As we close the books on 2014, it’s natural to reflect on the past year, and to look ahead, assessing the direction you’re taking in your life. Sometimes this process will cause you to wish for something different, and contemplate a life change. Whether you’re thinking of hanging up your suit and going to culinary school, going back to work after being COO of the household, or moving to a different country, here are four questions to ask before you make the leap.
1. What’s driving the need for change?
Major life shifts shouldn’t be precipitated by major drama or boredom. Before you leap, take a little time to consider what’s driving you. Regardless of whether this shake-up will drastically impact your finances, it’s important to consider your motives. I know this from experience. I literally moved to an island for a year because I wanted to get out of a rut. As I look back on the experience, it would have been a lot more fun if I had dealt with the personal baggage before getting on the plane. No matter where you go, there you’ll be. Money, travel, independence — none of it will feel as good if you’re not being yourself.
2. Will I be happy when I get there?
It’s never just about the money. Often, we equate our net worth to our self-worth, or have another version of tangible success that we believe will make us feel as though we’ve “arrived.” If you find yourself speaking in the conditional, i.e., “If I just got this job, I could afford to life in a nice place and then I would be happier,” look closer. While there is sometimes a fine line between contentment and complacency, there’s an even finer line between ambition and grasping. Focus more on what makes you happy, and try to articulate goals that are based on happiness and security, not just cultural symbols of success.
3. What’s in my way?
Ever heard the phrase, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way?” Well, it’s true when it comes to a life overhaul as well. Identify stumbling blocks not to dwell on them, but to understand how you can work through them to accomplish your dream. Bring the challenges with you when you make your financial plan, and talk with your financial planner about how you can overcome them. Sometimes an objective third party holds the key to understanding how roadblocks can work for you, not against you.
4. How do I get there?
Financial plans are dynamic instruments that you can use to guide you through a period of change. Start by brainstorming your goals and thinking about where you’d like to be. Then devise a financial plan that will take you there.
Dreaming of becoming the next Hemingway while you plug away at your office job? The answer may not be an extreme life change. If you need to make ends meet while you’re shifting gears, think about taking a part-time gig that pays the bills while you regroup. Many of my clients have had long, windy paths to get to where they are today, and certainly didn’t adore every job they had. So whether it’s taking on a client you find a bit grating, doing away with trips to Whole Foods, or no longer going out to dinner on a regular basis, you can create more opportunities for yourself by finding ways to fund your path, even while you’re “in between.”
Making a life leap isn’t as scary once you’ve got a great plan in place. Start brainstorming today, and by the time you ring in the next New Year, you could have an entirely different view!
Emily Boothroyd is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.