Step 1: What’s the right career path for you?

Career planning is not complicated, but it requires an honest assessment of your talents, goals, and dreams. Without taking inventory of what matters most, you could end up on a career path that’s not for you. Here are 10 questions that can help you determine what career path will bring you the greatest satisfaction and fulfillment:

  1. What profession do you find most fascinating?
  2. Are you currently working in the industry you want to be in?
  3. Where do your natural talents and interests lie?
  4. What are your unique skills and strengths?
  5. Do you enjoy working for an employer, or are you an entrepreneur at heart?
  6. What would make work the most fulfilling?
  7. If you could do anything at all, what would it be? Why?
  8. Do you need additional skills, education, or training to reach your goals?
  9. What skills and experience do you need to qualify for your dream job?
  10. What can you do right now to take the next step in your career?

Step 2: Consider where you’ve been and where you’re going.

Career planning is an insightful and exploratory exercise. It forces you to pause and consider the path that has led you to where you are today. Are you happy with the choices you’ve made so far? Are you on course to reach your ideal career destination? Here is a simple exercise that will help you connect the dots:

  1. Jot down all of the jobs you’ve held to date in chronological order.
  2. Draw a career map that shows each job and the progression of one position to the next. If it’s a lateral move, draw a straight line between the jobs, and if the position is above or below the last one held, show the upward or downward movement on your map.
  3. Take a big-picture view of your current career path. Consider what the next stepping stones in your career should be to reach your desired destination. If you’re unsure, do some online research to identify the skills and experience required for your end-goal position. Then search jobs that prepare you for that particular role.
  4. Now, add those jobs in that order to your career map leading up to your ideal position.
  5. For each job, make a list of the skills required to qualify for that position along the way. These will become your career goals for each position you hold. Be sure to update your map regularly to reflect any changes in your career path.
  6. Finally, post your career map in a place where you will see it every day. This will keep you focused on your goal and motivate you to tackle every challenge you encounter.