An April 1st NY Times article about an outfit called Vocation Vacations offers an important perspective.
There's a lot of homework behind many successful career transitions. You don't have to do the homework; I know many people who have leapt before they looked (including me). Sometimes this works.
Sometimes it is out of the frying pan, into the fire.
If you've got a corporate background, but dream of working on your own (the myth is, from home in your fuzzy slippers)...or in a Mom and Pop business. When I first moved out of a corporate job, the first slap of reality in Fuzzy Slipper America was when I learned that there was no Tech Support when my computer acted up.
Or, to be more precise, I was my own IT department.
Someone close to me dreamt of opening a motorcycle repair shop. When I suggested that he take an entry level job in this kind of business to see if he liked the work, he got mad at me. "Why do you want me to work for lousy wages?"
Um, well, because in a small business, when people don't show up, you have to do their jobs. I wound up training to be a yoga teacher for precisely this reason. (I consequently learned that I enjoy teaching!)
Vocation Vacations sets up career coaching and unpaid internships -- short ones, of several days -- for people who want to spend time in their dream jobs. Neat business idea.
Whether you're a prospective cheese maker, winery owner, voice over producer, wedding organizer, florist, or you name it! This company will set you up with several days of one on one mentoring with an experienced business owner. (And yes, there is even a yoga studio in Austin, Texas listed as an option.) Usually the cost is less than $1200.
On Episode 36 of the HBR Ideacast podcast (which you can hear online, or get at i-Tunes) Harvard University's director of career development Tim Butler offers similar advice: he even advises that you walk through the hallways of the place you'd like to work, to get even the sensory and intuitive impressions of whether you'd like to be there.
You don't have to spend $1200 to have this experience. You can interview people who have your dream job, maybe find part time work or an unpaid internship in the field. If you're serious about testing the waters, you'll find a way.
(I have Tim's new book on its way from Amazon. Once I've read Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths, I'll post a review!)