Official 5-Step Guide

Thinking about your future? Wondering how you’re going to get that dream job? Here are five tips to help you figure out what to do to get there.

Most people have a general idea about what they want to do with their lives and where they want their careers to go. But only some know how to get there.

It’s easy to fantasize about the future: You want the big C-suite office on the top floor. You want a beautiful home, a family, a dog, etc.
To achieve those goals, you must map out the path to help you get there.

Define Your Dream Job

Most people know which industry they want to work in. But you should also have a vision of the job you want to do in that industry.

What is your dream job? How far do you want to go in your professional life?

If you’re interested in medicine, do you want to be a brain surgeon? Or, is your goal to become a medical assistant? If your industry is finance, do you want to be an accountant or the CFO of a Fortune 500 company?

You can hone in on your primary career goal by thinking of how high you want to climb the ladder in your industry.

When defining your main objective, consider how technology might affect your field. For example, if you’re an aspiring bookstore owner, opening a brick-and-mortar bookstore might not be competent. Depending on where you live, you may want to focus on building an e-commerce empire instead.

The best way to get a feel for what lies ahead in your industry is to talk to someone already successful in the field. While they won’t be able to predict the future, they’re likely to better understand the trends and how the industry is evolving.

Break Your Main Goal into Small Goals

Once you’ve defined your end goal, you should list incremental goals. You’ll need to achieve these smaller goals to reach your overall objective.

Think about the steps it’ll take you to achieve your dream job. Research the types of education you’ll need. What entry-level job should you be doing if you want to advance in the industry? How do you build a resume to help you get in the front door?

One thing you should do is research the people who’ve achieved similar goals. Read biographies and look at LinkedIn profiles. If you can figure out how other people got into the position that you aspire to, you can use their careers as a roadmap.

Make a clear, concise list of small goals. Your list might be short (3-4 things) or long (10-12). It all depends on how lofty your main objective is.

Ultimately, this helps you break your considerable career into shorter, more actionable tasks.

Decide if Your Goals Are Realistic

It’s okay to dream big. But it’s important to be pragmatic about your goals.

Ask yourself:

Do I have the finances and resources to make this dream come true?

 For example, if you want to be a heart surgeon, can you afford years of college and medical school? or you want to join a cosmetology school. If you want to be a famous movie star, are you prepared to juggle auditions while working to pay the bills?

Remember, goals and dreams aren’t the same. Goals are actionable. You can take steps to meet them. It’s essential to recognize that not every dream is an attainable goal.

You must be realistic when defining your career goals. With unrealistic ambitions, you’ll only set yourself up for disappointment.

Create a Timeline

With a series of small, realistic steps in mind, it’s time to create a timeline. Look at your list and decide how long it will take you to accomplish each one.

For example, if graduating from college is on your list, set a deadline for graduation. Then, set a deadline for when you want to land your job in your field. Set a separate deadline for any post-college education or specialized training you’ll need.

Having predetermined timelines can help you stick to your objectives. Timelines make it easy to monitor your progress and keep you on track to reach the milestones needed to land that dream job.

Get Ready to Take Action

Now that you’ve defined realistic goals and created a timeline, you can implement your plan.

Don’t look at your list like a vision board. Instead, treat it as a calendar. This is important if you want to follow and complete each step by a specific time.

Converting your list into an actual calendar may be helpful. By doing that, you can break your small goals into even smaller ones to keep yourself on track daily.

Defining your career goals is essential for personal and professional growth. Here's an official 5-step guide to help you define and achieve your career goals:

Step 1: Self-Assessment

Purpose: Understand your strengths, weaknesses, values, and interests.
  1. Identify Your Skills and Strengths: List your technical skills, soft skills, and any unique abilities. Use tools like SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) to understand where you excel and where you need improvement.
  2. Reflect on Your Values and Interests: Determine what matters most to you in a career. Consider factors like work-life balance, job stability, income, and your passion.
  3. Personality Assessments: Use assessments like Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the Holland Code (RIASEC) to gain insights into careers that align with your personality.

Step 2: Research Career Options

Purpose: Explore different career paths and opportunities.
  • Industry Research: Investigate various industries that interest you. Look at job growth projections, salary ranges, and industry trends.
  • Job Shadowing and Informational Interviews: Gain firsthand insights by shadowing professionals in your field of interest or conducting informational interviews.
  • Online Resources and Networking: Use online resources like LinkedIn, industry forums, and career websites to gather information about different careers.

Step 3: Set SMART Goals

Purpose: Establish clear, actionable, and measurable career goals.
  • Specific: Clearly define what you want to achieve. For example, "I want to become a project manager in the tech industry."
  • Measurable: Set criteria for measuring progress. For instance, "I will complete a project management certification within the next six months."
  • Achievable: Ensure your goal is realistic given your current situation and resources.
  • Relevant: Align your goals with your long-term career aspirations and values.
  • Time-bound: Set a deadline for achieving your goal. For example, "I aim to secure a project manager role within the next two years."

Step 4: Create an Action Plan

Purpose: Develop a step-by-step plan to achieve your career goals.
  • Break Down Goals: Divide your main goal into smaller, manageable tasks. For example, if your goal is to become a project manager, your tasks might include obtaining relevant certifications, gaining experience through volunteer projects, and networking with professionals.
  • Set Deadlines: Assign deadlines to each task to keep yourself on track.
  • Identify Resources: Determine what resources you need, such as courses, mentorship, or financial support.

Step 5: Monitor and Adjust Your Goals

Purpose: Continuously evaluate your progress and make necessary adjustments.
  • Regular Reviews: Schedule regular check-ins (e.g., monthly or quarterly) to assess your progress.
  • Flexibility: Be prepared to adjust your goals as you gain more experience or as circumstances change.
  • Seek Feedback: Get feedback from mentors, peers, or supervisors to stay on track and make informed adjustments.
  • Summary
Defining your career goals is a dynamic process that involves self-assessment, research, goal setting, action planning, and continuous monitoring. By following this 5-step guide, you'll be better equipped to navigate your career path and achieve your professional aspirations.

Keep in mind:

It’s okay if you’re unable to reach a specific mini-goal.

But that may mean you’ll need to reevaluate your end goal. Along the way, you’ll learn new things and can adjust your plan accordingly.
The key is to keep your plan realistic and attainable at all times.


The key to defining your career goals is to figure out and follow the steps.

Start by defining your dream job. Break that down into smaller goals so you know what steps you’ll have to take along the way.

With a list of small steps, review your list to make sure that each one is realistic and attainable. Then, create a timeline of when you want to complete each step of your plan.

Lastly, put your plan into action. Start working on each small goal one step at a time. Be patient and learn as much as possible along the way.

Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to securing that dream job.