If you’re like me, once you decide to make a career change (or any kind of change, for that matter), you want it to happen now. You’re ready to start figuring out “how” you’ll get there. But until you’re clear about the “why” part of it, you’ll be moving ahead without a clear sense of direction or purpose.
In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey suggests beginning with the end in mind. You can figure out the “why” by creating a vision of where you want to be and then working your way backwards.
Your vision tells you your “why.” It’s the big picture that helps you understand who you are and the sort of work that would be a good fit for you, before you get into the details of exactly how you’ll get there.
Your career vision:
- Is an expression of your values and accomplishments as defined by YOU rather than by other people or circumstances.
- Provides focus and a sense of direction, as well as inspiration and motivation. It represents what you want to accomplish in your life and what contributions you wish to offer the world.
- Pulls you toward the work that gives your life purpose. Being pulled is a lot different than feeling pushed from behind to get ahead or to make more money at the expense of career satisfaction.
To create your career vision:
Take time away from your usual routine for some reflection and introspection. Find a quiet place, away from distractions or interruptions. It’s vitally important that your vision come from you, not from the other people in your life. Explore what’s most true about you; clarify what’s most important to you. Take a close look at your values and the themes that run throughout your life. Allow yourself all the time you need to understand who you are and what you really want.
Now imagine yourself at some point in the future, living the way you’ve always wanted. Take a look at yourself – really see yourself, your true self. What does your ideal lifework look like? What are you doing, what have you accomplished, what’s important to you? Who are the people in your life, how much are you making, where do you live?
Describe your career vision clearly and in as much detail as you can. If you leave it too undefined or hazy, chances are good you won’t get there. Suspend all judgment – don’t allow yourself to dismiss possibilities as “too impractical” or “unrealistic.” Let your vision come from your heart.
See the steps forward
Come back to your life as it is now. Where are you currently in relation to your vision? When you know where you want to be, you’ll see your current situation much more clearly. Once you know the “why”, the action steps you’ll need to take to reach your vision (the “how”) will become apparent, even if it’s just one step at a time.
Put it on paper
Now make it “official.” Create a vision statement that you can keep in front of you at all times. It can be either written or visual. Some of my clients like to create a collage to remind them of their vision. Others write it out and post it where they can see it every day.
With a clear vision as your guide, you’ll be better able to evaluate opportunities and decisions in terms of how well they align with the things that are important to you. If something doesn’t fit with your career vision, you’ll have to ask yourself if it’s worth it.
Creating a vision for your career and life allows you to consciously choose how you wish to use your talents and honor your values.
What is your career vision?