Where do you see yourself professionally in five years? 10 years? What about 20 years from now? You may have given some thought to your five-year career plan since it’s a common question in job interviews and performance reviews, but what about long term? 

Career progression involves a strategy. While some may stumble upon their dream job later in life, relying on serendipity may not be the best career strategy. Just like anything else in life, your career has a beginning and an end—and it’s what you do in between that determines where you’ll end up. So, why not map it out making sure your unique interests are factored into the equation?

The secret to career happiness is not found in a job that pays more money or offers higher status (though both are nice). It’s doing the thing you love to do and being able to make a living doing it. Confucius summarized it well: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Something to ponder.

So, how do map out your career? It doesn’t have to be complicated. Start with a sheet of paper noting where you are in your career today (point A) and where you want to end up (point B). If you don’t know what your point B is yet, start by making a list of your talents, strengths, interests and ideal job dynamics. Then begin researching jobs that you think might fit the bill. You may not find an exact match, but understanding what types of jobs mirror your personality and interests is key to finding out.

Next, make a list of your current skills, training and experience and another list of the skills, training and experience relevant to your dream job. If you’re newer in your career, the gap might feel more like a vast chasm—but that’s okay. Your goal is to identify the strategic path of jobs that will keep you moving in the direction of your ideal job. There are all sorts of career planning tools that can help you identify those jobs in between point A and point B. Here’s an example of one career mapping tool that can help you get started.

The more strategic you are about your career goals, the more successful you will be in achieving them!