When you have a job you love, you are most likely a consistent, cheerful, and outstanding performer. Everyone around you thinks you are a genius, but you are just doing what you love and do best. Financial security is not a major issue. But what if your profession faces severe budget jeopardy or you get laid off?

First, you must understand the big picture for the profession. The smaller size of Generation X is going to increase the demand for training exponentially over the next 15 years. On average, Generation X employees will be accepting management jobs 10 years younger than their baby boomer predecessors, so they will need to learn quickly.

Second, you must consider whether you want to continue your career as a learning professional, or if it is time to pursue a career road not yet traveled. In either case, you need to identify the characteristics of a job that would be ideal for you. Think not about what you would like, but what you would love to do. Your next job should be one you can love, not just tolerate.

Clarify the characteristics of your ideal job by examining the period when you really loved what you were doing professionally. What was the subject matter - hands-on training or instructional design? Was the organization small or large? Was its scope local, regional, national, or international? What is an ideal role for you - manager or subject matter expert? What duties do you love best - writing, speaking, or problem solving? Do you prefer working 24 hours a day and seven days a week, 40 to 60 hours, or part-time? Do you want to work in an office, at home, or both? What would be an ideal salary and benefits package? Who is the type of supervisor you want to work for - someone who gives you a long leash or lets you check in often? Or is it time to hang out your own shingle?

Once you are clear about the job's characteristics, it is time to look into your network for someone who is knowledgeable about what you may want to do. Ask to meet him for an informational interview - not for a job. The purpose of the interview is to discover where your ideal job exists and to get the names of three people who are experts within your area of interest. Eventually, you will ask for advice and notice that the person you are asking is starting to interview you. When that person responds positively to your ideal job characteristics, then you can sit down happily in a chair when it is offered.