1. You dread going to work. All the time.

    • If you get this pit-in-your-stomach feeling on a near-daily basis, it is likely time to look elsewhere. This is especially true if you are not a leader in your workplace. If things aren’t going great, but you don’t have the ability to make meaningful change, it’s difficult to enjoy going to work. And it ain’t gonna get any better.

2. You don’t mind sacrificing to reach your goal.

    • Getting where you want to go–whether that involves going to school or starting at the bottom in a new career path–will require you to give something up. Maybe that something is income. Perhaps it’s family time. It could be the stability of a steady, if not scintillating, job. Something will have to go, and you need to be ok with that.

3. Your friends and family support your decision.

    • When you tell people about this crazy idea of yours, how do they react? Do they scream “It’s about damn time!?” or “Wow! You’d be great at that!” Or is the response more along the lines of “Oh. Well, what about your current job?” or “Didn’t you already go to school to do _____?” or even “Wow. That’s kinda crazy. Pass the ketchup.” It’s not imperative that everyone in your life agrees with your decision. But you will need support during this transition, and if you have at least one or two cheerleaders it will be much easier to get through the crappy times. And there will be crappy times.

4. You can live with imperfection.

    • Trust me, you are not gonna be great right outta the gate. No matter how successful you were in your previous life, you are going to struggle in this new one. When we’re good at something, we often conveniently forget how long it took us to get that way. This new thing? You’re gonna suck at it for a while.

5. You understand and have weighed the pros and cons of chasing your dream.

    • Take off the rose-colored glasses and open your eyes real wide . . . Wider . . . Wider . . . . Think “A Clockwork Orange.” There ya go. You HAVE TO know the time frame it will take to reach this dream position, how much money you can (or can’t) make, what the job requirements are, what the financial commitment is, and so on, and so on. Be brutally honest with yourself or you may end up facing a very unpleasant reality later on.

6. You truly can’t imagine doing anything else.

    • If the fantasy of this new vocation keeps you awake at night, if it intrudes on your thoughts daily, if you just know in your heart you couldn’t be happy doing anything but this one thing. . . WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?? Get out there and do it, already!