Two years after her divorce, Emily was 46 years old and working in a state-government job that was too bureaucratic for her. She decided to make a change. "I decided to follow my passion for the outdoors and become a naturalist," says the Richmond, Virginia, native. After going back to college for field biology courses, an internship at an environmental-education center, and many odd jobs to pay bills, she got a job as an outdoor recreation manager at a county parks department. "It was worth all the turmoil. My life has been so much richer for it and led me on many future adventures," says Emily.
If you've ever stared out of your cubicle wondering if there's a better life for you somewhere out there, you're probably in a career rut. "When you find yourself emotionally disengaged -- when you're just going through the motions and stop caring -- then you want to start thinking about new options," says Leslie Evans, a New York City career coach, who says that these apathetic feelings usually start about 18 months before most people actually make a change.
Andrea, 30, from New York City, actually became physically ill from the 14-hour days she spent as a credit-card customer service representative, talking to disgruntled bank customers. Finally, she had enough. "I quit my job and decided to follow my dream to be in the music business. I took a job that paid $8 an hour as a temp at a record label -- much less than what I was making at the bank. Now I'm and agent and represent some of the biggest names in music."