For most people when they embark on their first careers they have a sense of what they want to do or who they want to become. But often as time goes on, we begin to lose sight of things. As we grow and evolve as individuals, our ideas of what we want from life and career may change. Also we get so caught up in managing our careers, navigating through the ups and downs, that it is easy to lose sight of that vision.
Being involved in a career without a vision is like going on a trip without selecting a destination beforehand. What would you pack? How would you get there? Where would you stay? Your trip probably would not end up being much fun.
It’s the same with your career. Not being able to visualize your desired destination leads to results not happening. Goals are reached when you decide what you want, and then take action to get it. Without an end in mind, you will wander aimlessly; and as long as you are aimless, you will be wasting time. You will feel lost and feel like a stray leaf, going wherever the wind takes you.
What’s a vision?
A vision is a mental picture of where you see yourself in the future. Your picture can be one of where you want to be in a week, a month, a year, or even farther into the future. A vision is a snapshot of what you want your career and life to look like in the future. This snapshot gives your journey a clear and reachable destination and provides focus.
How does one create a vision?
I believe all goals are visualized in the mind first. You start by seeing yourself both achieving your goal and experiencing the satisfaction it will bring you once you are there.
Begin by closing your eyes and allowing your imagination to take over. Imagine what you really want and what is important to you. Ask yourself meaningful questions. Allow your intuition guide you to the answers.
Here are some questions that you can ask yourself. Feel free to come up with additional questions that match your specific situation:
- Where would I like to see my career in one year (you can replace this timeframe with what you have in mind)?
- Is my work aligned with my overall life goals?
- Where would I like to see my finances in the next one year?
- Does my work make me feel fulfilled?
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. What’s important is what is true for you, not what someone else wants for you. Once you have a clear vision in front of your eyes, it will lend you a sense of purpose, power and excitement.
Remember taking those career assessment tests in high school? Although they can tell you where your strengths lie, they don’t necessarily tell you what you’re passionate about. Passion is something that comes from inside you—and, if your interests or skills don’t clearly align with a career path, it can be difficult to put your finger on what you want to do.
To find your career passion, think about the following:
- What do you love to do?
- What are your interests?
- What skills do you possess?
- What do you want to be remembered for?
- What impact do you want to have on people?
- What motivates you?
- If salary wasn’t an issue, what career path would you choose?
- What courses did you excel in during high school or college?
- What do others say you’d be great at?
Obviously, not every one of those questions will lead you to your ideal career path, but they will certainly get you thinking about what you’re good at and what you enjoy most.
Once you’ve brainstormed from those questions, start thinking outside of the box when it comes to ideal career paths you might take. For example, when I was working as a public relations professional, I had to hire for several positions within our firm. I discovered that I truly enjoyed the hiring process and wanted to improve upon it—so I set out to use my knowledge as a hiring manager by starting my own company, Come Recommended. Now, I’ve combined both of those career paths into one, working as a career expert and running a PR and content marketing company for HR/career organizations.
Get a better handle on your ideal industry by actually experiencing it. You can do this one of the following ways:
- Job shadow – tagging along with a professional in the field you desire to work in to see what their day-to-day assignments are like.
- Informational interview – asking for 10-15 minutes of a professional’s time to inquire about the field, ask questions about the organization and receive advice about breaking into the industry.
- Volunteering – offering to help a local nonprofit organization by working in a position similar to your ideal field.
- Internship – experiencing the industry first-hand by working for an organization as an intern, building your skills and networking with other professionals at the company.
Many people think that they deserve a promotion because they work extremely long hours, they are dedicated workers who can be counted on, and they’ve taken on additional responsibilities which have increased their workloads. They are the ultimate team players who somehow still manage to do their “own job” exceptionally well along with everything else they’ve been asked to do. These are all very important attributes, but in today’s economy where many organizations are doing more with less, isn’t everyone working long hours? Do you know of anyone who hasn’t had to take on additional duties or responsibilities? Aren’t most people willing to chip in and help their team members while still meeting or exceeding in their own job? If that’s the case then how do you ask for the promotion that you feel you so richly deserve?
I know it’s summer vacation….but do your homework! You want to make sure you are overly-prepared before making the decision to meet with your boss. Ask yourself a few questions:
- Do you have a good reputation and a proven track record of consistently high performance with your organization? Can you document these achievements?
- Are you performing NOW? Are you basking in the glow of previous accomplishments or are you engaged and doing your BEST work currently?
- Have your recent contributions led to increased profitability/growth and or improvements/productivity? Can those contributions be measured or quantified?
- What have you done developmentally which makes you ready to be promoted? What degree(s) or professional certifications have you earned? What seminars, courses, classes or programs have you completed?
- Are there any weaknesses that you really need to correct before the next promotion is possible? If so what is the actionable plan to address this?
- Are you looking for a new job title, more money or both? Do you know what the local market median is in terms of how title/job duties correlate to salary in the area where you live?
After answering the questions above and feel that you are ready to meet with your boss, put together a comprehensive summary document and schedule a time to meet with your manager. Be confident and proud to speak about your accomplishments — toot your horn a little bit, you deserve it!! During the meeting let your manager know what preparations you’ve taken to make yourself ready for the responsibilities of the new position, and be prepared to explain in detail why you deserve the promotion and what you hope to accomplish in the position.
If for some reason you don’t get the promotion, politely ask for the reasons, and find out what steps you need to take so that you are ready when the next opportunity presents itself. If you do receive the promotion, go celebrate…but don’t get complacent, continue doing the necessary things to keep advancing in your career!