There's nothing like the beginning of a new year to cause you to stop and reflect on where you are in life. Especially after coming back from a holiday break. It can be a rude awakening if you're unhappy in any situation--including your work. We spend so much time working, it only makes sense that liking your job, at least on some level, has a huge effect on your overall happiness.

I love my job now. However, I've had a couple of experiences in the past when I had to "wake up" and admit to myself that I was not where I wanted to be. The problem was, I felt stuck. I had no idea how to extricate myself from the situation, especially when maintaining financial solvency was such a high priority.

However, there is hope. Although it may be tempting to ponder the idea of just up and quitting and sailing toward some as of yet unknown happier land of employment bliss, the reality is, the process is usually much more effective if you set some goals and focus on taking small steps, though consistently, to making a change.

Marti Fischer is a career adviser, based in New York, who specializes in career transition, as well as leadership development. She outlines a few tips for smoothly working toward a career transition that have, in her experience, been proven.

Some of what she suggests is as follows:

Like with most changes you want to make in life, you'll want to set a goal. This is where it all begins. Take a moment and write down, in detail, what you'd rather be doing--even if it is within the same company. What would your title and/or role be? What would you be doing on a daily basis? What kind of corporate culture resonates well with your personality?

You've heard this before, but start working your professional network. Look for people who do what you'd like to do and get some feedback from them. You'd be surprised who you know and to whom they may be connected. Ask questions. People often surprise us with their willingness to help.

She suggest starting to "cultivate a toolbox." What does that mean? Well, when's the last time you really spent some time updating and modernizing your resume? Spruce up that LinkedIn profile. Make sure it's as complete as possible and list your skills and interests. Hey, part of what LinkedIn is designed to do is to help you connect with people in the industry you'd like to join. Ask for recommendations. Be brave.

Schedule actual time in your planner to work toward your goal. Yes, writing it down is important, of course. However, what really matters is taking action. Put this time in your calendar and treat it like it's a part of your job--because it is. Start exploring possibilities and reaching out to potential employers or partners.

I've noticed that anytime I take deliberate action toward any goal, however small the step may be, doors seem to open and possibilities emerge I would've never seen at the beginning of my process. Go for it. What do you have to lose except a job you're ready to leave anyway?

"Fortune favors the bold." --Virgil, Roman poet