Who doesn’t want a better career? We all do or at least half of us. 52.3% of those who were surveyed by the Conference Board, the New York-based nonprofit research group claimed they are unhappy at work according to a recent report.

People take a look at their lives and realize they just aren’t where they want to be in life. Sometimes it’s because of the business of life and other times it’s because we are too lazy to take another step; we’re comfortable.

The truth is, neither are good excuses. Life will never slow down and until you take charge of your life, you’ll be stuck repeating the same habits. Whether you’re just starting out or you are midway through your professional life, these tips will help you chart your path. Here are 3 steps to take toward your dream career!

Define what motivates you

A Social Forces study revealed only 6% of adults ended up in the careers they dreamt about as kids. What was it that you dreamt about doing? While not being a fairy princess or a cowboy isn’t cause for concern the fact that almost 60% of all working adults want a new career is. Add to that the 40% of these people aren’t sure what they would like to pursue next. Clearly defining your motivators is a problem that few are addressing.

Take the time to examine what you need out of a career and then go further into what you really want. Do you want to be promoted? Want to switch departments, companies or even industries? Is your job the right activity in the wrong location? Is it the perfect salary and benefits but with no alignment to your work values or personality traits?

You need to take time, research and make a decision. Discover what about your dream job attracts you and start there. Perhaps the young lady that wanted to be an astronaut, really wants to fly and the young man who wanted to be a rock star enjoys performing in front of an audience. Pay close attention to these small indicators.


Once you have decided what the end goal is, now is the time to plan! Writing it down will definitely help you in this process. Write down the goal and work backward, reducing the goal into smaller tactical steps. For example, if your goal is to be a VP of the company you currently work for. What does the current crop of VPs look like? Do they have tenure or come from the outside? Are they all ambitious and highly focused? Or did they have to be persuaded to take the job? Work all the way back until you end up where you are right now. If you can map from your current location to an amalgam of all the company’s current VPs work values, you may see specific steps that need to be taken. Write them down and refer to them consistently. Performance reviews and annual planning are a good time to reference these goals and tactical steps toward achieving them.

Small Steps

“Some people approach goal setting with incredible ambition but little patience, so they try to squeeze many years’ worth of goals into a single year or less.”

It is important to take small steps while in the process of achieving your goal. If you followed my instructions, above, then you should have no problem taking the required steps to make your dream career a reality. Consistency often reveals greater rewards than hopping from one position to the next with no real plan.

The other important factor is try not to get discouraged. Most things in life never happen in the time we want so it’s important to be patient. It’s also imperative to avoid tunnel vision around your “perfect career”. A career that is right for you can come along right in the middle of your plan. If you focus on doing great work in every position, it may show up even sooner than you feel you’re ready!