According to the World English Dictionary, vision is defined as the ability or an instance of great perception, especially of future developments. This perception is especially necessary during a career change or a job search; a clear vision gives you something to strive for, and allows you to move forward toward your career goals. Vision is actually the complement to the self-assessment work you’ve been doing to develop your brand and clarify your values. The results of that work shows who you are and what you have to offer – what makes you unique. Adding a vision to the package gives you a direction in which to take your unique skills and strengths.
A career vision is essentially a mental image of your future career – a picture of your ideal, fulfilling, perfect career. Once you develop your vision, you can use it as a compass on your career search journey, keeping you on a straight line to success.
As with other steps along the way, developing a clear career vision takes work, but take time with it, as it will help motivate the rest of your search. Start the process by reviewing your branding statement and core values; these, as you now know, show you who you are now, and what is most important as you move forward – what is non-negotiable in a future career.
Now comes the fun part of this process – unlimited, creative, imaginative thinking! Most people hold themselves back through negativity, fear, and self-imposed restrictions, and this then limits their visions. This is your vision, so let your imagination run wild – dream big! This is usually difficult for most people, so here are some exercises to help generate your creativity.
- · Your Dream Job: What would you want to do today if you had no bills to pay, commitments or restrictions, and unlimited cash reserves?
- · What Does Your Future Look Like: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10? 15?
- · Career Success: What does success in your career mean to you? Think of your future self achieving success – what have you accomplished?
- · Your Unique Self: Back to your brand – what makes you distinctive in your chosen field? How can you leverage that in your career vision? What special gifts do you have; how can you share them?
- · Your Obituary: Not something we like to think about, but this can be a helpful activity. What would you like your obituary to say about your career accomplishments, achievements, the impact you made on your field, and people you helped along the way? Remember this is something only you will see, so give yourself the credit you will deserve when you’re doing your dream job.
- · The Ideal: How do you picture your ideal career and life? Include all elements of your perfect life – career, location, family, hobbies, volunteer activities – everything that will fulfill you.
Once you’ve completed your visioning exercises, put everything together in a cohesive statement (similar to your branding statement). Put your statement where you can read and say it often; reinforcing the image will help you make it happen.
Now you have bookends – your branding statement summarizing who you are and what you have to offer, and your career vision showing where you want to be. With these, you can now develop a plan to get from here to there, using specific goals and action steps. Effective goal setting is an essential part of the career and job search process, and will keep you moving forward. You’ve heard that goals should be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely; these elements clarify exactly what is expected and ensure accomplishment of the set goals. Here are some additional tips for setting effective goals: prioritize your goals, so you can focus on those that will move you forward; break your goals into manageable tasks, so you don’t feel overwhelmed and can accomplish them more easily; celebrate your accomplishments – this motivates you to take on other goals.
If you believe it, you can do it – creating a clear vision and setting effective goals help make your career search goals a reality, and give you the motivation and confidence to move forward in your journey.