Planning is my secret sauce when it comes to all areas of my life.
However, I have seen how planning without a true vision can lead to misery.
Yes, planning works (when you stick to your plan), but it is the vision that glues us to our commitments and holds our feet to the fire.
Visualization is a powerful tool.
For years I knew of the power of visualization without truly understanding the power of having a vision.
In my late teens, I read "Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life" by Shakti Gawain.
I loved how I could use visualization to make changes in how I felt about myself and my life.
Unfortunately, once I got into the thick of my career and felt bogged down by stress and uncertainty, it took me many years to apply those lessons to create a vision for my career.
I first had to realize that a vision was what I was missing.
I was going through the motions because I knew I would need money to survive.
But, all the while, I felt miserable and lacked fulfillment.
Why We Need Visualization
As we grow in our careers, it is important that we start to develop a vision for our careers and personal lives.
As creators of our future, how can we successfully manifest the life we want to live if we ourselves are unsure of what we are creating?
This uncertainty allows us to be blown in many directions and steals our power.
- We begin to think that our career success depends on our bosses, teams, company, or even the economy.
- But all along, we have the power to reinvent, readjust, and create success within our lives.
Discover Your Vision
The first step in taking our power back is having a strong vision.
Companies use vision statements as road maps to guide their initiatives and company direction.
You, too, should have a vision statement.
Outlining your goals is a major step in career planning.
- A vision statement will serve as a guiding force in your career.
- It should express the impact you are looking to make.
- It will support your career in immeasurable ways, such as ...
- Deciding which industries to target.
- Deciding the next step on your career path.
Discovering your vision comes from having the courage to question yourself and what you want while tuning out influences such as society, family, and friends.
Without even realizing it, we internalize the feelings and thoughts of others daily. It takes going within for us to see where certain limitations originated.
Do you believe you can't make it as an artist or pursue a certain path?
If so, it probably started with something you were told or read.
An outside influence told us that we weren’t good enough or that something was impossible and we built our careers around that notion.
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What would your career look like if you didn’t put limitations on yourself?
What if you didn’t think of your career as a tool to make money and gain influence, but as a way to express your gifts and positively impact the people around you?
Spend some time really imagining your career.
- What does your day look like?
- What impact do you have?
- How do you feel?
Imagine it in the context of your whole life.
- Where are you waking up?
- What time is it?
- Who are you lying next to?
Our careers affect all areas of our life and should not be thought of as separate from our personal lives.
Our careers are essentially our “life’s work.”
We must think about it in relation to our whole lives because it touches all the pieces of our personal space.
All of us at a young age had a vision of what we thought “work” would look like.
Maybe it was based on what we saw our parents do, or on things we observed on television.
For years, I thought that if I didn’t make it as an actor, my backup job would be as a systems analyst since that is what my mother did.
Never mind that I really had no idea what a systems analyst did or that I wasn’t even into computers at the time.
It was through tapping into what I was really interested in and good at that I decided what I was going to pursue in school and in my career.
Write It Down
Now that you’ve gotten the picture, write it down.
Another book that was a great influence over how I thought about my life and career is "Write it Down, Make it Happen" by Henriette Klauser.
I read this book in college and it helped open my eyes to the power of writing down goals, thoughts, and dreams.
Ask yourself these two questions:
- What am I passionate about?
- How do I enjoy spending my time?
Write down the answers.
Write down your long and short-term goals, and what your top priorities are for the next six months.
These questions will form the base of your plan.
The power of having a solid plan is that it takes out all the guesswork when it comes to how you should be spending your time and effort.
Removing stress goes a long way towards making your job search a bearable experience and may even infuse a little fun into the process.
Let Your Vision Drive Your Plan
Your vision for your career should be the driving force behind this plan.
- Do a clear assessment of your career now.
- Determine how it aligns with your goals for your life and career.
- Research the career path for someone in your industry.
Does that speak to the direction that you would like to take your career?
Explore other career paths and see how they tie into your experience and goals.
Dedicating time to career-related research will support the planning process.
- Do online research.
- Find time for networking.
- Talk to industry professionals.
Create Your Plan
After gathering this knowledge, you can make a job search or career plan that speak to your needs while taking into consideration the needs and values of your chosen industry.
This will also support the next step in planning, gathering, and assessing resources.
Ask yourself what you need to make this plan a success:
- A new resume?
- An updated LinkedIn profile?
- Certification or hands-on experience?
Once you know what resources you need, set dates for acquiring them.
Dates are very important when planning and prioritizing.
They serve as motivation and a way to track progress.
Your plan should follow this general flow:
- Arrange your goals with the top priorities on your list first.
- Under each goal, list the resources that are needed.
- If you have all the resources, you can move on to planning the bigger goal.
- If a crucial resource is missing, start there.
- Create the preliminary steps to acquire the resources.
Start with setting a date for completion.
After setting a deadline, list all the things that need to happen to complete this goal.
Add a completion date for each of these smaller tasks.
Now, break down how much time you will spend on this goal on a daily and weekly basis.
Are there tasks that need to be completed daily or weekly, such as setting up informational interviews or networking?
If so, make note of those too.
I find that having a daily list of actions is a great way to stay on track.
It also brings a sense of accomplishment when we complete all our tasks.
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Take Your Power Back
Plans that are only kept in your mind can be easily forgotten or ignored.
For this reason, share your plan with someone you respect.
Try to make it someone that you would mind disappointing.
Often times we will break a commitment to ourselves before we will break it with another person.
This person can be a mentor, friend, family member, or coach. Just having someone to hold you accountable is a great way to increase productivity.
After a while, some of us stop dreaming and creating our vision in favor of what we believe is a more practical view of our career.
But this more "practical" view rarely has us in control of our career.
However, through creating a clear vision and plan, we can take our power back.
Start with having a clear vision of what you want to create.
Create a thorough plan with dates.
And get ready to enjoy a more fulfilling and joyous career!