#1 Career Foundations Series
I learned that I needed a career vision the hard way.
In the winter of 2017, I was broken. I was living in Greece, which was amazing and should have made me happy (first world problems, I know).
But I was also on the job market to be a professor, and it was quickly becoming clear to me that the job I’d just spent 5 years training for didn’t exist, the people who had trained me had known I’d never get a job and reeled me into the dream anyways, and basically life sucked. (You can read more of that story here.)
And it did. It was really hard.
I’ve written in other posts about this, and I think that it’s a rally cry of a generation with degrees they can’t use or jobs they don’t want. We’re living through a 4th industrial revolution, and the world is changing fast.
In the years since my life fell apart and came back together, I’ve thought a lot about purpose. The job I was chasing as a prof, which I was sure was going to make me happy (now I doubt it). And ultimately, how do we get meaning from our work? Is it just a pipe dream?
Here’s what I’ve learned after stumbling through a few careers that didn’t fit, and ultimately finding one that did.
There are only three things that we need to do to give our careers tremendous purpose.
1. Have an exciting and challenging vision for your life (that your work serves)
2. Constantly be growing towards being the person who can achieve that vision
3. Mastery of an area that you get to use
In this post, I’ll talk about 1. Why you need a life and career vision, 2. How to create a vision, and 3. How to take the first steps towards living it.
Watch this post, or continue reading below!
Why you need a career vision
Zig Ziglar, the famous motivational speaker, talks about creating a vision for your life (you can listen to the whole speech here). He gives the example of the famous archer Howard Hill, who could “split a bullseye” and then hit that arrow with the first one.
Says Ziglar, “I could spend 20 minutes with you… and could have any man or woman hitting the bullseye more consistently than Howard Hill could have on the best day her ever had–provided we blindfolded Howard Hill”
Now you say, “Ziglar, that’s silly! How could a man hit a target he could not see?”
That’s a good question, let me ask you another. “How could you hit a target you do not have?”
The whole speech is fantastic and worth listening to.
People don’t know where they’re going. They wander through life and fatalistically accept the job, the salary, the lot that life gives them.
And what is astonishing is how many people will complain about life, but how few people will take serious action to fix their life.
I had always dreamed of living in Europe. I grew up in the woods of Northern Canada, and the books I read were all about this place called Europe. I wanted to live there. And that impacted my life choices. I applied for schools there. I tried to get visiting exchanges. I had three different studies in the UK that fell through, and finally–after I got into Cambridge for my PhD but didn’t have the money–I ended up in Toronto for a PhD. Fed up with never having lived my European dream, I applied for all the research travel funding I could get, put all my possessions in storage, and went! I loved it!
We get what we focus on…
When was the last time you got fixated on something you had to have? Maybe it was a job, a romantic partner, a car, a house, a vacation… Let me ask you, did you make it happen?
Most of us have done this on a smaller scale. But never with our life. A friend of mine collects guitars… I don’t know how on earth he affords them on his salary, but he makes it work.
The truth is, our visions create reality. Ask any company founder what they started with… it was a vision. To help merchants sell stuff (Shopify). To organize the internet (Google).
We live in the fruit of others’ visions every day. Why not create your own? Why not have a picture of the future that compels you? That drives you?
Why not make it hard enough to get that it will be a decade project?
I believe that the people who create and commit to visions see them happen. That’s why you need a career vision.
What happens if you don’t have a vision?
Nothing. And for some people that might be okay. You’ll keep stumbling through life, waiting for stuff to happen to you and letting it dictate your future. And that might be enough for you…
HOWEVER, if you want more. read on.
“Your passion is for you, your purpose is for others. Your passion makes you happy. But when you use your passion to make a difference is someone else’s life, that’s a service, that’s a purpose, and that’s the hand.”Jay Shetty
How to create a vision
I want to tell you how to create a career vision. But ultimately, I take life and career together. The two will spill into each other.
Recognize that your vision may change with time, and that’s okay. But here’s a good place to start.
I believe that a personal vision should include 3 components.
–Start with you. Explore the type of work you want to do, the things you love, that make your soul come alive. Some of these might be things you get paid for, some might not.
Your passions will change with time, but you have some right now that you can use to start mapping a vision. If you love scrap-booking, you might start a scrap-booking business. But chances are, it’s really just a clue that you need some sort of creativity in your work.
Some great examples of passion:
Yeah, you can be vague. Use your interests as guidelines. I happen to love writing. Yes, in this case, it turned into a living. Yay!
-What do you want the output of your work to be? Mine is pretty simple. Roostervane, my main work, exists to help grads to build amazing careers–filling in what I believed was a gap in good career prep.
Whether you want to help the environment, influence foreign policy, or inspire people, you have a “purpose” in your heart that you can probably identify today. It might be the stuff you complain about, the stuff you think about.
-Your path is the direction between your passion and purpose. It takes what you do and brings it towards the impact you’re going to have. Your path is your career. Most people think more about their path than the other two, but most people also stumble into a path giving little thought to their passion or purpose.
Taken together, these three things might look like this.
- Passion-Design = Purpose-Helping Businesses = Path-Becoming a graphic designer that helps businesses rebrand.
- Passion-Bench Research = Purpose-Finding a cure for Alzheimers = Path-Getting a job with a pharmaceutical company
- Passion-Writing and researching = Purpose-helping immigrants = Path-Becoming a policy analyst for immigration policy.
Okay, so where does vision fit into all this? Vision is where these three things take you with time. In 10 years, if you follow your path, where will you be?
This is true of both your personal and your career vision.
Here are some examples of visions people might have:
- I have the freedom to work from anywhere
- I run the best marketing agency in Toledo
- I spend every Friday with my kids
- I live in a house in the country
- I make 7 figures
- I speak around the world
Your career vision is your own. You don’t have to share. So create a vision for the future by writing down some things that get you excited.
Here’s what mine could look like…
Passion- Writing and creating content
Purpose- Helping grads build better careers, support my family, create a life that inspires me
Path- Using a my writing and videos online to both educate and make a living.
Vision– (10 years from now)- I educate and speak to students and universities around the world, write books, and consult on creating amazing careers from degrees. I make a great living off this that helps me support my family.
How to write a vision statement
You can use your passion, path, and purpose to write a personal vision statement. What excites you, what impact do you want to have on the world, and how will you get there. And write it in 10 years time… like this: “I make $$$ using my gifts of writing and communication to create content that helps students create careers they LOVE and gets over 1 million views a month. I speak to crowds of thousands of people and I have a house I love in the country.”
How to bring your career vision to life…
When you were 10 and you wanted that shiny remote control car, how did you bring your vision to life? You fixated on it. You thought about it. You asked your mom and dad. Maybe you mowed lawns or delivered papers to save up. Maybe you sold lemonade
Fixate on your vision. Write it every day–in the present tense, like I did above. trick your brain into thinking that there’s not even a shadow of a doubt that you will have that thing.
I’m not a big believer in the “law of attraction,” that if you want something bad enough the universe will bring it to you. But I am a big believer in the psychology of success, that when we fixate on things and believe they will happen, they often do.
What have you got to lose?
Create an exciting vision and start chasing it!