In my first post, I covered how to accurately assess the current state of your career. Tool #2 will help you create a linear map of your career path.
When I began teaching career planning, I thought a career path was something you followed that was laid out by your organizational or company structure. I have since found that it is more useful to view one’s career path as what has already happened. You have been on a path that has all the work, education, and life experiences that have happened for you since you left college
For Tool #2, take a piece of paper and mark on the left side a point that is the year of your college graduation. Draw a line straight across the page to the point that is the current year. Mark equal increments on this line so that you have ten time periods to divide your career into. Now fill in the information for each time period about where you were, what you were doing related to work, school, and family. Put in as much detail as you can. This tool is great to revisit any time you are thinking again about your future plans.
This detailed accounting of what jobs you have done and why you left, or what you did during school and what your family situation has done to change your work is an understanding of your career path. You will begin to see what you love to do, what you are good at, and what you have relied on to earn a living. I started my career teaching junior high math and 50 years later find myself as the director of learning resources for a financial services company. It has not been a steady up-trending line; there have been ups and downs, breaks and new beginnings. The past has been a career path; the future is a career plan.
Stay tuned next week for the final chapter in this series, Defining Your Core Career Plan.