Planning for the future often includes a career to be excited about. With the day to day grind many people learn to live with, dreams for a more fulfilling job often remain just that – dreams.

Fear, doubt, financial worries, and other commitments make following that dream more of a nightmare. But it's really not that scary. With the right tools to navigate the path to a job that you've only dreamed of, a bright tomorrow awaits just like the one that follows even the worst nightmare.

Three steps to a job that is right up your alley can be yours if you really want it. It's time to wake up and make your dream job a reality.

Start Now

If you have a dream job, it's time to take your life by the reins and make it come true as soon as you can. That means making the move starting now. Yes, now. Not after you've put in another year at your current company. Not after you've landed your Master's. Not next Monday. The longer you prolong the kickoff to the new you, the more reasons you'll come up with that you're not quite ready.

But starting now doesn't mean "poof," you'll have a new job. Starting now means putting forth a genuine effort to make it eventually happen. This can mean updating your resume, giving yourself a timeline, creating a blog or website, or even getting a new wardrobe that better suits (no pun intended) your new endeavor.

Take courses or seminars that will improve your education and offer to intern or be mentored in the field. Learn all you can about this job and create a path to direct you there. Even if you only have an hour a day to put towards this goal, it's better than doing nothing at all. It may take time, but the sooner you get going, the sooner you'll get there.

As per Monster, "Don't be deterred by a lack of experience. Twenty- and thirty-somethings have more flexibility when it comes to test-driving different careers. The process of self-discovery is much easier when you're unencumbered by family responsibilities and substantial financial burdens, and when you haven't yet reached a level in a career where it's tougher to turn back. That said, it's never too late to pursue your passion."

Have a Clear Objective

In order to land your dream job, you need to know what it is. If you aren't able to pinpoint your goal, you may not ever be able to score. For instance, if you're currently working in finance but dream to do something more creative, that's a good start, but there are many jobs that require creative skills – a baker, a jazz musician, a digital artist, even a dog groomer. Where do you fit in?

According to Fortune, "Before you network, and certainly before you step into an interview, know your goals and what you're dreaming to do. That sounds like a no-brainer, but our experts say the No. 1 mistake job seekers make is not being able to articulate what kind of job they want."

Asses your talents and interests carefully and honestly. If your dream job is to become a marriage counselor, are you willing and able to put in the years of work required? Do you have a well-suited personality and proper schooling necessary for this career? As per The Muse, "Once you figure out what you want, it's time to string that together with your skills and past experience in a way that makes sense for your next position. Knowing your story well enough to tell it forward and backward won't just help you in the interview, it'll help you with your application materials and networking efforts."

Monster adds, "Take time to do a self-assessment of your values, how you like to work and what you'd be compelled to do even if you never got paid. Research careers and industries that map to your skills and interests."

Once you've honed in on a career that fits your requirements, you'll be better able to take the appropriate steps to make it there. A clear objective will yield a clear mind - one that will be able to focus on the prize – your dream job.

Network

As per Business News Daily, "Realizing what you want is a major step, but you should keep the momentum going by reaching out to the right people who can help you, said Courtney Kirschbaum, a career and life coach and founder of online training company Original Experience."

People who are excited about their jobs are eager to share their passion and knowledge with like-minded and enthusiastic people. Talk to as many people you can in the field. There is so much to learn and every person has something unique to bring to the table. And get out there and actually meet people – in person – whenever possible. Robert Walters Career Advice advises, "As much as social media and the ease of email make it tempting to network from home in your sweats, nothing replaces the connection of a good old fashioned face-to-face. Find out about industry events, Meetups and social opportunities to mingle with those who already run in the professional crowds you're trying to break into."

While you may not be quite ready to get to work yet, these connections will be of great value once you're prepared to apply for jobs in the field. Always stay in contact with the people who've impressed you the most and be willing to go the extra mile to show them you're a hard and dedicated worker. Stand out and you'll be memorable and taken seriously. Those who've already realized their dream can be your stepping stone to reaching yours.

Work can be purposeful and exhilarating. It's time to make your dreams come true.

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Developing further skills can boost your career at any stage.

Whether you are looking for a new job or trying to grow in your current one, getting a certification can be a great way to improve your skills.

Anyone can put that they are proficient in a computer program on their resume but having a certificate can help you stand out amongst the competition and give credence to the strength of your skills.

But what's the best way to invest in yourself without breaking the bank? Some certification programs can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. We are going to walk through six of the best certifications you can get for $100 or less.

Tableau

Tableau's data visualization capabilities are comparable to Domo and Power BI.

Who is it best for: Those who work with analyzing and presenting data.

Cost: $100 for Tableau Desktop Specialist; additional certifications are available for a larger fee.

More companies than ever see themselves as data companies. Being able to understand data and use it to guide decisions at your company is often critical to taking on a leadership role. Not to mention, being able to present the data in a clean, attractive, and compelling way can help get buy-in from others in your organization or clients. That's why Tableau is a great tool to have in your toolbox.

Tableau allows you to create interactive visual analytics dashboards. In layman's terms, you can take data; create graphs, maps, or charts; and then allow end-users to interact with these graphics to better understand the information. It's a fantastic tool allowing non-technical users to gain insights for data-driven decision-making.

Tableau Desktop Specialist certification starts at $100 and has no expiration date. There are many videos on Tableau's site to prepare for your exam as well as Tableau Starter Kits allowing you to play around and learn the different capabilities of the program. Tableau offers a 14-day free trial as well as free license for one year for students.

Additional certifications after Desktop Specialist are Desktop Associate and Desktop Professional. Those working with a Tableau server may also be interested in a separate certification as a Server Associate or Server Professional.

The Federal Reserve sets the guardrails for the federal funds rate, and through that helps control the money supply for the nation.

When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.

A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.

One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.

The Federal Reserve The Federal Reserve


The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.

This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.

The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.

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Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.

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