Consistently accomplishing the daily tasks that, together, create massive shifts in our working lives is only possible when we have a clear vision of the future. Without that vision, we get distracted, discouraged, and, sometimes, completely dissatisfied with the world of work.
Those three d’s—distracted, discouraged, dissatisfied—describe how many of my clients feel before we start working together, and the three d’s describe me before I created my first vision.
Toward the end of my military career, I created my first career vision. It happened after a mortar attack in the former-Yugoslavia.
After the shelling stopped, I was standing in the middle of our little compound and watching other soldiers emerge from where they had taken cover. Almost instantly, I began thinking about how, after ten years of military service, I wanted to create a different working life. Then, these words flashed in my brain, “The next ten years of my life will not be like the last ten.”
Those words were my first personal vision. I would soon create a more specific vision, but those words created a massive shift in my personal and working life. I left the military a year later, I went back to school, I met my wife, I created a new career, and I have never stopped changing and growing.
As I watched those changes unfold, I began to appreciate the power of having a vision, and how to create even more powerful vision statements. Here’s what I’ve learned about creating a vision that guides us toward a new working life.
How vision statements work
A vision is a giant magnet that pulls us through the challenges we face along our journey. Like a magnet, the closer we get the stronger it pulls and the faster we approach it. And, just like a magnet, when we finally arrive, we and our vision become inseparable.
Your vision vs. their vision
Vision statements created by organizations are meant to inspire and focus people within the organization and change the behavior of customers outside of the organization. Those statements need to appeal to a diverse audience. Your career vision statement only needs to appeal to you and propel you forward. And, it’s your vision that will become your greatest comfort during times of stress.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed by challenges in my own working life, it’s my vision that helps me reframe those challenges as welcome opportunities to learn so I can move forward.
Goals get checked-off, visions last forever
A vision is not a goal. We go through life checking-off completed goals on our list. Although we feel satisfied once we accomplish a goal, we soon begin creating new goals and leave the old, accomplished goals behind.
Unlike goals, a vision is not satisfying because we achieve it, it’s satisfying because we get to experience it day-after-day. Achieving our vision is only the opportunity to begin living immersed in our vision.
3 Key criteria for your career vision
At the end of this article, I provide examples of vision statements. Those examples shouldn’t inspire you because none of them are your vision. But to create your own, it’s important to understand why the examples are written the way they are.
1 Describe a feeling or state
Doing the work you’ve always wanted to do will make you feel good, but good isn’t detailed enough to motivate most people. So, in your vision statement, include one or two feeling (state) words that are meaningful to you.
2 Describe action
The vision describes what we will be doing in the future. It is stated in the present tense and includes verbs ending in ing.
3 Direct and short
When writing your vision, it’s especially important that you experience the meaning of each word as directly and as immediately as possible. You’ll be able to do this by choosing words that capture exactly what you mean; avoid jargon and fancy words. Lastly, keep your vision as short as possible.
Examples of career visions
Joyfully (feeling/state) developing (doing word) and implementing (doing word) effective social media strategies for large corporations (the work).
Confidently and competently leading high-performing IT support teams.
Living in personally-defined abundance while contributing to a stress-free customer experience.
Those examples are boring!
Yes, they should sound boring to you because none of them are your vision. The working lives in the examples are exciting to the people who created the visions, just like your vision will express the working life that excites you.
What is your career vision? Do you have any tips for how to create a powerful career vision? Please let me know by leaving a comment, below. Or, you can connect with me and comment on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Also, please share this article with your family, friends, and coworkers.