In order to make change in your life, you need to start by setting goals. Once you decide on a goal, you need to devise small steps to take you there. For example, you’ve decided to go back to school. First, ask yourself why you want to return to school. Is it to get a promotion at work, or change jobs, or find a completely new career? Or maybe you want to learn a new hobby or just have fun on your time off. Once you determine your purpose for returning to school, you will have a better idea of what your exact goal will be and how to accomplish it.
Let’s say you want to change careers. Initially, you may find the thought completely overwhelming or doubt your ability to accomplish it. That’s where creating small steps comes in handy. You may need to get a college degree, or an advanced degree, or you may be able to enter your new field with a certification, or specific job training.
The first place to start is by doing some research into your new field. Look online, or go to the library, to find out what requirements are needed to get into your new line of work. If you know anyone working in that field, contact them and ask them some questions about the job. Maybe ask to meet them after work, or treat them to lunch, so they don’t have to use work time to talk to you. This is also a good way to find out if their company is looking for trainees or interns, which would be a foot in the door to your new job.
Another good resource is the local community college. Most colleges have a career advisor available to talk to potential students. Even if you don’t intend to take classes there, the advisor will be happy to tell you about various careers. Often, they can give you aptitude tests to take as well which can help you decide what direction to go in.
What if you find out you need to get a particular degree, but you’re not sure if you’ll like the field enough to put that much time into it? A good way to determine that is to contact a local company or organization and ask if you can volunteer there for a short time to see if you would like the environment and type of work. This typically works better if you contact a non-profit organization since they can always use volunteers. You may not have this option if you are planning on working for a profit-oriented company. In that case, you’re better off contacting individuals already working in the field, or students, particularly those who are at the school you’re interested in attending. Some schools will allow visitors to observe a class so that would also be an option for you if you’re interested in seeing how the subject is presented in the classroom. Then you could talk to the students to get their take on what they think of the field they’re studying.
If you are currently working, look for educational programs which are designed for working students. Many schools now offer programs at night, on the weekends, online, and/or a mixture of all three. They often have satellite classrooms, which are located away from the main campus, and are typically in an office space in a business district.
Additionally, if the degree you need will lead to licensing, contact the licensing agency or organization in your state for referrals to schools that are approved in your state.
Once you start investigating possible schools to attend, your next step will be to find out about tuition, and educational grants, scholarships, and loans available.
The most important thing to remember is that in order to achieve your goal, you need to design it so that it is feasible. If you make it too difficult for yourself to achieve your goal, it’s going to be hard to convince yourself to keep going when you have moments of doubt. However, if you design a path to your goal which is doable with your lifestyle, it will be easier to hang in there even when you’re having doubts.
Remember – In order to achieve a goal, you have to envision it first!