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A career vision statement is akin to using a GPS to find your way down a long and winding road. Prior to the invention of the GPS, people used a compass and map to find their way. You needed both to successfully “navigate” the twists and turns of your journey. Without one or the other, you did not have a complete understanding of what was ahead and how to successfully reach your destination. You were too busy evaluating your surroundings to notice the sites along the way and enjoy the journey.
With the invention of GPS travel became much easier and enjoyable as voice commands and high definition pictures easily show us what’s ahead and how to navigate the journey. We can stop and enjoy the surroundings, not having to worry as we “restart” the GPS for updated guidance on how and when to reach our destination. The GPS knows our preferences and adjusts to make sure we travel a path that best fits our needs and desires.
Your Career Vision Statement
Likewise, from a career standpoint, we also need a “Career GPS” to help us successfully navigate the ever-changing landscape of our career development journey. To make productive and satisfying career choices we need to better understand who we really are, what we want to become, what is important to us, and what impact we desire to have on the world.
The key part of a “Career GPS” is the Career Vision Statement, which is your way of “seeing” yourself in a career future and linking yourself to that career future in a way that makes sense for you. It points the way and draws you forward into the future, helping you make decisions along the way based upon your preferences. It helps you navigate the right moves and prevents you from veering off into unproductive opportunities that are not a “best fit” for your unique career desires and/or needs. Finally, it defines what balance you desire to strike between your life and your career. Remember the old saying, “I work to live, NOT live to work.” While important, your career is only part of your life!
Discovering Your Unique Attributes – The Whole Person Model
Your Career Vision Statement is the output of an important assessment and discovery process that gives you a deeper understanding of your “Whole Person” – your unique attributes. These attributes are the building blocks of who we really are and what we want to become, and include eight key factors known as the Highlands Whole Person Model:
Your natural abilities are what you are born with. It is what comes easy and natural to you. Your natural abilities provide you the most joy when in use and the most career frustration when not fully utilized. Your natural abilities are the foundation of your assessment and discovery process;
Skills are learned and are mastered with over time with practice. You may or may not enjoy all the skills you learned even if you do them well;
Interests are what produce excitement and passions – time seems to go by without you noticing it when you are focused on your interests. However, interests do change over time and so it is important to know how to adapt our career vision to our changing interests;
Your personal style is the way you engage with other people – how you prefer to deal with others and how you want others to deal with you;
Your family is where you first gained ideas and impressions about the world of work. It may influence your career choices – some of which are important to embrace (work ethic, integrity, etc.) and some of which you may have to let go (biases that you do not share or must “unlearn”) to pursue your own unique career aspirations;
Personal values are those “non-negotiable” portions of our inner self that serve as the compass to help us define right, wrong, and even deal with ambiguity. A conflict between personal and company values often produces significant stress on our career so it is critical to know how to assess a proper match;
Personal Goals are those things we wish to accomplish and be proud of. You strive to achieve things for yourself or for the benefit of others (usually more impactful and satisfying). Goals provide us the motivation to power through and complete the tasks;
Career Development Cycle
You will face many transitions or turning points throughout life. This includes events such as moving from college to a paying job or facing the prospect of a mid-career crisis. Understanding where we are in the cycle helps us cope with what to do next.
These eight attributes provide us with the canvas to create our unique career vision statement – who we really are, what we want to become, what is important to us, and what impact we desire to have on the world.
Example of a Career Vision Statement
You can imagine that a serious examination of the eight attributes of the Whole Person Model takes time and reflection. Creation of a Personal Vision Statement does not occur in one sitting but requires time for creative integration. It is a time for your mind to unconsciously process your thoughts and begin to “connect the dots” to gain clarity and conviction.
My Career Vision Statement took me several iterations to make sure it integrated all eight of my Whole Person Model attributes:
“Help people align their purpose, their passions and their paycheck to achieve financial freedom while also realizing greater personal and professional satisfaction.”
I believe brevity brings greater clarity and impact but getting there takes significant work! My Career Vision Statement is a two-way lens. It allows others to see me for what I am and what I desire, and how I want to see the world. My “career GPS” allows me to quickly assess a “best fit” opportunity from something that would not provide me with personal and professional satisfaction.
You go through life once and it is imperative that we make the most of our journey. Preparation and navigation make for a more enjoyable and rewarding trip allowing you to savor the destination even more! The same holds true for your career path. You must take the time and effort to:
- Define who you really are
- What you want to become
- Why it is important to you, and
- The impact you desire to have on the world.
Anything less and you short change yourself and others. Your unique career contributions are not available for others to witness and enjoy.