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How Do I Figure Out My Career Path?


Deciding on a career path can be a daunting prospect, especially if you aren’t sure yet of where you want to go. Having a starting point is half the battle, but you also want to know if that start will get you anywhere – and if where it leads is somewhere that you want to go. Here’s how to figure out your career path.

Figure out your dream

Imagine that in twenty years’ time, you are invited to a reunion at your old school. Everyone is excited to hear what you have been up to for all this time, and what you do for a living now. Think about an answer which you would be excited and proud to give them. Aim as high as you like – make yourself a brain surgeon, a published writer with adoring fans, a self-made millionaire with your own business. The answer that makes your heart ache with longing is the one that’s right – it may even be the answer that you have barely allowed yourself to imagine because it seems so far off. You have the rest of your life to achieve it, so don’t sell yourself short.

Work the path backwards

Look at your dream ending and figure out the steps that lead there. Before you can become a brain surgeon, you first need to be a licensed doctor. Before you can be a doctor, you need to be a resident, and to be a resident requires training in medical school. It might be that before medical school, you need to work part-time in retail to retake some other exams.
If you want to be a CEO, first you would need to be an executive, and before that a member of senior management. Depending on the size of the company, you would need to be a regional manager first, and before that a manager of one store or office. Then before that you need to be an assistant manager, and before that, a worker on the shop floor.
You can work any career backwards until you get to the point where you are today.

Figure out your requirements

What will it take to travel this career path? Will you need to take on another part-time job to make ends meet while you are on the bottom rung? Do you need more training? Would a loan get you started? Will you have to work late nights and weekends? Will you need to give up your social life and the possibility of starting a family until you are further along the path? Think about what it will really take to travel this career path for the rest of your life, and ask yourself if you are prepared to do it. If the answer isn’t an automatic yes, you might want to think again.

Be flexible

Remember that career paths don’t always go in one straight line. You might end up side-stepping to a similar branch of the same industry, and find yourself on a new path. You might change your mind and go for something else entirely. That’s fine – your career doesn’t have to be decided right now. If you are working towards something that you think you want for the moment, that’s enough. The rest, you can work out as you move forward.

Don’t worry too much about finding the perfect career path right now. If you follow these steps and get an answer that feels right, then you’re ready to get started. If in ten years something feels different, that’s fine – and it most likely will!

Corinne Ledling is a businesswoman who’s very passionate about her job. She’s a Content Manager at and loves to share career tips and tricks and her work experience.

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