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Making a Life Change Requires Doing Some Research

Jul 7, 2008
The first part of your research has nothing to do with books, advisors, or Websites. It's about you. Before you can begin to research, you will need to closely examine yourself. Narrowing and defining your goals provides clarity which will allow you to start researching your options. By asking a million and one questions, you'll begin to get your new life into focus.

Are you looking for an experience to supplement the quality of your existing life or are you looking for an entirely new lifestyle? Do you want to renew past relationships or are you longing to meet new people who enhance the quality of your life? Would you like to get involved with a community or charity organization or participate in civic activities? We've all known wonderful people who've had great potential that somehow never gets realized, often because they fail to ask themselves the right questions. Don't let yourself fall into that trap. You need to constantly examine what's working in your life and what isn't. You need to research and examine and it's an ongoing exercise.

7 Things to Know about Research

1) Research is a process. It helps transform the seed of an idea into a practical list of things to do.

2) Research starts internally before branching out to external sources

3) Research helps to narrow down your choices. The more information you ascertain about your options, the easier it will be to eliminate those that don't feel right.

4) Research takes time. It requires patience and determination.

5) Research is unpredictable. Unexpected opportunities will present themselves at surprising moments.

6) Research is exciting. Gathering information regarding something you care about is one of the best ways we know to raise your spirits, increase your energy level, and boost your confidence.

7) Research is rewarding. Finding answers to relevant questions will give you courage, which in turn, will help you overcome fear.

For instance, if you're wondering how you can bring more passion into your life, think hard about which activities you enjoy doing, then think about how you'd like to incorporate them into your life. Part-time hobby? Full-time career? If you're considering a change in career, reflect on which parts of your job you enjoy most. Which parts do you dislike? Most importantly, how does your work -- and your life as a whole -- reflect your passions? Think about what you like and don't like to do and ask yourself as many questions as it takes to determine as many ways as possible to narrow down your goals.

Ask yourself what you would do if you could do anything at all. Would you look for a new job or change careers? Would you work at home? Volunteer at a homeless shelter? Run in a marathon? Relocate to a different climate? Move closer to or farther away from your family? Doing research is about asking questions in order to find answers. To complete this first step of the process, you must gather as many answers as possible. More answers will come as you continue your research but in order to move on, you need to have a good grip on what part of your life you'd like to change. Don't worry yet if it feels unrealistic and don't be concerned about what other people might think. You have a desire to change and that's all that counts.

If you crave a change in environment, ask yourself how drastic you think that change ought to be. Evaluate your current environment and consider how it impacts your daily life. Think about where you live, where you work, what you do, which elements of your environment make you happy and which you'd like to improve. Remember that a minor change can have a major impact on your life. Sometimes all you need to do to create a positive environment for yourself is to unclutter your space. For some of us, it's hard to work effectively when we can't find a way through our mess. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the very thought of cleaning up, start small: one drawer, one closet, or one room at a time, and then another; eventually you will get your space in order.

Now it's time to determine your own personal goals by completing this exercise. Using the samples that follow to get you started, identify exactly what you'd like to accomplish. Make a clean, clear list on a piece of paper and describe each goal in a single sentence beginning with "I would like to..." Try to be as specific as possible by asking yourself as many questions as it takes to narrow your goals down as we've done in the examples below. Of course, these scenarios are only meant to get you started. It would be impossible for us to include every potential situation, so use this list as a springboard to create your own personalized version. Which of the following goals strike a chord with you? Can you think of others as well? Get your notebook and pen ready, and focus on what you want to do.

I'd like to change my career path.

Would you like to change career paths entirely to do something you're more passionate about?
Would you like to change jobs and stay in your current field?
Would you like to work at home?
Would you like to pursue a passion by starting your own business?
Would you like to work for your family's business?
Would you like to go back to school?

I'd like to spend more time focusing on a hobby or passion.

Would you like to use your hobby to increase your income?
Would you like to find other people who share the same passion?
Would you like to investigate career options pertaining to your passion?
Would you like to adjust your current schedule to allow more time for your hobby?

I'd like to change or improve one or more of my family relationships.

Would you like to spend more time with your children?
Would you like to improve your relationship with your parents?
Would you like to spend more time with your spouse or significant other?
Would you like to improve your relationship with your in-laws?
Would you like to improve your relationship with one or more of your siblings?
Would you like to end a significant relationship in your life?

I'd like to change or improve one or more of my working relationships

Would you like to improve your relationship with your boss?
Would you like to improve your relationship with your co-workers?
Would you like to improve your relationship with your customers?
Would you like to improve your relationship with your suppliers?
Would you like to improve your relationship with your employees?

I'd like to change or improve one or more of my social relationships

Would you like to improve your relationship with one or more friends?
Would you like to change your circle of friends?
Would you like to improve your relationship with your neighbors?
Would you like to add new friends to your social life?

I'd like to change my current living environment

Would you like to move to a new home in your current town/city?
Would you like to move to a new town/city?
Would you like to move to a different part of the country?
Would you like to move to another country?
Would you like to make some changes to your current home environment without moving?

I'd like to change my current working environment

Would you like to change your physical surroundings at work?
Would you like to change the amount of pressure you feel at work?
Would you like to change the size of the company where you work?
Would you like to change how far you commute to work?
Would you like to change the pace at which you work?

I'd like to change my financial situation

Would you like to pay off your debts?
Would you like to address issues associated with your spending habits?
Would you like to address issues associated with other family members' spending habits?
Would you like to raise money to fund a project?
Would you like to earn additional money by working part-time?

I'd like to improve my well-being

Would you like to lose weight?
Would you like to improve your overall physical condition?
Would you like to eat healthier food?
Would you like to improve the spiritual dimension of your life?

I'd like to change my daily routine.

Would you like some time to work on a hobby?
Would you like to change your work schedule?
Would you like to change your sleep schedule?
Would you like to add new activities to your day?

Give yourself plenty of time to think of everything you'd like to do. Remember that these questions are just meant to get you started. You'll come up with more questions to help you explore every part of your life. In this part of the research process, you should collect all of your goals, so don't hold back. Make sure you list them all and then define them as best you can.

Take as much time as you need to create this list until you think it's ready. Put it aside for a day or two, then review it and confirm that they feel right to you. Don't worry yet about how you can achieve them, right now your only job is to create an honest, accurate list of what you would like to do. Remember to be as specific as possible. The more accurately you can define your vision, the easier it will be to move forward.

Remember

Do

Ask yourself probing questions until you know what it is you want to do
Be as specific as you can with your answers
Acknowledge that change is a normal, natural part of life

Don't

Dismiss any options without careful consideration
Stay where you are just because you think it's what you're supposed to do
Waste your talent
About the Author
Bob and Melinda Blanchard are motivational, life change experts who teach people how to successfully navigate life transitions such as graduation, divorce, career change, starting a business or simply pursuing your dreams. To learn more about their books and how to live what you love, visit Live What You Love .
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