Almost every day, I receive emails from readers with questions and I love them! (Although I’ll admit sometimes I’m very slow at responding—apologies if you’re waiting to hear from me!)
The best part of the emails is reading all your stories; time after time, I’m reminded that although we take different paths in life, we’re really so much more alike than we are different. More than anything, most of the people I meet simply want to live their lives to the fullest and to make the very most of this wonderful world we live in—and I truly believe this is a wonderful world we live in! ✨
Here’s one email I received recently (shared with permission):
I love your blog and want to follow your advice to live a simple fierce life!! I would love to travel, create, and enjoy the amazing things this world has to offer!! I was wondering, like you I have been a shopaholic, divorced, moved back to Georgia and teach high school but I am ready to live my life the way I’m supposed to. Where did you start? I have to pay my shopping debt off, but currently only make enough to make ends meet. How do I also go about finding another career option? I have been working on my art (photography) and getting contacts in the art world, practicing yoga again, and running. I know I’m on the right path, but need guidance on how to get where I need to be. I would like to finish the school year and in May change my career. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for the inspiration!!!
Stephanie’s email really spoke to me because I recognised so much of myself in her story—and it’s something I’ve heard from many of you, time and time again: you’ve made the decision to change your life, but you’re struggling to find your next steps.
Here was my response:
(Note this includes a few small edits from my original email to Stephanie, but it’s mostly intact.)
Thank you so much for your email and your questions! They really got me thinking about my life, my choices, and how I got to where I am today.
As with anything in life, what worked for me might not necessarily be the best for you, but when I reflect on the steps I took to change my life, these are things that stood out the most—hopefully you find some inspiration in my experience.
1. GET REALLY CLEAR ON WHAT YOU WANT YOUR LIFE TO LOOK LIKE
This doesn’t mean you need to have all the details figured out or that you need to know what your new career will be, but take some time to picture what your ideal day-to-day life will look like.
- What’s your ideal morning routine?
- When will you work?
- Will you work with people – or alone?
- Do you want a structured routine – or flexibility?
- How will you spend your free time?
Of course, you might never have everything you want in your ‘ideal’ life but knowing what you want most will help you find your direction (and will also make it easier to make decisions).
(Need help with this? Try one of these 4 Creative Exercises to Inspire Intentional Living or consider these 7 Questions to Inspire Intentional Living.)
2. MINIMALISE + REDUCE YOUR COST OF LIVING
You’ve probably noticed I don’t often talk about money on my blog, but obviously, it’s a big, unavoidable part of life and it goes hand in hand with minimalism! From your message, it sounds like you’re no longer a shopaholic and that’s great (so freeing, right?!).
The next big step is to start to question the other expenses in your life and to challenge what you see as normal.
For example, I used to own a 2 bedroom home but for the past few years, I’ve lived in studio apartments (marketed to students but open to the general public). Not long ago, I would never have considered living in such a small place, but I gave it a try and the truth is I genuinely love it.
Since downsizing 80% of my belongings, it’s more than enough space—and the money I save has been enough to help pay off all my debt and to fund my round the world travels!
I completely understand this might not work for you, but the point is to think outside the box and question everything. Keep your focus on the big picture and remember it’s not about giving things up; instead, it’s about choosing the life you want most.
Alternatively, you can look at finding a side hustle to make extra money on the side—which isn’t a bad idea—but I personally found it easier to start with reducing my cost of living.
(By the way, if you struggle to kerb your shopping, this post is a must read.)
3. CREATE SPACE IN YOUR SCHEDULE
I truly believe one of the biggest hurdles most people face when trying to change their lives is simply not having enough time to try new thing.
I’m not sure if being busy is a problem for you or not, but if it is I highly encourage you to review and ‘declutter’ your schedule. Again, keep your big picture in mind and audit how you spend your time—if anything you’re doing doesn’t fit in with your big picture dreams, look for ways to let go.
4. FINALLY, EXPERIMENT—A LOT!
So back to your main question—how do you find a new career path—my best advice is to experiment a lot.
This is SO very important but too often in life, we feel like we can’t experiment because we’re too tied down with financial and time commitments (hence steps 2 and 3!).
What we need is space to try new things and to meet new people. I truly believe there are so many amazing career options out there that neither of us even know to exist because the world is simply changing too fast. (I read an article the other day about people who make a living giving Pinterest advice—certainly not something I would have thought possible a few years ago but it’s real!)
So learn new things. Talk to people in different careers. Take risks.
And again,question what you think is normal. You mentioned wanting to start a new career in May and that’s great! But also keep in mind there might be other options—maybe you continue to work part-time or substitute teach why you experiment with other passions? I think the world of work is changing and your new career might be more diversified, maybe a mix of the old with something new.
For me personally, it took me about 18 months to pay off all my debt. It wasn’t always easy to be patient because I was in a hurry to start my ‘new’ life but while I waited, I started making small, daily changes to how I lived my life.
Sounds like you’re already doing this with your yoga, running, etc.—and don’t underestimate how important this is! Sometimes it’s easy to focus on big changes but at the end of the day, it’s what we do every day that really defines our lives.
As for my ‘experiment’, my biggest one was starting this blog. I’ve blogged in some format (on and off) for over a decade but when I stopped working full-time (by choice, something I was able to do because I had reduced my cost of living) I decided to take a chance and see what might happen if I really committed myself to my
It was (and is!) a lot of work and I’m just starting to make a very small income from it, but because I simplified my life I have the freedom to grow and learn.
I’ve made a ton of other small changes and I still don’t have any idea what the future will hold for me, but when I reflect on my life and how far I’ve come, I realise just how much has changed.
So to sum up my very long answer, I think the most important things are to question what is normal, to create freedom in your life, and then to take your time exploring and building a new career. It might feel like taking a step backwards, but ultimately I think it’s worth it to build an intentional life built around the things that matter most to you.
If you have a question please feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org)—I’d love to hear from you!
How have you changed your life? What are your tips or advice
10 thoughts on “Where to Start When It’s Time For a Change [Reader Question]”
For me reducing our cost of living was an important start to changing our lives. It wasn’t necessarily our choice at first but we quickly realised we could cut a lot of costs. We didn’t realise how good we had it until we lost it. Now that my husband has gotten more regular work we have kept those costs down so that I can work less and be at home more with the kids. We rarely miss the things we gave up, but we are definitely glad I don’t have to work as much as I used to 🙂
That’s such a great story, I love how you turned what sounds like a difficult situation around and made a positive change in the end 🙂 Having a lower cost of living is definitely so freeing – I choose to work less too and it’s such a joy!
Love the quote ‘It’s not about giving things up, it’s about choosing the life you want the most!’ I wholeheartedly agree with that statement, very well said!
Thanks Zara! All the best for the new year 🙂
I found this post right when I needed it. I just love your entire blog. It’s like grabbing a self help book but quickly getting to what I need and the information to get me there. So happy I came across you!
Thank you so much for your kind words Priscilla! Your comment definitely made my day 🙂 Thanks for reading! x
Great post Jennifer! 🙂
Thanks Mackenzie! xx
This is great advice. I followed a very similar path. My life was really not working out, I was a frazzled wreck. I wanted more but had nothing to give. I totally ran out of puff. I asked myself, what do I want and I had a fairly good idea of the type of balance of elements I wanted in my life. We’d already minimised our expenses as I been on maternity leave fairly recently. I cut back my paid work to virtually nil and got on with experimenting. I gave several volunteer roles a go, some were a disaster, others were great. I built up skills in the area I wanted to work in, without compromising the other aspects of my life. Two years later, I now have all the paid work I want in my new field. Some times I have to pinch myself – my dream life, I live it.
I write about it at http://www.moretimethanmoney.co.nz.
Hi Amy! Thanks for sharing your story – it’s so inspiring 🙂 I just had a look and I love your blog – especially the post about food waste. Cheers Jen