Knowing your career goals and desired career path is the first step to success. To chart out a realistic and achievable career path for yourself, you can take either of the following approach:
1. Think about the long term goals and chalk out steps to achieve it.
Think about where you want to finally reach at the pinnacle of your career and by when. Then backtrack to find what kind of exposure you need, what are the positions you should strive for and by when. Don’t guess here, talk to people who are or have been in the position or a career path professional. E.g. if you want to be a Managing director or a CEO, you need exposure in both Sales as well as Marketing. So your career path needs to account for experience in both these domains. Similarly, for your desired role figure out what kind of exposure you need to have and backtrack accordingly to build a long term career plan.
2. Plan out short-term career goals and figure out the branching possibilities
If you are not the kind of person who has the next 20 years planned out & knows exactly what s/he want to be, it’s okay. However you do need to know what direction you are heading in. In other words you may not have any particular vision for a final career goal, but you can make a career plan by deciding your immediate 3-5 year career goals and knowing the future possibilities for it.
Realistically where would you want to or where can you reach in a couple of years down the road (till whenever you have visibility) – this is your short-term career goal. Evaluate it on basis of what career opportunities it can open up for you in the future. If this short – term career goal isn’t opening up opportunities, re-think, find alternatives and repeat this process until you are satisfied. Ideally you should select a short-term career goal that opens up maximum opportunities for growth in future or one that you are quite passionate about and can sustain for a long period of time.
There is a lot of material out there claiming one way is better than the other, but both have their merit and pitfalls. Choose the one that you identify with and it will work for you. There is no right or wrong in this. No matter which kind of career goals you have, you will have to keep revisiting it and making adjustments and accommodate changes.
The important thing is to know where you are heading and plan for it accordingly so that you don’t stop learning or stretching yourself outside the comfort zone. If we become complacent about our career path, usually career stagnation takes over. Click here to read about more ways to beat career stagnation.