I would like to begin by saying that I am not a snake oil salesman. I have no smoke and mirrors and no outrageous claims that you can make a gazillion dollars in a week by doing nothing. I can't even impress you with eloquent prose, a killer sales pitch or a shopping list of celebrity testimonials.

What I can provide is a proven, no-frills strategy to get you out of your current career funk and moving in a more positive direction.

I must warn you though. This process requires you to work hard and believe that you are worthy of happiness and success. If you can bring those things, I have the means to bring you the rest of the way.

Are you ready? Then let's begin.

I have been working as a career practitioner for many years and the people that come into my office fall into one of two categories; 1.) those who do not have a job, and want one or 2.) those who have a job, but don't want the one they have. My job is to help them transition from where they are to where they want to be.

Now that may seem like a straight-forward process, but the road between one's starting point and end goal can be hard to navigate with lots of dead-ends, wrong turns, obstacles and challenges. In fact, many career transitions fail because people begin their journey unprepared and not really knowing in which direction they want to go.

Pretend you are going on vacation. Usually you would start with a destination in mind. Then you would book accommodations, figure out what mode of transportation is going to get you there (maybe even plot the trip on your GPS), pack your things, etc. You do these things to maximize your odds of your vacation running smoothly and increasing your happiness. Why is it then that we put more planning into our vacations than we do our vocations?

When it comes to careers, some of us fall into opportunities while others never get the breaks. Most of us settle somewhere in-between. However, if you take the time to study how successful people get where they are, it is usually because they had a solid plan and they worked very, very hard to get where they are. Now when I say "successful people", I do not equate that with wealth. Success is a subjective measure that a person must establish for themselves.

What does "success" mean to you? Is it happiness, security, contributing to society, power, popularity, mastering your craft or having more money than you know what to do with? Maybe you want it all.

Before you start on your career journey, you need to know where you are going (what type of career are you pursuing) and how will you know when you get there (did you obtain your definition of success)? If you haven't figured these things out, you had better be prepared for a very tough trek through the wilderness.

I'll assume you have some ideas about where you want to go. If not, no worries, why not tag along for the ride with me a little longer and maybe things might become a little clearer?

Just as a GPS can save you from getting lost, here is a 5 step process that will help you plot your way through the labor market and hopefully get you to your destination in style.

Step 1: Identify your interests. You can use online interest inventories, but the easiest way is to keep a log of all the things you enjoy doing for the next 2 weeks. They do not have to be career-related. In fact, the secret to having a job you love is doing something you would do for free! Now the goal is for you to get paid for doing what you love, but start with your interests and not what you perceive as a lucrative vocation.

Step 2: Matching your interests to career options. The key to this step is research, research, research. Seek out a qualified career coach or employment counselor as they can save you a lot of time with this step. The goal is to find career options that can satisfy as many of your interests (see step 1) as possible. When you find career options that fill most of your bucket list, you are on the right track.

Step 3: Let's pretend you found a couple of really exciting careers opportunities. Now it's time to pack for your trip (aka, the Action Plan). Do you have the required skills and experience or do you need to take specialized training? Are there currently jobs in the field? What are your timelines for getting your goal? There are many other questions that will require answers and things you will have to plan for but a word to the wise;don't take shortcuts and have a solid plan before you invest any time or money into this endeavor.

Step 4: We'll skip ahead and assume you needed some career-specific training. While you are acquiring your technical skills do not forget to hone nine very important skills that will help you not only land your next job, but they are critical in getting your next promotion too. In no particular order the are; reading, writing, numeracy, critical thinking/problem solving, oral communication, document use/following instructions, teamwork, computer literacy and willingness to be a lifelong learner. These have been categorized as Essential Workplace Skills by the Government of Canada (Google it!). This is the fine tuning that will get you noticed over your competition-guaranteed!

Step 5: Professional marketing. You have worked hard to gain all the skills you require to succeed in your chosen career. The truth is, employers will not be fighting over you unless you give them a reason to. It's all about how you market yourself to potential employers. You need well designed marketing tools and have a well thought out game plan when you are networking. Again, spend some time with a qualified career practitioner will really help you with this process.

So that's it. Five steps stand between where you are now and where you want to be. This is a proven, time honored process that gets results. Stick to this plan, put the required work into getting your goal and above all, do not give up and you will achieve success!

For more information and free resources visit www.setyourownpace.org. No strings attached and I'm not selling you anything. I just want you to have a map to help you succeed. Good luck on your journey!

Author's Bio: 

Steve Carle is an employment counselor and project coordinator that specializes in building career planning resources and training programs. He is currently employed by the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour with the Province of New Brunswick (Canada). He has over 15 years of experience and training in this field. The community-based projects and resources available for free to the public can be seen at www.careersthatwork.ca.