it’s simply not possible. That was the case for me back in 2014; I was simply too exhausted and mired in my current environment to have the bandwidth to build something on the side. But in 2015, I opted to continue building up Uncoveries on the side while working part-time, and this year, I’m helping my husband build his brand while working full-time.
- You have the stability of your current situation while you work on building up to the change you want.
- You can take your time to build up to the level you need before taking the leap.
- You’re more insulated from things taking longer than planned or not working out, and you may have more funds available to invest into the build.
- It can be exhausting to keep the status quo running while building a new thing on the side.
- You’ll have less time than you’d like to dedicate to the build.
- Because you’re still in the old environment, creativity and flexibility of options may be limited.
Things to consider
- This is likely the best option if you have an idea of what you want to build but want to test it out before leaping, or if you want to build up a side hustle more slowly while being able to pay the bills.
- If you feel overwhelmed with your current situation, this is likely not the best option for you.
- Because you have more limited time and energy, it may take longer to build up to the level you’d like. But it’s a great way to start if it works for you, and you can always leap earlier if you want.
3) Swap it out
If you know what change you’d like to make and want to dedicate all of your energy toward it, then this could be the best option. You swap what’s no longer working for the desired change as soon as possible. This could play out in many ways, such as going to graduate school, interviewing and accepting another job, or quitting your job to start a business.
In my case, I swapped out contract work for freelancing for a period of time during the past couple years. When my husband also quit his job to freelance, it got a little challenging—but it was an adventure that we learned a great deal from.
- You’re switching from the old to the new, so you’re able to make faster progress on the change you want in your life.
- You can fully dedicate your focus on the new when you swap it out for the old.
- It can feel like you’re all in, and this may be a little scary for some people. Doubts can set in during tough challenges or setbacks.
- Going immediately from one thing to another results in less stability, which may be important for some people. The fear of failure can be greater when you go immediately from one thing to the next.
- There may be more financial risk with swapping it out than the previous two options. Some people choose to take out a loan to be able to fund their new adventure, others use personal credit, or maybe take out money from retirement savings. Either way, it’s smart to fully weigh the present and future financial implications.
Things to consider
- With this option, my personal opinion is to carefully consider any debt or financial risk you’ll be taking on. Estimate out the amount of expense, the interest rate, payments and payoff time period so you can make an educated decision.
- It’s great if you already have some savings to act as a cushion in case you need it, but my personal preference is to only use it as a last resort.
- Perhaps there are ways to crowdfund, get scholarships, or get resources at a cheaper rate. By being resourceful, you can reduce any financial challenges that may be involved in this option.
4) Leap and figure it out
Last of all, there’s the option to leap and figure it out as you go. This option is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Of all the ways to make a change in your life, this may be the scariest. But sometimes you gotta do what you need to do. And if that’s leaping with little to no planning—out of excitement, desperation, lack of any other option, love, or whatever it may be… then so be it.
If what’s at the core of your being is telling you to just do it, then perhaps it’s the right choice for you at this time. In a way, choosing to launch Uncoveries towards the end of my sabbatical was a leap-and-figure-it-out moment for me. My husband and I deciding to both give freelancing a try while also taking the opportunity to travel together—that was something we decided to do and figure out later. In both cases, it was a learning and growing experience that shaped us for the better.
Even when it doesn’t work out, you learn from it. So while leaping and figuring it out as you go may not be the most financially wise or rational decision, perhaps it’s what you need in order to learn or experience what you need.
- The openness allows for more creativity, possibility, learning and growth.
- You may be more willing to try things you never would’ve tried otherwise. These can be defining and transformational experiences of a lifetime.
- This option often feels the scariest, and can often lead to very personally and emotionally challenging times.
- There is usually more uncertainty, fear, and financial risk associated with this way.
- Because there may be little to no savings or funds, there may be limited resources that are available when you need it.
- When you leap and figure it out along the way, there’s the possibility that it may not work out.
Things to consider
- Don’t get caught up in practicality if you feel deep down it’s what you need to do. At the same time, if you find yourself leaping and figuring it out every month, perhaps there needs to be a little more restraint. There is a balance that can really only be determined by you.
- During tough times, remember that there’s really no failure or success when you think about life on this earth. It’s up to you to define what success is to you.
As I look back on my journey thus far, I’ve implemented change in my life in each of the four ways. It’s worth repeating that there’s no right way; it’s all about what will work best for you based on your current path. Which one of the ways to make a change in your life resonates the most with you right now? What has been your experience?