"I want a more satisfying career, but where do I begin?"

When you're considering making a change in your career, it's difficult to know where to start. There are usually conflicting thoughts and feelings involved, and too often the result is a kind of paralysis. In addition, most people simply lack the necessary resources, knowledge and skill to conduct an effective search campaign on their own.

Although finding a better job or more satisfying career might feel like a very random and confusing experience, there is actually a proven approach to achieving this goal.

But we need to start at the beginning, and that means doing an "internal audit" of yourself. As I often tell my clients, career development is "an inside game." We go inside before we look outside. If you want to achieve your career potential, you must first get totally clear on such questions as – who you are, what's important to you, what you really want and need, what your long-term goals are, what motivates you to do what you do, what your professional preferences are – and many more. Only after you've gained clarity on these criteria, does it makes sense to "go out into the world" and manifest your own unique vision of career success.

Getting into resumes, interviewing, negotiating, networking, and all the other typical "job search topics" before you've lain a strong foundation is nothing but a recipe for frenzied activity without forward movement. Perhaps you've already experienced this. It can be very frustrating, depressing, and – worst of all – "de-motivating!"

As stated above, career transition is mostly "an inside game." Your progress will have much more to do with "what's going on between your two ears" than with the "external circumstances" of the economy or job market.

To get your job search started on the right foot, it's important to build a solid foundation of self-knowledge and clarity. Use separate sheets if necessary to answer the following questions. Be as thorough and candid as possible, and take as much time as you need.

* Describe your current career situation as succinctly as possible; include both the "good" and the "bad."
* Describe the way you would ideally like it to be. Be as specific as possible in identifying your primary career "desires."
* What are you doing in your work that you want to continue doing? With whom?
* Does anyone else you know now have the kind of work situation you envision? If so, describe it in detail. What steps did this person take to get there?
* What is necessary for your future (goals) regarding money, time and quality of life – in one year? Five years? Ten years?
* What are you not doing professionally that you would like to be doing?
* What unique qualities or characteristics do you bring to your career?
* In your work, what skills and abilities are not being properly utilized or fully expressed?
* What predictable blocks (organizational, personal, emotional, financial, etc.) might prevent you from reaching your goals?
* What might you lose or leave behind if you were to make a significant career change, for a better situation? (Personal, practical, emotional, financial, status, etc.)
* Do you know what your career goal or objective is (short-term and long-term)? If so, have you written it down?
* What is the primary motivator/driver in your career? Has this been consistent, or has it changed?
* How will you know when you are on the right track – when you've "arrived?"

As you move through the career transition process, try to keep in mind the following words of career wisdom:

"People don't succeed by migrating to a 'hot' industry or by adopting a particular career-guiding mantra. They thrive by focusing on the question of who they really are, and connecting that to the work they truly love. The choice isn't about a career search so much as an identity quest." Po Bronson, "What Should I Do With My Life?"

Copyright © 2012, Career Potential, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2011, Career Potential, LLC. Reprinted by permission of Ford R. Myers, a nationally-known Career Expert and author of “Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring.” Download your free career success gifts now at http://www.careerbookbonuses.com.

Author's Bio: 

Ford R. Myers is President of Career Potential, LLC. Since 1992, he has been providing professional services in career consulting and executive coaching. After counseling thousands of individuals on their careers, Ford drew from his diverse experience to create Career Potential – a powerful new approach to career management.