"You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction." — Alvin Toffler
During the winter when I spend more time inside, and more time inside myself, I notice I am drawn to the expansive view from the window. It settles me knowing there is a vision outside of this inside season and a vision outside of myself. My view has me expand and narrow my gaze in the same moment. I see the trees, mountains and water while noticing the birds landing on the feeders and the squirrels chattering with their tails. It is this view that reminds me to breathe and connect with how I fit into this landscape.
This is how we create vision. We look outward from ourselves gazing at our future self at the same time we journey inward to sense and see what settles in us and excites us in the same breath.
So why do this? Why look out that window and contemplate a more powerful, courageous me? Why see a picture of my ideal self? And, specifically why set a career vision?
For over 30 years I’ve worked with people helping them connect with their inner and outer view of themselves and to see their greatest version of who they are at work. Here are a few reasons why to do it.
- Creating a vision and getting connected with who you want to be helps keep you engaged and on track by reinforcing the images of you as your ideal self. It has you imagine and put words to the you that you may not always share with others. It is your belief in yourself as greater than “the what” you do or the role you identify. Your vision is the power that has you consciously and subconsciously develop the goals and actions that bring you success
- Having a clear mental image of who you will be in the future and what you will achieve is the key to accomplishing any goals that you set. It raises your self-confidence, motivates you, and enhances your physical and psychological well-being. It keeps you engaged in work and committed to accomplishments that matter to you.
- Having a clear direction with a vision helps you to organize your actions so they are conscious, directed, effective, coherent, and enduring. Actions without vision are often unconscious which leads to misdirected or ineffective results.
- While your career is only one expression of your vision for yourself, career visions in particular create relative decision points empowering you to say “yes” or “no” to opportunities as they present themselves. It is the scaffolding that you lean on and gaze forward to at the same time.
What is a vision?
“You’ll never live a life that matters until you define what matters. Defining what matters is the purpose of vision.” - George Ambler
A vision is an active, big dream that shapes our actions and invests our work with meaning. It is a picture with a clear mental image of what we aspire to be and what inspires us to keep moving forward. It is the inward experience of ourselves that has an outward expression in action. Here are a few examples.
"I have the power to choose how I see the world. I am a positive influence on those around me, someone who encourages others to become their best. I look for the positive in others and increase prosperity and generativity in the world. As a leader in technology, I use my influence and power to support productive products and services, and I encourage well-being and engagement with my teams."
"Technology is rapidly advancing, and automation threatens to replace people in many fields. I actively welcome the opportunity for technology to improve our lives while remaining aware of the challenges. I pursue a professional career in technology to ensure I am at the forefront of developments. I do this so I can ensure everyone benefits equally and is protected against abuse and misuse of advancements."
"I am the very best version of myself that I can be, expressing every aspect of my life committed to lifelong learning and development. I inspire others through my example, so they can achieve their highest aspirations."
How do you create a vision?
- Get curious…set time to explore who you are and what dreams you have for yourself. This could involve journaling; reading books of people who inspire you; talking with others who you admire; or engaging a career coach to help you.
- Write about your best possible self. Don’t wait for a lightning bolt moment when your vision will appear…it takes practice and insight and persistence to continue to evolve it. Try new things.
- Ask a trusted friend or colleague to support you and be a safe container for you to explore and try out different renditions of your ideal self.
- Ask yourself questions. Here are a few I’ve used over the years:
- How do you define career success?
- What would your career be like if you had the power to make it any way you wanted?
- Who are the people you most admire and what is it about them or their careers that attracts you to them?
- What would you want to do today if all your bills were paid and you had relatively unlimited cash reserves?
- What’s the one activity you most love?
- When you meet someone new in 5 years’ time, how would you like to describe your career?
How will you know if you have a clear career vision?
Career visions have 3 components. Do a gap analysis and get clear on the discrepancy between who you are now as your real self and the you you are aiming toward, your ideal self. This is where vision turns into goals with incremental steps you can take to get closer to your ideal vision.
- A defined ideal self. Who do you WANT to be? This requires deep inner listening. Who do you GET TO BE in the role that you see yourself in?
- A clear real self. Who you are now.
- Practices and habits and goals…write them down, draw a picture…make an anchor for yourself.
As you look out of your window and see the view as you dream big about who you want to be in your life and in your career, know that engaging in this process will give you resolve, endurance and inspiration to take action that is worthwhile to you. Studies have shown, becoming familiar with the image of your best self is a better predictor of creative achievement than educational achievement. And, in the unsettled, unpredictable atmosphere we are in today, having a direction and a way home to yourself gives you purpose. And while your career is only one version of your one true self, it matters to be intentional about how you want your work to go. You may have various versions and renditions of yourself along the way so make them the ones you intend.