## How to Build Your Dream Career: A Beginner’s Guide
*By Chris Fontanella*
[![How to Build Your Dream Career](https://www.allbusiness.com/media-library/how-to-build-your-dream-career.jpg?id=32217493&width=1245&height=700&coordinates=0%2C0%2C0%2C0)](https://www.allbusiness.com/media-library/how-to-build-your-dream-career.jpg?id=32217493&width=1245&height=700&coordinates=0%2C0%2C0%2C0)
You’ve just started your career or are about to. Images dance in your head: you as the architect behind the hottest new app or video game; you as a New York Times best-selling author after writing your first book; you as the CEO of a media empire . . .YOU—the latest overnight success story to hit the scene.
I get it. We all want our name in lights.
## Dream Big but Plan on Measured Growth
The sooner you start dreaming big about your career the better. When it comes to your future, you should have awe-inspiring ambitions, ginormous goals, outsized objectives, and infinite intentions. Think big because exceptional career enterprises seldom spring from dainty dreams. Your aspirations can become a reality, if you truly want them to be—just don’t expect it to happen overnight.
Instead, take the advice offered by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson in their book *[Rework](https://www.amazon.com/Rework-Jason-Fried/dp/0307463745)*, telling us to “trade the dream of overnight success for slow, measured growth.” Many will choose quick success and become nothing. Few will choose the careful path, but those who do will more likely end up with a noteworthy career and future. This is because they are willing to advance step-by-step, a process implied in the words “career development.”
## 4 Steps to Progressive Career Development
1. Map out your area of exploration: Take the time to outline the territory you want to explore career-wise. The contours of your map can consist of almost anything: interests, desires, dreams, talents, hobbies, education, and experiences—whatever calls your name and tugs at your heart. Sketch them out, so to speak. They will help to hone in on where to begin your exploration. Time taken at this step will set the stage for you to unearth career treasures.
2. Bring a shovel: A perfect career awaits you, but finding it requires a willingness to dig, which is why you’ll need a shovel. Dream jobs and careers are seldom found in plain sight. More often than not, they must be excavated. So, a superficial approach to discovering the career you really want—an unwillingness to go deep and get below the surface—will not do. Career archeologists, those who want to have a noteworthy vocation, usually have dirt under their fingernails, an indication that they’ve been digging in the field of employment opportunities until they find the one they really want.
3. Be willing to make map amendments: When mapping out your territory of exploration, resist the temptation to tightly define your boundary lines. More than likely, changes to your map will need to be made. Some people think the bolder the lines, the more accurate the map. However, such map-making bravado is presumptive and does not allow for adaptations.
Absolute and rigid map lines—on paper and in your mind—are hard to erase, and you will find, as I have, that change (the whatnots that can happen on any given day) plays a role in map creation. As your career evolves, remain open to making map amendments. It’s the career-minded person’s equivalent of lather, rinse, repeat.
4. Expect obstacles: At the onset of your career and later stages, you will come across a plethora of problems that may hinder your progress. Instead of being deterred by such obstacles, consider what message they are sending. Are they confirmation that you are onto something and heading in the right direction? Or, is it time to reevaluate your path?
## Remember that Time is on Your Side
One of the greatest blessings you’ve been given is time. Most of us assume we have more time than we do and waste more of it than we should. Don’t waste it, but don’t be in a rush either. If you’re anything like I was when I commenced my career, you’ll want to get where you are going as soon as possible. Becoming an overnight success may sound exciting, but careers, like most things, develop at a less rapid rate and improve over time. Time is on your side whether you know it or not. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series was published years after her initial idea for the story.
A slow pace in developing your career should not be confused with a lack of success; slower, measured movements should not be considered inactivity. When British author Bernardine Evaristo won a major book award at age sixty, she joked that she was “an overnight success 40 years in the making.” While we may prefer the ease of a presumed overnight success, my suggestion is to let time work its magic, and don’t skip over the hard work that will clear the way for you to find—and ultimately appreciate—your career.
## Career Development FAQs
### How do I create a career timeline?
1. Map out an overarching theme for your career: Use your skills, values, interests, education, experiences, attention holders, and curiosities as map parameters.
2. Dig: Digging is a prerequisite to finding what you seek.
3. Make assessments as you dig: Initial map sketches are seldom final sketches. Do not be afraid to redefine your original map.
4. Continually reassess your employment topography: Analyze and reanalyze landscapes to see new angles and dimensions that escaped prior observation.
### Why is long-term career planning important?
By definition, a career is something that evolves and develops over a significant period of time. Your plan to develop a career must take that into consideration. Time is an essential ingredient for a career to become all you want it to be.
### Why is long-term career planning better than short-term?
Without a long-term plan for your career, you end up with a string of jobs that lack cohesion and an overarching theme that binds them all together.
### About the Author
*Chris Fontanella* is the founder of Encore Professionals Group, a professional services firm specializing in the identification and placement of accounting and finance candidates in temporary and full-time positions. He previously served as division director for Robert Half International and client service director for Resources Global Professionals. He is the author of *Jump-Start Your Career: Ten Tips to Get You Going* and *Tune Up Your Career: Tips & Cautions for Peak Performance in the Workplace*.
**Company**: Encore Professionals Group