I know a woman who had the idea to quit her banking career to buy five acres of land in New Mexico to start an herb and vegetable farm. It was her thought to supply all of the local restaurants and natural food markets with produce. She was also going to make natural soaps and lotions from the herbal extracts.

I will admit, that in theory it sounds like a fine idea; to work the land and all that and to make skin-care concoctions and lip-balms. It turned out to be her nightmare. She completely misjudged the amount of work it took to farm, the amount of work to sell and market, plus the mountains of paperwork.

In talking with her, I would learn she consulted with no one about her idea, she received no information, never went to as much as an agricultural extension course. Not to be mean, but she was a “know-it-all” banker who was a part-time, weekend gardener. To her credit, she lasted about a year-and-a-half. She hated every minute of her decision. She sold the farm, went back to banking and is now looking for something else to do. This time, she wants to do it right.

Good for her!

It is so easy to poke fun at someone who would head off and try to follow a fantasy – and don’t get me wrong, she went about it in the worst possible way, but she had a wonderful learning experience. She tried something and it didn’t work out. It does not make her a failure; her fantasy failed her, but she is not a failure.

When I wrote Designing Your Ideal Life, I did so with the intention of helping people like the banker above; trust me, my book is a lot cheaper than buying a farm!

Rather than hitching all of your hopes to a fantasy, my book is designed as a step by step program to help you navigate the difference between a fantasy and a career change. Because you like the idea of plucking dandelions from your garden, does not mean you can go out and cultivate acreage; because you love your neighbor’s cute puppy, does not make you a veterinarian.

My first piece of advice is to smash the fantasy. Envision how you want your life to be by answering much larger questions than where to buy squash seeds or what color tile you would like in the waiting area of your lucrative small animal practice.

Start with the premise that you know nothing. It’s a great place to start. Want to start a duck farm? Find someone who has a duck farm! Work for the duck farmer; collect eggs at sunrise and clean out the duck pens. Ask questions about a duck farmer’s day-to-day life.

Do you want to become a paralegal? Then by all means go to work in a lawyer’s office or at least talk to several lawyers and paralegals about the profession. Learn about the coursework, the pay-scales and the good and bad points.

If, and only if, you have done your due-diligence insofar as any profession that might interest you, then you can proceed to understand the systematic steps you need to take to design a career in that profession that is right for you.

I did know a man who became a successful physician. He started his career by delivering (as a volunteer) books and magazines to the rooms of patients. It is wonderful to start out humbly.

It is so easy to “jump” at any fantasy – after all, that is what fantasies are all about. I would urge you not to do it. Study, learn, observe and if you can, participate. Want to be a veterinarian? Volunteer at a local animal shelter or work for a veterinarian part-time in the evenings or on weekends. Want to be a paralegal? Perhaps you can find a volunteer position in a legal aid society or you can visit courtrooms. Try to immerse yourself in that world. Learn what is boring as well as exciting; tedious as well as thrilling.

When you are satisfied your fantasy is for real, then feel free to “design.”

 

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