Seven tips for making your career-change dreams a reality

Starting to dread the day job? Or need a more flexible career now you're also a mum? Here's how to find a new professional direction that's right for you and your family.

If the thought of a career change fills you with excitement, but also a twinge of fear and apprehension, don't be put off.

Motherhood gives you distance and perspective on your life, so if you're pondering what career direction you should take now that your family dynamics have changed, allow yourself to dream about new possibilities - then use these tips to start to make them a reality.

1. Pin down what you have to offer

The feelings of being trapped in a job that doesn't suit you can be heightened by motherhood - why spend hours away from your kids doing something you don't enjoy?

Start by thinking about what your strengths are and about all of the transferable skills you have. Think laterally about how these might be used in a different job or sector, perhaps closer to home?

Contact the head of HR at a company that interests you and find out what qualities and skills they look for - it will help you give your career planning and development a focus.

2. Do what you love NOW

Your priorities can change, and what used to satisfy you as a career choice may now seem wrong for you.

Do you find yourself passionately involved in something locally or online that's totally captured your imagination? If you find you're volunteering your time to something for free, imagine how much you'd love earning a living for doing it.

Make doing something you genuinely care about - supporting a charity, a cause, a community project - your source of income. Think about what training or contacts you may need to pursue to make this happen and start putting the wheels in motion.

3. Be your own boss

You used to be happy being part of a team or in charge of one, but the thought of going back to your demanding boss and office politics might fill you with dread. So ditch the boss and become the mistress of your own destiny.

More and more people are leaping into freelance or entrepreneurial life because running a small business from home has many advantages - the satisfaction of creating something for yourself, the buzz of a new venture, the time you free up by not having to commute, not to mention the money you might save on childcare.

Careful planning and business advice are essential, though, so make sure you have some professional help with thinking it through.

4. Find flexibility

Do you no longer feel like the demanding full-time job you once had fits in with family life? Working flexibly is a dream for many mums, because it gives you time to do the family stuff while still contributing to finances.

There are lots of great companies that can help you find flexible work and work-from-home jobs in a field that interests you. Search online for flexible working' and you'll soon feel inspired.

5. Use your experience

Many women make a good living from using expertise acquired over the years to coach others. Could you become a de-cluttering expert, a life coach, a financial coach, or a fitness and nutrition guru?

Finding clients can be tricky and take time, and this is where networking and social media come in. You need your own website to act as your shop front' and a strong social media presence to help you create a buzz around your service and attract customers to you.

6. Brush up your personal brand

Your personal brand is what you're known for, how people see you - it's what people say about you when you're out of the room. So whether you're applying for jobs or creating a buzz as an entrepreneur, you need to make sure, if someone looked you up online, they'd only find good things.

Make sure your LinkedIn profile portrays you in a positive light, listing achievements and defining your goals. The same goes for social media - are you always showing yourself at your best?

To make sure you always look groomed and polished, use Pantene Pro-V Shampoo and Conditioner and feel confident every time your personal brand is on show.

7. Look at your life stage

If your kids are all at an age where they're a bit more independent, you may find you crave a more dynamic way to spend your day.

Do you miss being part of a team? Maybe you long for a new challenge? Don't be afraid to make regular changes to suit your evolving circumstances. Start by signing up to temp agencies to get yourself out there and talk to friends and connections to research work opportunities that interest you.

What qualifications and skills are required? How can you use your past experience to make yourself appealing to the job market that interests you? The right opportunity for you is out there, it's just a matter of finding it.

Have you recently made a career change? Share your lessons with us in the comments section below.