4. Who do I want to be?

So many of us spend a lot of time wondering, "Who am I?" We're worried that we never really figured this out when we were younger, or that, as time passed, we got so busy with our jobs or our families or our addictions or that one truly horrible boyfriend who wouldn't go away that we lost ourselves without even knowing it.

Stop right there, says Gordon. Because that is a question about what's already happened to you. And when you're looking for change, you need to think about what might happen. People usually think they're doing just this, but they only go halfway. Say you're an architect. You might know you want a new job or you want to get out of your old one. You might even understand that you don't want to work at a large firm again. But have you considered whether you want to work at a small firm, a medium firm or your own firm? Do you want to build houses or bridges or stadiums or professional horse barns? Do you want to dump architecture and become a foot model or an orthodontist? What would you do if you could do anything—instead of just taking the next logical step in the small universe where you already live? There is a reason they call it leaping—and before you do it, imagining the landscape you'll hit when you land on the other side of the void in all its possibility and detail will determine how many roads and forests and cities the map of your future contains.

Ellie Gordon is the principal at EG Coaching in New York City and the founder and former owner of The Hot Sox Company.

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