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
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
And don't forget to write it all down!