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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.

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!

 Decide Where You Want To Go

 Fill in the Intermediary Steps


 Figure Out the First Step


 Determine What Resources You'll Need




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