Stuck in a rut? Change is just a few simple steps away - no matter what your age
Feeling stuck in a rut? It’s not uncommon to feel dissatisfied from time to time – especially if you don’t like what you’re doing. While we all enjoy fantasising about an alternative life, if you can’t get the thought of starting your own business or taking a travel break out of your head, perhaps it’s time to make a serious change?
The truth is there’s never a perfect time to reinvent your life. There will always be distractions to block the way. Plus, who wants to take on all the extra responsibility and hassle of making a major life change? Well, most actually, according to a 2012 study from the Maastricht School of Management, which found that entrepreneurs were significantly happier than employees. Even if most were earning less than their salaried counterparts, it was the fact that they were doing something they loved – on their own terms – that made all the difference.
Of course, change is easier said than done. No matter what age you are, there’ll always be a reason not to take that first step – which is why we’ve compiled the best advice we could find on how to get started with those grand plans, depending on what life stage you’re at.
Your 30s are fraught with new experiences, including first houses, growing families and promotions. How could you possibly pile anymore on your plate, right? But this is naturally a time of flux, so it's the perfect opportunity! You just need to take the bull by the horns, and here's how...
Living from paycheck to paycheck is fine during your 20s, but now it's serious saving time - particularly if you want to start making your dreams a reality.
Financial planner, Hannah Foxley, recommends budgeting your monthly pay packet according to the 50:30:20 rule. That means 50% should go towards the essentials, such as rent/mortgage, bills, travel and food, 30% should go into savings, and 20% on living. Use an online budget planner like moneysavingexpert.com to help keep you on track.
It also helps to find a money mantra, so next time you're tempted to buy those Jimmy Choos repeat to yourself "I must save 30% of my wages". It's surprising how repeating a simple phrase like this can neutralise bad spending habits.
Although it's great to have a clear and ambitious idea of where you're going and what you want to achieve, always remember it's best not to run before you can walk. The great thing about making a change in your 30s is that you've got plenty of time to carve out your route to success, and if that means downscaling your plans right now to minimise risk later - then so be it.
For example, instead of taking a product from conception to market, building a business and distributing it throughout the world, why not concentrate on developing products and selling the patents first. This will give you the start-up capital, and the experience, you need. This way you can have your cake and take little bites along the way.
Ironically, the greatest thing about being 40 could also be the very thing that stops you from taking a leap in a new direction - that is the feeling of being established. After 20 or so years of carving out your current lifestyle, it can be a really daunting prospect to just up and leave it all behind. After all, what if it goes wrong?
But the great thing about being established is that you have more power and more value to leverage. You know who you are, you know what you're worth and best of all you know how to play the game. Now all you need is the courage to vault that first hurdle.
Experience has given you value, so now you can capitalise on that position to really start making moves in your new direction.
Whether you're looking for a raise from a current employer or seeking out financial support for a new project, know your number and stick to it. Despite being just as qualified, women are still on average earning 7% less than men. Studies suggest this is because men aren't afraid to ask for what they want. So don't be afraid to put on your negotiating hat in the next meeting. But remember to do your research beforehand. Use the internet and social media to find out how high you can realistically pitch your expectations - there's no use unknowingly underselling yourself.
Also try reframing your request in terms of a package of resources, instead of one single issue. So instead of asking just for a pay rise, ask for more funding, a company car and a bigger paycheck. Also don't focus on how these resources will benefit you, emphasise instead how they will emphasise the project, business etc.
What better way to learn how to strike out on your own path than by taking the advice of someone who has already been there. Whether they are a friend, an acquaintance or even a complete stranger, there's a lot to be learned and you could even avoid the mistakes they encountered on the way.
Enrolling in specialist classes, or even a full time course, could also be a great option. There are a wide range available through the Open University and various private firms. Just remember to do your research carefully to make sure a particular offering is worth your time and money.
With retirement in sight, and the stresses of raising a young family behind you, the 50s bring with them a newfound sense of freedom!
Better yet, you've more experience, more knowledge and more capital than ever before - the world is your oyster. It's just up to you what you decide to do with it.
Of course, after so much hard work has gone into building up this security, it can be very hard to risk it on a new venture - the result of which may be unknown. Technical entrepreneur, Daniel Gulati, says if you see your choice as a step towards a larger goal it will increase the comfort level. Timing change after a time milestone, like an anniversary, will also help you to view it more favourably.
If you're going to implement a major change in your life, make sure it's worth the hassle. You want to be reaping the benefits sooner rather than later, so don't be tempted to recreate old trends. Open yourself up to new possibilities.
This might mean taking some time to review what exactly it is that you want. Return to old hobbies that got lost in the mix of work, family and home life before. Speaking of which, reconnect with old acquaintances and even try out something you've never done before but always wanted to. From here, you should be able to recognise where you want to go or what you want to achieve and do.
The great thing about 50 is you have the wisdom to know what's truly important and the energy to make it happen.
Keep a finger on the pulse of the latest trends with the help of social media and the internet. Google + is a great way to filter down the reams of information available on the internet, so that you only see what's beneficial and relevant to you.
Instagram is also useful for building a recognisable online brand, which will allow you to reach a whole new audience of digitally-minded people, or just keep in touch with friends and family in a fun and interactive way.
Finally, drop box is the best way to save and transfer important files between people. You simply upload what you want to send - be it a picture or a written document - to the drop box website and after inputting the details of your desired recipient it automatically transfer the files - no fuss and super quick.