Getting from Where You Are, to Where You Want to Be

Forging Your Own Career Path - Udacity

Career change isn’t easy. Life change isn’t easy. Change of any kind can be difficult. External obstacles are a fact of life. They can be overcome, but they’re often overwhelming. Sometimes, the biggest obstacles are self-created. We doubt ourselves. We second-guess, lose confidence, falter, and give up. I know all about it. I’ve been through it. The best thing that ever happened to me, was admitting it was my fault. Admitting that I’d failed because I hadn’t been true to myself. That was the beginning of my new life.

If that sounds counter-intuitive, it isn’t. Admitting my own shortcomings empowered me. It gave me confidence, it didn’t erode it. The day I realized I needed to forge my own path, on my terms, was the day I became a success. What follows are the lessons I’ve learned. I share them with you, because I hope they’ll help you forge your own path, and achieve success on your terms.


Change starts with accepting full responsibility for your career. This in turn leads to assuming an advocacy role on behalf of yourself. If you’re not happy with where you are, it’s time to work for change.

Any number of people will try to tell you how to get ahead. From some, it’s free advice. Others will want to charge you for their “secrets.” But there are no secrets, and there is only one person who can be the agent of change in your life. You.


Want to better your career? Take inventory of your existing skills. Do an audit of yourself. What are your existing skills? What skills are required for the work you want to be doing? Make a two-column skills list—the ones you have, and the ones you need. Column A and Column B. Cross out matching skills. What remains in Column B is what’s known as your skills gap.


Now that you know what you need, it’s time to create a written plan of action. List the skills you need, and the educational resources you’re going to pursue in order to gain those skills. Estimate the time you’ll need for completion, and add a checkbox for “Project added to portfolio.” Once you’re able to create a portfolio piece using a given skill, check the box, add it to your resume, and move forward. The goal is not perfection! You only need a working model that demonstrates ability to complete a task while on the job.


You’re going to have to be an advocate for the growth of your career. It’s up to you to promote your new skills.  If you’re currently employed, show your supervisor what you’re now capable of. Name the position you’d like to have and work together to make a successful transition.

If you desire new employment then apply for relevant positions that match at least 60% of your current skill set. Update your LinkedIn profile and apply with a one-page, customized resume. Additionally, build and maintain an online portfolio and publish your work on GitHub or other open source platforms.

Ultimately, you must accept responsibility for your career. No one is obligated to help you get to where you want to be. Fortunately, successful career changes are easier than ever before. Job boards show exactly what skills employers need. Online courses enable the development of those in-demand skills. Online platforms make vital networking possible at a global level.


Forging a new career path boils down to a series of concrete steps you must take to advance your agenda:

  1. Catalog your current skills and document your skills gap.
  2. Create a written plan of action to fill the gap.
  3. Put the plan into action and own full responsibility for the advancement of your career.

With discipline and diligence you will progress from where you are, to where you want to be.


JP Miller online: