Find your fit
It's also important to perform a skills assessment (dozens can be found online for free) to help identify career options based on your areas of interest.
"Is the job aligned with your interests, not necessarily the skills you have, but the ones you'd like to use?" asks Lynn Berger, a New York City-based career coach. "You want your work to be in line with your values, personality and temperament."
Robert Hellmann, of Hellmann Career Consulting in New York, says any occupation you're considering should bring you closer to your long-term goals.
"Prioritize the things that you can't compromise on," he says, such as making a certain amount of money per year or being your own boss.
Next, conduct market research to determine whether the jobs you're considering are in a growth field and what the day-to-day responsibilities include. Many jobs (such as forensic investigator or owning a bakery) appear glamorous on TV, but the reality is often more mundane.
Think, too, about any transferable skills you have that may provide an easy transition into a related, but different, field -- thus mitigating the impact of having to start from the bottom. That may include computer skills, project-management success, strong negotiating skills or a detail-oriented personality.
"When it's a related line of work, you can make the transition faster," Hellmann says.