Oooh, that’s a tough one. I would avoid life coaches, yeah, but beyond that I don’t have much advice to offer. If you google for very generic terms like “career change” or such, you may find some helpful online articles — looking for reading rather than looking for in-person help sometimes helps me get a clearer idea of what I actually wish to find.
Two books I see bandied about a lot for job advice, but which I’ve never read, are Who Moved My Cheese and What Color Is Your Parachute. I know a lot of people who SWEAR by What Color Is Your Parachute. Wikipedia makes Who Moved My Cheese sound dreadfully condescending, but it might still be worth a shot. You never know where inspiration will come from.
You might also google around for aptitude tests. Online quizzes are worth what you pay for them, but at least they might help you sort out what you’re looking for.
A while ago I took the Johnson O’Connor Aptitude Test at the behest of my parents. It’s not cheap; it is comprehensive in that they test many different skills, and my mum had it done when she was in her thirties and really learned a lot about herself from the results, which helped her when she wanted to re-enter the workforce. I can’t speak to its accuracy since some of their results when it came to me were depressing and some were laughable. Some of the tests they give you are easier to “game” than others and it turns out that my automatic tendency to game this kind of test because of my horrible competitive streak skewed my results insanely. I can barely do any math past basic addition, I loathe numbers and find budget work absolutely stultifying, and they were telling me I should be an accountant because I was good at pattern recognition. (I wasn’t — I was using memory tricks.) I basically scored high in two areas: insanely boring shit I never want to go near, and “vocabulary”, neither of which were helpful. So, mixed results on that front.
Not knowing what you want to do for a living is a terrible, drifting sensation, and people will attempt to capitalize on that — it’s one of those fields that’s just full of sharks sniffing for blood. Good luck :/ I wish I had more answers for you.
Not saying you necessarily want to go to a community college (though they often have helpful hours for people working and doing school) but talking to a counselor at a local community college could be really helpful. It’s their job to talk to perspective and current students and help them find a path. I say community college some because they’re going to (in general) be more willing to talk to perspective students and returning students. Universities of course may be another place to look.
Let me though amend all of the above though with this: THE COUNSELORS MAY NOT KNOW ALL THE PROGRAMS WELL ENOUGH TO ADVISE YOU. Right now is also a good time to look for open houses being held at Universities and CC. They will not only have counselors and admission people but also a number of different fields you can stop by and get information for. I’m focusing on schools here because you said you wanted to return.
If you have a few areas you’re looking at specifically or even just out of curiosity you can also talk to that college/division/department/program head directly and they’ll have the best information. Of course be careful of someone trying to blatantly sell you on something that seems to good to be true. Every program has it’s good and it’s bad and as much as it’s their job to get you as a student, they also need to be honest with you.
Another good place to start is looking at salaries AND the different names positions/fields might be called. glassdoor.com has salary information and even better you may have state based information. For example Texas has a whole page (http://www.twc.state.tx.us/) about current salaries in the states, growth stats, and a bunch of other things that could be helpful with looking at different fields. Always be sure to look at what jobs want what level of degrees though. Just because you can earn x amount in a field doesn’t mean you can do that if all you want is your associate’s.
I’m not Copperbadge but hopefully this helps a little!