If one thing in life is certain, it’s that change is inevitable. No one really ever plans things with certainty. Oftentimes, things just happen.

If we are lucky enough to stumble into half of the broad personal, social and professional objectives that we set for ourselves, we can be proud. The more specific goals, however, usually become murkier with time and, as a result, end up changing gears and transforming into more attainable ones.

Some men are capable of achieving their goals in the exact manner that they set out to, often because they target them with a near-maniacal focus. And a very select few will go even further, upping the ante on their goals once they reach them and making them loftier still.

The toughest goals to reach, however, are usually those that involve a drastic change. For those who are capable of doing so, the impulse toward making a dramatic shift may be strong — but that doesn’t mean that it’s always advisable.

Career moves

What constitutes a drastic change? Well, I’m not talking about leaving one consulting firm to work for another, for example. I’m talking about doing something truly life-altering, like handing in your resignation and heading out to an island or picking up an apron and starting a restaurant.

Does anyone actually do this kind of thing outside of the big screen? I haven’t, and probably never will. But you may, and you should consider the following before doing so.

The ends but not the means

Before making any sudden change, you need to ask yourself what it is that you hope to be doing in your reincarnation. Do you want to go back to school and study? The ends may sound appealing, but there are the means to consider. First ask yourself if you are still even capable of sitting down in a classroom setting without going crazy. Additionally, there are the costs to consider — not just of tuition, but also of forgoing a paycheck for so long. The desire for change may be there, but the methods of achieving such a goal may not.

Some questions to consider…

Change of scenery

A geographical change needn’t always have a tropical island as its final destination. Many young professionals simply want to test themselves in a new city. Countless people have left their hometowns to head to major metropolitan centers like New York, San Francisco or London to see if they can cut it. Before moving to the big city, however, some questions need to be answered. First off, are you moving in pursuit of better opportunities, or simply for a change of scenery? These days, with globalization and IT being what they are, you never need to be in any city for most occupations — though it would be nice on some days. There are also all the direct and indirect costs of relocating to consider.

To profit or not to profit

Another enticing goal for many is to leave the profit sector for the nonprofit one. There are an increasing number of nonprofit organizations out there striving to apply the positive spirit of traditional enterprises to their own missions. Accordingly, the demand for entrepreneurial, creative and agile young professionals has never been higher in this sector. Of course, this is not for everyone, but it is an endeavor worth considering at one point or another in life.

Taking it public

Another career switch is to make the jump from the private to the public sector. Having attained this goal, one will see that the rewards in one’s new career are very different. Nonetheless, working in the public sector offers considerable challenges and benefits that one should not simply discount. A major factor to take into account, however, is the public disclosure and responsibilities that come with the territory.

Reality check(list)

Before tendering your resignation and packing your bags, make sure to understand that any major change in employment will also require major changes in lifestyle and state of mind. Do not pursue your goals blindly; make sure you understand the full financial, social and career implications that come with change. Better yet, do some research and ask questions to those who have undertaken similar shifts. Sometimes, despite everything you thought that you knew, you find that some of your most basic, fundamental assumptions were off, way off.

E-mail of the week:

I have been approached by a company and been asked to join, either as a full-time employee or as a consultant. What do you recommend?

Your decision should be based on your overall life situation, not just your career aspirations. For example, there are some benefits that employees get — such as medical insurance — that might be appealing to one person but downright useless to another. In the same vein, if you are starting a family, you might need the stability of steady employment. If you’re financially well off, you might be able to forgo the stability and welcome the potential upsides of consulting work.

One major advantage to taking the consulting route is that you will not be handcuffed to your employer and will be able to freelance a bit more. Furthermore, when the economy is doing well and your service is in demand, you will be able to exert considerable pricing power and charge a premium. If you were a full-timer, your employer would be able to keep wages relatively the same and bag the premium. Of course, it does not take much for a good economy to turn sour, so the bottom-line is how much risk you wish to shoulder yourself. If you feel that you can always get a job down the road, then maybe the time is right to go in as a freelance consultant and leverage your current mandate to get more business… you just might end up with the best of both worlds.

Ash Karbasfrooshan is also the author of Course To Success, available at www.CourseToSuccess.com. His new book, The Confessions of Alexander The Great: 33 Lessons in Greatness, is available at www.AlexanderTheBook.com.