The first of the year is always a great time to take a moment and explore where you are in your job or career and entertain taking steps to change your direction. And yet, for every one person who takes a moment to consider their next steps, there are ten others who never actually take the plunge.

So why is this? Perhaps its because the road to a new career is pock-marked with any number of hazards and missteps. Or maybe friends and family question your thinking, or fail to understand your yearning for more satisfaction in your job.

Or maybe, you haven’t taken some time to really understand yourself, your strengths and how to leverage them into a career or job where you’ll find more satisfaction.

This might sound like a tall order, especially if you don’t know, or can’t afford a good, qualified career coach. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are five steps you can take now to jump the gap between yearning for a new career and actually having one.

  1. Make sure you now why you are looking for a new direction. Often we mistake feeling the need for more money for much deeper dissatisfactions with our jobs and careers.   Research report after research report confirms that an increase in salary rarely results in greater job satisfaction. You need a clear-eyed, deep understanding of just what is really dissatisfying to you before you can honestly search for a new direction.
  1. Understand your unique personal strengths. This involves looking at your personality type, work style preferences and skills and talents. This needs to be an honest assessment of who you really are at your core, not wishful thinking about who you want to be.
  1. Identify a new career direction that plays to your strengths. Making the investment of time and money required to change careers will be wasted if you end up in a new position that doesn’t leverage who you really are.
  1. Do your homework. Reach out to people who already work in your target career and find out what their world is really like.   Make sure you understand the realities of the work that you have identified before you take the leap. This should include education and training required, expected salary range and of course, understanding the unique challenges that come with any career or job
  1. Build your network. As you make connections in your chosen field, turn them into relationships that help both of you. If you come across an interesting article on a topic you’ve discussed, email it to your contact.   Remember, a relationship is a two way street.

Where to start right now?   Our product, Strengths for Success™ has been developed to increase the return on your new job or career search efforts by helping you developed a solid understanding of your personality type, work style preferences and unique skills and talents. Then we help you match your unique strengths to careers and jobs where people like you have been successful.   You can dig deeply into careers to understand just what is required to succeed and explore future earning potential. When you’re ready to start networking and looking for a new position, you can search for opportunities with our free job search tool.

If you’re thinking of a New Year’s resolution that involves a new job or career, check out Strengths for Success as a great starting point.