Career crafting is looking beyond just your next job or position, and it begins with defining a career vision statement. You can use that vision as a lens through which you evaluate your various career options by asking, “Does Option A get me closer to that vision, or does Option B?”
Some people getting nervous about vision exercises. For some of my “Type A” Achiever clients, they interpret creating a career vision statement as something that they are now required to work toward. That can be nerve-wracking! You never really know what’s around the corner. Having a vision so profound and far into the future can feel restrictive – and setting yourself up for failure. In addition, you may feel as though articulating a vision means that you’re putting a stake in the ground, and that you must then create a plan to execute on achieving that vision.
A career vision statement is NOT a goal that you must create a plan to execute toward.
Let’s revisit what a vision actually is. Generally, a vision is very futuristic, typically on a grand scale, something almost unattainable because you can’t clearly see a path between Here and There. It is based on instinct and your own natural tendencies, a feeling, or even some sort of compulsion. Your career vision statement is something that you will always reach for, something that inspires you to act – it may even give you goosebumps! It answers the questions, “What profound legacy do I want to have? What mark do I want to make? How do I want to change my world? If I were granted an overarching career wish, what would it be?”
A career vision statement is audacious. You need to be brave enough to dig it out.
For many professionals, what inspires them or drives them is buried so deep that they would have a hard time digging it out. But as hokey as it sounds, there is great value in actually digging out that vision for yourself. This exercise is a good one if you feel that your career has little direction, or the path you’re on has no clear purpose. If what you’ve been doing up to this point has suddenly and mysteriously become the wrong path for you, then you would benefit from the career vision statement to serve as an anchor for determining where to do from here.
Here are some vision statements from organizations you might be familiar with:
The Hunger Project – to see every person lead a healthy life of self-reliance and dignity
CARE – to achieve an end to poverty
ASPCA – to see the US be a place where all animals are treated with respect and kindness
Habitat for Humanity – to have a world where everyone has a decent place to live
Profound vision statements are not limited to “do-good” organizations. Plenty of for-profit businesses also have aspirational vision statements.
Amazon – to be earth’s most customer-centric company
Cold Stone Creamery – to be the ultimate ice cream experience
Disney – to make people happy
Google – to make the world’s information universally accessible and useful
Harley Davidson – to fulfill dreams through the experiences of motorcycling
IKEA – create a better everyday life for many people
TESLA – accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
Here’s a clue that you have a good vision statement: If you would be hard pressed to define the exact conditions under which the vision would actually be achieved, or if it even seems unattainable but you still wish it would come to fruition somehow, congratulations! It is truly aspirational. You’ve then got your career vision statement.
“That’s fine for companies and organizations, but how do I create a vision statement for myself?”
This is where you need to do some brainstorming, meditation, or journaling. For example, ask the following questions, and see what comes up for you.
- Have you felt compelled to act in a job situation in a certain way, despite the culture or the “standard” way of doing things being the opposite?
- Do you have activities, hobbies, or interests that you really love spending time on outside of work? What is it exactly about those outside activities that is fulfilling? Do you find those qualities in jobs you’ve enjoyed or not?
- Is there a problem or concern in your industry that you would love to see solved once and for all?
There may be other questions to ask, however. But you must dig deep to get to a core motivator for you to act in your career.
When you find the root of your motivations, you can write the career vision statement which serves as your “professional North Star.”
Here are some examples of career vision statements that I have helped others create for themselves.
My personal career vision is to…
- Ensure that every woman has a real chance at performing at all levels of leadership.
- Always be in a truly safe and diverse space for everyone to come and do their best work.
- See that every person has the communication skills to diplomatically articulate exactly what they want to be able to say.
- Make sure work is always a thing that I do, and never a thing that I am.
- Be forever working on the most absolutely cutting-edge new technology.
- Create a way for workplaces everywhere to prioritize people over profits.
What profound statements! How can one little person ever realize such incredible outcomes? The reality is, one person can’t. However, their career vision statements will drive them to craft their careers and decision-making always toward the realization of that vision.