Where do you want to be in five years from now? What are your career goals? Don’t worry, this isn’t a job interview, I really want to know. Do you know how you’re going to get there?

It’s frustrating when you know where you want to be in your career, but don’t know quite how to get there. When you look at the big picture, it’s not easy to focus on the little details. A chunk of my career has involved helping others to plan for their future in small steps, and now I’m going to help you do the same. I’m delving into my Person Centred Planning and training needs analysis experience to give you the tools for reaching your career goals. I’m going to, loosely, use a planning tool called PATH to guide you towards your goal. So, to quote Ocean’s Twelve (I’m nothing if not topical), let me break it down for you like a fraction…

What’s your dream?

The sky’s the limit here. If you could be anyone, do anything, what would it be? Let your imagination run free! Go on, dream big, we’ll come back to reality soon so enjoy the ride while it lasts.

Career Goals

What’s the goal?

Ok, enough dreaming (for now). Where do you want to be in five years from now? Do you want to be a manager, head of department or running your own business? Would you like to chance professions? Write down what you want to be. If you have a particular company in mind, pop that down, too. If you’re not sure what you want to do, look at those dreams and pick out the most positive and possible goals from them. Get a couple of friends involved if you’re just not sure.

Where are you now?

This is an easy one. What do you do now? Are you employed, unemployed, freelance? Are you happy, discontented, bored, exhilarated or comfortable? Write it down. Those friends (ones that know you well) should be able to offer some insight here, too.

What skills do you need?

Will you need a qualification to reach your goal? Need to work on your people skills, time management or build your contacts? Do you need an excellent portfolio? These are all things you need to work on in the next five years.

Career Goals

Who can help?

Do you need a mentor? Someone to keep you on track? You’ll need some cheerleaders, too, friends you will support and encourage you along the way. Will you need someone to help with childcare while you go to night school or meetings? Would it help to talk to someone already doing the job you want? List these people, get them on board.

What do you need to do first?

Enrol to study a Masters Degree, join a professional organisation or find a mentor? Do you need to try to find a job in a more related industry? Start with small steps and don’t do anything too terrifying. It could be as simple as doing a bit of research into your goal, asking someone to help you write an awesome CV or having a chat with your manager about career progression.

Next steps

Now that you know where you are and what your career goals are, you can start to fill in the bits in between. Break it down into manageable chunks. Where should those first steps lead to in six months from now? What about a year’s time? In three years, you’ll want to be on a definite path towards your goal, what would that look like? Setting shorter-term goals will keep you motivated and give you something tangible to work towards.

Keep reviewing

Set a reminder on your phone to make sure you stick to those short term goals. Arrange to meet with those friends who said they’d support you. Get your plan out from time to time and tick off the things you’ve achieved and take a note of the ones you still need to do.

Celebrate when you reach a milestone, it’ll keep you focused and help you enjoy the journey.

Good luck!

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