The following is an excerpt from What’s Next? Follow Your Passions and Find Your Dream Job by Kerry Hannon
Find a place to start. You don’t need a precise definition before you get going. Start by making a list of what you do know you want in the next phase of your career. If you are preoccupied with what you don’t want, make a list and restate them in positive terms. For example, if you are determined to stop working sixty hours a week, you might add “forty-hour work week” to your wish list.
Take steps. Don’t struggle to find an ideal starting point or perfect path. Once you have some picture of where you want to go, get things moving by taking small steps toward that vision. Your activity won’t be linear and you don’t need to plan out your steps in advance. What really matters is that you do a little something on a regular basis. Even if you just take one tiny step each week, at the end of a year you will have made some real progress toward change.
Don’t ruin your hobby. I love to garden. When I was thinking about what to do next I thought about being a landscape designer. But I quickly realized that I’d get lonely in the garden all day—I much prefer working with people. Gardening is a great hobby and escape from work, but it wouldn’t be the right career move for me. Make sure you think hard about how your passion will become a new career.
Stop your inner enemy. If you have a negative refrain that goes through your head and sabotages your efforts to make a change—“I’m too old to do that”—make note of it. Write that thought down in a notebook and reframe it with a positive thought, such as, “I have these specific skills, and I’m going to use them in a new career.” You need to get rid of that old blocking message to move forward with your dreams.
Ask the basic questions. Does your second act fit your lifestyle? Can you afford it? What does your partner think? Ask yourself how a certain career will work with your social patterns, your spending habits, and your family situation. It will help you to dig deeper and get a clearer picture of what you truly want in your life and your options to get there.
Start a journal. Journaling is a great way to map your new career direction. Make lists: the best times in your life, the things you really like, the experiences you’ve enjoyed, what you’ve excelled at, the best moments in your current career. These lists will help you hone in on your passion and visualize yourself harnessing it to pursue something new and exciting.
Get a business card. Want to be an artist but still working as a lawyer? Get an artist’s card. As soon as you have a card, it makes the career real. You can get your second-act card long before you finish your first act. I immediately got cards that said counselor, consultant, and coach—simply because I couldn’t bear the thought of going to a party without a business card. I passed them out, and by the end of the evening, I was a coach. Printing your new information on a card can be transformative.