UNITED STATES—Changing your life can seem simultaneously tempting and impossible. It’s one of those things that only happens in movies or that you daydream about when you hate your job, but in real life, who would take the big, risky leap required and shake up the status quo? It could be you, and the tips below can help you make that change.

Identify the Need

Your first step is to figure out what it is that really needs to change in your life. Many sometimes make the mistake of thinking their relationship or family is the problem when what they really need is a career change. The urge to do something, even if it’s the wrong something, can be overwhelming, but it’s much better to really get to the bottom of the source of your unhappiness.  The push to exercise when you don’t want to needs to be rooted in your belief in the need for exercise to be something to help change your life. Same goes for any other need you eventually identify. If you’re struggling to do so, journaling or talking to a counselor, life coach or friend may help guide you.

Plan Ahead

Here’s another reason not to barrel into some change, any change in that you need to plan ahead in order to increase the likelihood of success. Do research. Think about where you are now, where you want to be and what steps you’ll need to take to get there. Create a blueprint before you get started. If you want to go to school, how will you pay for it? Find out what scholarships you might be eligible for. If you want to start a business, what are the best funding sources? Read up on how to get a business loan and see what you need to do to make yourself appealing to lenders. Planning ahead doesn’t mean moving every obstacle out of the way before you get started. It does mean anticipating some of the major and earliest ones and working through ways to deal with them so that you don’t get discouraged at the very beginning.

Dare to Be Unconventional

The fear of change is a huge driver in human behavior. People will remain in miserable jobs, relationships, and lives because it can be less scary to live in an environment that makes you unhappy than to face the unknown. One reason change can be frightening is that it can demand that you live more courageously than you have up until now, sometimes making changes that are outside what many people see as a normal path. Going back to school when you’re middle-aged or even have kids of your own attending college at the same time can feel strange.

People may tell you that starting your own business or retiring early so that you can travel the world is too risky. These types of comments can make you hesitate, but most of the time, they are much more about the person who is saying them than about any objective assessment of what you’re doing. If the best argument anyone can mount against a big change is along the lines of this isn’t how people usually do it or it seems risky, you can probably safely ignore their objections as long as you have done your research and are prepared for the challenges ahead.