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Building and managing a trajectory involves breaking down professional goals into manageable steps. Everyone is familiar with the experience of dreaming big, but many people get lost in the execution. Setting goals is the first step in achieving a goal-oriented career trajectory. Difficult but attainable goals consistently result in the greatest success, but there is a tension between the hard and the impossible. If goals are too difficult, motivation is lost and individuals are discouraged from making future attempts. Professionals should set goals for the near future, as goals extrapolated too far out do not exert much influence.

Goals are best achieved through small, incremental progress. Patience can be a tricky subject to master, but it is well worth the effort. Most goals are not achieved in a rush of energy; they are reached over time as individuals put in day-to-day effort. Specifying intermediary milestones is a good way to measure progress. Professional choices are best made after careful consideration rather than through knee-jerk reactions to every new development. Incorporating the principle of delayed gratification into one’s goals will result in increased willpower and avoidance of an instant-reaction feedback loop.

While progress is best achieved in small increments after thoughtful exploration, that does not mean individuals should paralyze themselves by considering all options and refusing to move forward. Individuals must identify the right opportunities and seize them at the right time. While the decisiveness and responsibility this entails may seem overwhelming, a carefully mapped trajectory can provide the information needed to make good choices in a timely manner. As individuals think big, act small, and move quick, their confidence and ability will increase.

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