When you think it's time to move in a new career direction, ask yourself if it's the job that's really the problem.
Think about what it is you do every day. Are you still interested in the content of your job, the daily and weekly skills that you use? If so, then maybe your job discontent is related to the company where you work.
Sometimes businesses grow or merge or change leadership that leads to a change in culture or environment.You might have once been happy working for a small company where you had a wide variety of tasks, but now that the business has grown, your job may have become repetitive and a little boring. Maybe the hour-long commute was fine before you had children, but now you prefer to be home before they go to bed. All are reasons for considering a job change.
Just know the reasons you want to leave so that you can ask the right questions at the new job interviews.
If you think it's your job that's the problem, list the tasks you generally perform and mark those you like to do. If fewer than half of the tasks are checked, you probably will be happier with a new career direction. Maybe it's time to start that business you've always dreamed of, or join the non-profit that serves your political or cultural interests. Since you spend so many hours a week working, you should be doing something you like, if not love.
At the other extreme, you may have marked most of the job tasks as those you enjoy. Then the problem is something else: your colleagues, commute, boss, pay, opportunities to advance, etc. The task becomes to identify what needs to change so you don't end up in another job that doesn't meet your needs.
Think about your ideal job description, and then go looking for it. You'll come up with good interview questions if you know exactly what you want. The closer you can get to that ideal, the happier you're likely to be.
Don't consider job hunting as a "do-it-yourself" enterprise. It can be a lengthy process to find a new job. Find a colleague or friend who's also job hunting, or hire a career professional to help. The cost is worth the money invested if you find a job you love.
Dr. Jan Cannon, Job-Hunt's Mid-Life Career Expert, is author of Now What Do I Do? The Woman's Guide to a New Career, Find a Job: 7 Steps to Success, Finding a Job in a Slow Economy, co-author of Exceptional Accomplishment, and a career professional for 20 years. Visit her website, JobSearchDoctor.com, and circle Jan on Google+ for more career advice and help.