I go through it often, usually every year around my birthday. Each August I want to do something drastic and that usually involves my hair. I dye it a different color, cut it short, get bangs-all because I get that itchy craving feeling for change. I’ve learned that about myself and although I still might go to the salon, I recognize the pattern and this year opted for a blowout instead. Sometimes, impulsive change can be the best kind. No need to overthink it, go with your gut and see what happens-for me, it usually works out quite well. There is a French saying, “On s’engage et puis on voit” which translates to “One jumps into the fray and figures it out”. This idea is sexy, exciting and inspiring and definitely has it’s place.

There is also informed change. Weighing the options, possibly making a list of pros and cons, consulting with friends or family and then the final decision. Both have their benefits and their drawbacks.  It also doesn’t help when you never know which type you’ll have to go with in any given situation which can make it all the harder.

I’ve reinvented myself a number of times, we all have. It’s called life and it’s the change that comes with growing up and learning about yourself. There’s reinvention that evolves over time; change that occurs due to the tiny decisions made everyday that add up to the person you are a year from now. There’s also conscious reinvention, the kind of choice you make when you go ahead and get that haircut, move to a new city or change careers.

Currently, I’m in the stage of change where I’m reinventing my career. I left my secure position at a prestigious corporation in search of something more meaningful and more aligned with my strengths and my skillset. It hasn’t been an easy reinvention at all. However, most good things come from rising out of your comfort zone and taking a risk. Even though the rejection emails keep coming in, I have to be aware that I will get an email that says yes and then it will all have been worth it.

During this process I’ve come up with a few questions that need to be answered (preferably before) when you’ve decided to make a change. It can help steer you in the direction you want to go in, even if you aren’t entirely sure which direction that is.

What do I want to do next?

When I decided to make a change, I knew what industry I wanted to get into and that helped me to narrow my focus. If you aren’t sure what to do, it is easy to get stuck.  If you see no options, the spiral can start. Having some semblance of direction helps-think about this: What would you do if you could do anything? Find out what aspects of your dream job exist and find a path that includes those. Sometimes it isn’t about the job itself, but the qualities of a job that make it enjoyable. If autonomy, creativity and teamwork are aspects of your “dream job” look for careers in which those skills are highlighted.

 How do I feel about doing this work?

If you’ve narrowed it down to the things you like to do, think about how it would be to do it all the time? For example, people say you shouldn’t work at your favorite restaurant because it will ruin it for you. The same could be said for what you want to do. If you enjoy planning events, will you still enjoy it if that is all you are doing? Will you get burnt out and not want to plan events in your personal life anymore? Think about what turning your hobbies into your job will do. There are both sides to doing that so make sure you are aware of that.

Do I have the skills needed?

Experience is important but if you have the skills, sometimes that can mean more. Passion + Skills = Success in my book. In my case, when I don’t know how to do something, I get stuck. I put it off, procrastinate and avoid it. Research the field you are interested in or whatever it is you are looking to do. Sites like Skillshare are super handy at teaching you almost anything you want to learn. There are tons of resources out there and it just takes a little digging to give you a leg up. If you already think you don’t have what it takes, you’ll delay taking action-even if it is something you want to do.

Do I have support?

To me, this is the most important. The support of your family and friends is crucial when making a big life change. Even if it is brought on by your own doing, it can be rough and having a support group to help you through the change can make all the difference.  Letting your friends and family know that while you may have ‘brought it on yourself’ it’s still happening and the love and support they give you can really make or break you during this time of change.

Remember to give yourself a routine. I’ve started by going on a run in the morning (something I have never done and still hate doing), taking my dog on a walk and studying a language. Giving yourself a routine or even goals to hit gives you structure in your day and helps you to not feel so lost.  Keep in mind that no matter how many ‘no’s’ you get, you only need one ‘yes’. Keep motivated, optimistic and keep pushing yourself to be better. Take time to do all the things you never had time to do before.  Watch all those TED Talks you bookmarked, begin reading the novel that’s been gathering dust on your nightstand. Learn how to make a soufflé-keep honing your skills and creating new ones.  Luck is where preparation meets opportunity. You never know what will happen or what paths open up when you are also open to new things.