I have been told by a few individuals over the years that you can not plan out your career, and that things will always come up that you never expect throughout your entire career. I do agree with this to an extent however I think having a 3 or 5 year plan is crucial to your success. Of course their will be occurrences that you never expect to happen; some will be good and some will be bad. What matters is that you are able to deal with them and continue with your 5 year plan.
Since starting full-time in IT I made myself a 5-year plan and have achieved so far every goal I had initially set for myself. This included passing my A+/Network+/CCENT/CCNA and also getting into the networking field within my first year of working full-time. This is not a coincidence or luck. I am living proof that if you set your mind to something and you want it more than anything else you will achieve it. Some other goals of mine in my 5 year plan include passing CCNP/CCDA/CCDP, become a mid-senior engineer, become a network consultant, and finally passing CCIE. Passing CCIE may not happen in my 5 year plan but I feel that if I stay at the pace I am currently keeping I should be able to pass it by the time I am 26-27.
So please do yourself a favor and literally write yourself out a career path and follow it. Don’t lose sight of your goals and don’t let other people tell you that you are taking the wrong path. Trust me you will run into tons of people that think certifications are a waste of time. Get those kind of people out of your life. I guarantee you will surpass their skill set much faster then they took to get their.