Fill in the Intermediary Steps
After you’ve determined where you’d like to end up, take a look at where you are now and play “connect-the-dots,” making each step as specific as possible.
For instance, if you want to be a pediatrician, the necessary path is fairly straightforward: you’ll need to graduate from college, go to medical school, complete a residency in pediatrics, and find a permanent position with a clinic or practice.
Other career paths may be less clear. Say you’ve determined that in 10 years you want to start your own public relations agency. How does that break down?
Well, some steps are obvious. You’ll need a background in public relations, with increasing responsibility in each position. So your path might include an entry-level position with a PR company, followed by an account executive position, a management position, a director-level title, and then striking out on your own.
Not sure what a career path in your chosen field looks like? Then it’s time for some research on the Internet through professional organizations, or start networking and talk to others who have traveled your path before you.
If you don’t know for certain “what you want to be when you grow up,” you can still do some planning–just narrow the scope a bit. Instead of charting out 30 or 40 years, determine where you want to be in 5 years and break that timeline into smaller pieces.
And don’t forget to write it all down!