It is possible to pay the bills while moving toward your dream work: follow a Dual Path.

“Dual Path” job search means to do a J.O.B. while you take the steps to do what you love.

I’ve done this myself, and coach others to do this. A few things to remember: It takes time to reach a big dream or goal. Little steps and actions will add up to the big transition. (You’ve heard the saying ‘every overnight sensation worked for years to get there.’) And the time will pass anyway, so by taking the steps, you’ll have something great at the end of the time period. Action is key to realizing a dream.

A Dual Path means creating a plan. A plan to get you from where you are today to where you want to be in the future. A plan to transition from your J.O.B. to your “right fit” work.

Plans start with two things:

  1. an assessment of where you are right now
  2. a vision of where you want to be in a specific period of time.

Then comes a SWOT analysis: what are your Strengths and Weaknesses? What Opportunities do you see? Are there any circumstances or outside forces that Threaten your dream?

As part of the SWOT, I recommend doing a “gap analysis” – how far are you from reaching your dream?

  • Do you need to learn another skill or get a degree or otherwise add to your work tool kit?
  • Does your dream entail starting a business?
  • Do you have ideas you need to test out?
  • What kind of network do you need to build?
  • How about your appearance and how you present yourself?
  • Is it in line with your dream?
  • What kind of marketing knowledge do you have?

The next planning phase is coming up with strategies to pursue.  These are big “buckets” or categories of actions that will take you in the direction of your dream. Sample strategies are:

  1. “Filling the gaps in my knowledge”
  2. “Taking a J.O.B. as closely aligned as possible with my dream work”
  3. “Starting a business on the side doing what I love”
  4. “Building a network”
  5. “Filing for a patent or otherwise protecting my intellectual property”
  6. “Volunteering in my chosen field”
  7. “Providing my service pro bono (for free) so I can develop my skill and see how the universe responds to me”
  8. “Systematizing my service or program so I can produce consistent results”

Within each strategy will be specific actions or tactics.  Let’s take “Volunteering in my chosen field.” Here are actions I’d take to implement that strategy:

  • Make room in  my schedule for volunteer work, a specific amount of time each week
  • Research non-profit (and for-profit) companies working in my field
  • Decide which ones are congruent with my values and the way I like to work
  • Identify a decision-maker at each one
  • Contact those people and ask for an informational interview to learn more about the organization and its work
  • At the “interview,” inquire about possibilities for volunteering (for-profit companies may take an unpaid intern)
  • Choose which place to volunteer and make the commitment
  • Show up regularly
  • Keep notes on what I’m learning and can use later, and make note of my impact
  • Ask for feedback to see what I do well and what I can do better
  • List my volunteer work on my LinkedIn profile and resume
  • Connect with people in the company and field

Is a dual path for you? You can keep feeding your dream!