We all want a fulfilling career with flexibility and work-life balance. It’s even sweeter if your job comes with excellent pay and benefits. If you’ve been dreaming of changing careers, going for that big promotion, negotiating a raise, or even starting your own business, now could be a perfect time. According to Inc., the number of women-owned companies jumped 58 percent in the last decade. 

More women are making serious strides in their careers. Of course, whether you’re a working mom, an aspiring entrepreneur, or just starting your career in an entry-level job, you might feel stuck or uncertain about what to do next. Here’s some actionable advice to help boss up your career path, find a job you love, and start living the life of your dreams.

Taking the Leap

Author and women’s rights advocate Padma Lakshmi recently told Forbes, “Nobody has ever gotten anything and sustained anything because someone handed it to them.” In other words, if you want to achieve the career of your dreams, you’ll need to take action. For instance, if you want to run your own business, you need to overcome your fear of failure and start taking steps toward making your dream a reality.

It becomes easier to take the leap when you form a plan of action. First, conduct market research, determine your overhead costs, and research financing options. Develop a plan for your business. Include an online presence, such as a website, social media pages, and a method of accepting payments from customers. By considering these aspects ahead of time, you’ll reduce stress and set yourself up for success from the start.

Think About What You Need to Get Going

Whether you’re hoping to move up in your current role or start your own business venture, think about what you need to launch yourself to the next level. If you’re starting your own company, for example, you’ll need a great-looking and reliable website. It might make sense to start this process by finding the best web host for your needs and building from there. There are many choices for budget-conscious startups and a variety of low-cost hosting plans available.

You’ll also need to think about where you’re going to run your business. You can work from home, which comes with a slew of benefits: You can wear casual attire every day, save money on lunches, and not have to wait in traffic to get to and from work. If working from home sounds appealing to you, you’ll need to set up a space in a separate room to keep distractions to a minimum. If you’re lacking in space, consider working out of your garage. Don’t have one? You can purchase and build one made out of prefab steel. You might be tempted to use the garage for storage as well, but you should only use it for your business; if it becomes successful, the garage can officially become your permanent office!

On the other hand, if you’re trying to shift to a new role within your company, you may need to rework your resume. You can hire a professional to take a look and make changes as they see necessary, or you can use a free tool that will help you rework your existing format or build one from scratch. Whatever you need to accomplish, identifying and putting it into action early on will give you a leg up on reaching the next phase of your career.

Getting that Money

Leveling up your career is deeply satisfying. You’ll get to enjoy the increased pride that comes along with promotions, raises, or even just the satisfaction of work-life balance. “Is there anything more gratifying than telling all your friends that you finally got a raise?” asks content marketer Kit Warchol. “Actually, yes — that extra dollar amount in your paycheck feels even better.”

Women who feel shy or uncertain about negotiating for raises and promotions should start by making a list of the ways they bring value to a company. Know your worth by researching what similar companies are paying people with your level of experience. That way, you can confidently explain why you deserve more money.

Switching Careers

Whether you’re feeling stuck in your current job or have found a new field that inspires you, it’s sometimes necessary to change careers. As you weigh your options, you can gain clarity by considering your needs, desires, and values. Which job perks significantly impact your life? What are your deal-breakers? Are you willing to relocate? What salary do you desire? With companies offering better benefits than ever before, women have plenty of options to choose from.

Improving Work-Life Balance

Whether you run your own business or work in a more traditional 9-to-5 environment, maintaining work-life balance can be tricky. To prevent burnout, keep an eye on your time management. Tiffany Dufu, author of Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less, says ambitious women often feel inadequate for their own personal and professional imperfections. Instead of trying to handle everything on your own, Dufu recommends delegating tasks to others. Prioritize must-have tasks over “things that could be skipped,” like folding laundry and washing the car. These tips will lead to a schedule that is lower-stress and allows you more free time to do what matters most to you.

Throughout your job search, it’s important to remain realistic. After all, no job is easy all the time. It’s called “work” for a reason. However, when you’re lucky enough to get paid to do something you love, your entire lifestyle will improve. You’ll truly enjoy a sense of work-life balance. Best of all, you’ll feel healthier, happier, and more fulfilled in your personal and professional life.