There are so many people today in dramatic career and life transition, and also so many coaches and consultants offering help.

I’ve discovered that giving people simple tactics and strategies does not work unless there has been a true breakthrough in their thinking and behavior that allows them to become unstuck, and to embrace new possibilities where only constraints and limitations were seen before.

So what do you need to do to create your own breakthrough, and make your dreams and visions in life and work a reality?

Here are 6 essential steps to breakthrough:

1. Understand what you truly want
2. Research and commit to doing what it takes
3. Stretch yourself beyond where you are
4. Power Up
5. Develop a powerful money mindset
6. Manage to the Constraints

1) Understand what you truly want - Essence vs. Form

Before you bring about change in your life, it’s critical to understand what you’re truly looking for, and to differentiate between the “essence” and the “form.” The essence is the fundamental characteristic or energy of what you dream of. The form is how the dream is manifested – what it looks like.

If you think you want to start your own business, for instance, get to the heart of what that means to you. Why do you want it? Is it that you’re dying for independence, self-respect, self-esteem, not being beaten up by your boss anymore? Are you wanting to stop the crushing competition and be more collaborative? If so, you may be able to achieve these shifts without changing the “form” of how you work. The biggest mistake people make is to go for the “form” of a dream (I want my own business, for instance) without realizing what that truly entails. The essence of your dream perhaps can be found through other avenues and directions that may be more suited to who you are and your preferences and style.

2) Research and commit to doing what it takes

Once you know exactly what you want to do and why, do research, research, research. Understand beyond a shadow of a doubt what it will take to get you there. Interview experts and those who have succeeded as well as those who have failed at it. What are they telling you? Don’t fall into the trap of a “build it and they will come” mentality. Instead, gain clarity on precisely what your dream will demand of you. Then if/when you’re ready, commit yourself 3000% to making this a successful endeavor.

3) Stretch yourself beyond where you are

There’s a distance (usually sizable) between the person you are today and the person you dream to be. But that’s a great thing! It means your future vision of yourself is grand and expansive. So admit that you need to grow to achieve the dreams you long for. Find out exactly how you need to stretch (get some advice on this from friends, a mentor, colleagues, family, a business or career coach, a financial advisor, etc.), and take action. Do you need new skills? Or a business plan with tactics that truly work? Do you need a better grasp at differentiating yourself and communicating that unique difference in the marketplace? Look at where you feel a bit jealous of what others are doing as a start. That’s usually a very healthy, strong indicator of where you want to be. Then take a step that stretches you to that new goal.

4) Power Up

Let’s face it – it’s a hero’s journey to follow your dreams. It takes tremendous guts, commitment, risk, self-trust, patience, and faith. If you want a fantastic life, it takes fantastic risks. So now’s the time to power up. Look at where you feel insecure, afraid, and unworthy. These are the areas that are calling out to you to address, as soon as possible. The best first step in powering up is to figure out what where your boundaries are being consistently violated. Where do you feel, drained, defeated, overridden, and put down? Identify what have you been desperately been longing to say to someone (a family member, colleague, boss, etc.) and say it, today.

5) Develop a powerful money mindset (and a rock-solid business plan)

So many entrepreneurs and dreamers pursue their dreams and fail. Why? One key reason is that they don’t understand the role of money in life and career success. You can’t have a fulfilling life if you’re constantly feeling a victim of money (either not making enough or feeling like you’ve given up your soul for it).

Look at your money situation with very discerning eyes. Do you have a healthy relationship with money, and powerful one that excites you? If not, get help to revise your negative feelings and actions around money. This might take therapy, a great financial consultant, a small business advisor, a few great self-help books like The Energy of Money – whatever form required so that you can develop tactics (like a rock-solid business plan, a new budget for your expenses, etc.) that will help you make the money you need, spend and manage it wisely, and grow it, for your benefit and the benefit of all around you.

6) Manage to the Constraints

A brilliant colleague of mine, Steve Bennett, Founder of, mentioned to me this week the key concept of “managing to the constraints,” from the book The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Cox (see it on Amazon.) Basically, we must manage our business endeavors and our lives based NOT on what “should be happening,” (i.e. – I’m a great coach so I should have lots of clients). Instead, we must look at what is constraining us from achieving financial or other success. What is not working? What is holding us back from having what we want? It’s critical to challenge your assumptions, to look at what isn’t working, and to change it, and change ourselves in the process (with integrity and purpose) to open new doors and opportunities for success.

All of these strategies require some outside perspective to help you expand your vision. If you’re stuck, please reach out to someone for help. As has been said, “We simply cannot solve a problem on the level of consciousness that created it.”

Breakthrough is just a step way – asking for help is the best start.

Author's Bio: 

Kathy Caprino, M.A. is a nationally-recognized women’s work-life expert, career and executive coach, speaker and author of Breakdown, Breakthrough: The Professional Woman’s Guide to Claiming a Life of Passion, Power, and Purpose (Berrett-Koehler, Nov 08, She is also Founder/President of Ellia Communications, Inc., a coaching and consulting organization dedicated to helping women achieve breakthrough – in their lives and work, relationships, and in themselves – to create life and work as they truly want it.

In her book, coaching, and seminars, Kathy presents compelling stories of women’s career and life transformation, along with her new Model for Empowered Work-Life, with concrete tips and strategies for creating breakthrough in your life, based on findings from her yearlong national research study with over 100 women across the country.

Kathy is a frequent invited speaker and writer on working women’s issues. See her latest media appearance on Fox Business Network discussing the potential impact of women outnumbering men in the workforce for the first time in US history: