Every person and every business goes through transitions — often many transitions over the course of a life.

With all of the changes to our world, almost all of us are going through a transition — personal, career or with our business. Some of you are redefining your career, or your business, voluntarily or otherwise.

The hardest part of such a transition can be the first step; what is the first step? How do I get started? Having a generic framework upon which to build your transition can help.

I was facing a major career decision years ago, and I developed a framework that worked well for me, in fact, surprisingly well. Since then I have shared it with many. So whether you are rethinking your business or looking for a new career, consider these steps:

Create three lists:

What am I good at? Or, what is my business good at? Start what you know, personally, to be the strengths. Buy don’t stop there. Ask your friends, your former bosses, your employees, your customers and suppliers. Be open to hearing things you are not anticipating. You want the truth, and that may be different than what you expect.

What am I passionate about? Keeping in mind that 99% of the people in this world do not have the luxury of being passionate about their work, being passionate about what you spend so much time doing is a big bonus. Not only does it make the work more pleasant, but it often helps you do a better job. Also add to this list things you think you could get passionate about. Passion can be a decision as well.

What are the needs in the marketplace? When making this list, pay particular attention to new and emerging trends. It is likely that changes in the marketplace precipitated the making of these lists in the first place. Turn those changes into opportunities. Are the customers changing? Are the methods of delivery changing (as in more online delivery)? Are your competitors different? Are rules and laws evolving? But even static conditions present opportunities. Look for niches that are not adequately being addressed. Again, ask others. Many people notice needs but do not act on them and will be willing to share.

Take all three lists and lay them side-by-side. Review them informally. Look for commonality. Look for things you might have overlooked. Look for trends. Write down anything noteworthy.

To be real thorough, look at the first strength you listed on the first list, and compare it with each item on your second list. Where do your passions complement your strengths? For instance, if you like public speaking and you are good at it, it would suggest an opportunity. Then compare that strength with each item on the third list. Maybe you are good at public speaking and there is a need for trainers in your area of expertise.

Do these comparisons until each item on each list has been juxtaposed with every item on the other two lists. Where there are two items that work together well, that is an opportunity worth pursuing. Where a strength aligns with a passion that aligns with a need in the marketplace, you may have a home run. For example, if you are passionate about public speaking, and you are good at public speaking, and there is a need for trainers, you might have found your next calling.

This process can be a lot of work, but the outcome can be incredibly valuable. Think of it as planning for a new journey. It helps you chose a destination. Actually traveling to that destination — by finding a new job or reforming your business — is the real work that lies ahead.

Dave Bartholomew is retired after a career as a business adviser to leaders around the world. He and his wife Nancy also owned Simply Living Farm, a retailer of goods for a sustainable life. Prior to that he was CEO of several manufacturing companies in the outdoor recreation industry. He has authored three books, written numerous regular columns and taught at many universities. He can be reached at dave@ascentadvising.com.