"Pay peanuts - get Monkeys"
Recruiters know that the top 1% of executives reach the peak because they clarified their career goals early and as a result worked to a plan; they set targets and made each job a step on a career path towards their chosen destination. If you can't easily answer this common interview question: "Ten years from now, what do you want to be doing every day?" you haven't got an adequate career plan - and it's never too late to write one.
On the other hand it's astonishing how many senior executives we meet who are frustrated, demoralised or bewildered about how their careers are going and the reason is nearly always the same, they don't have a proper plan and therefore have no idea of how they are doing, even when they are doing well. Planning is something we all do in business and no need to give the principles of successful planning here, except to say that caree plans span much longer time-frames than business plans do.
Be honest (with yourself) about where and at what stage in life you would like your career to peak; as everyones does eventually, and plan accordingly. Don't make the very common mistake of building a hopelessly unrealistic career plan that only ever involves going upwards; all careers reach a peak eventually and smart people plan where and when they want to be in life when their career starts to take a back seat.
1) Where are you now? Self assessment is key; why are you thinking about a career change? Do you understand and accept what you really want from your career. Choose your own goals - don't accept those imposed on you from family, peers, friends. Identify and itemise your strengths; people doing something they enjoy tend to do better - what do you enjoy doing the most?
2) Where do you want to go? More money? Or more responsibility? It's not always that simple; sadly too many people go for the next big role simply because they need more money, not because it's a role they really want. Is that you? Maybe it's more family time you need? Or maybe it's the right time to start your own business? How about a portfolio of non-executive or consultancy roles?
3) Open doors Only when you know where you are going can you seriously start to market yourself. Itemise your achievements, re-write that CV, get interview advice, start networking, get noticed!
4) Negotiate, resign, start work Research potential employers, check salary, tax, contract details and more.
Feel free to explore the resources available here - we have found some good self assessment tools to check your personality type, motivation and more. There are a lot more resources online.