Have you ever wondered why you even need a vision or how to create a vision board for your career?
I’ve been there, too. I used to think I needed to apply to hundreds of jobs until I received an offer and accepted it. Then, I started noticing that great leaders actually spent time envisioning their futures, creating some physical reminder of their vision, and being selective about what positions they were looking for to advance their careers. And, I wanted that clarity and vision, too, so that I could have a clear path forward that worked with my own vision of success. I learned the importance of uncovering what my vision feels and looks like and creating a vision board for my future. After reading this article, you will feel empowered because you learned how to create a vision board for your career, which will allow you to take the right steps toward a more fulfilling future.
What Is a Vision Board and Why it's Important
As a smart leader, you already know that vision and mission are standard buzzwords in the business world. Perhaps you’ve even served on a leadership team tasked with developing or refining the vision and mission of the organization. All healthy organizations have a vision that lays out what they aspire to be and becomes a beacon for employees. To keep the vision top of mind, some organizations even post their vision around the workplace. While we know the value of a vision for our workplace, we never stop to think about the importance of having a vision for our own careers and reducing that vision to written form, like a vision board. A vision board helps you know what do next in your career. It helps you know which competing offer is right for you.
Let me take a minute to demonstrate the importance of a vision by using an analogy to sports. I’m going to take us way back to my 7th grade year when I made the girls basketball team. Although I didn’t appreciate it at the time, I had a great coach who instilled in me the importance of having a vision. At that age, he gave us the vision for our team…to win the championship. Every practice and every game started with closing our eyes and trying to envision what it would look like to win that championship game at the end of the season. Some of us plastered our lockers with pictures of NBA all-stars, like Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. (Sadly, no women basketball stars to emulate in the ‘80s.) As we progressed toward our goal, our excitement grew with each game we won until we succeeded in clinching the championship that year. It truly was an exhilarating feeling and one of my favorite junior high memories.
Contrast that with my 8th grade basketball season. I don’t know all the politics that went on, but I do know that our coach was replaced by the father of one of my teammates, who was very focused on turning us into strong athletes. We spent an inordinate amount of time on drills and weightlifting and not as much time on coming together as a team around a shared vision. Our lockers were no longer adorned with NBA stars. In the end, we made it to the championship game; however, we lost in an underwhelming game with a score of 8 to 12. Yes, that was the final score of our basketball championship game!
So, why the contrast in back-to-back seasons? Because the vision of our leaders were different. One valued winning the basketball championship and did everything he could to help us envision that for ourselves and work toward that vision. The other valued strong athletes and did everything he could to help us work toward that vision. He also wanted us to win the championship game; however, that vision wasn’t as clear as the one he had for us to be strong athletes. As a result, it isn’t where he focused his efforts and we didn’t win the championship that year.
I’ve used that learning experience to move me forward both in my personal life, like training for marathons, and in my career when rising through the ranks to the C-Suite. Having that clear vision of what we aspire to be, putting it on a vision board, and using it as a beacon is critical if we want to be in control of our careers and truly feel successful.
The Importance of Describing What Your Vision Feels Like
Perhaps you never stopped to consider that having a vision actually means capturing your feelings around that vision, too. Olympic athletes have been using vision exercises for decades to improve performance. And this not only means having an image of that vision, but using all of their senses to smell, hear and even feel success. The same is true with career visions. The better you can define what that vision feels like, the more your vision comes to life and the more you keep moving forward when you encounter a bump or even a fork in the road. For example, how do you make a decision when you have competing offers for two positions? Do you take the one with the best compensation package? Of course, it may feel good to see that increase on your bank statement, but you may feel unfulfilled every day when you show up to work. Make sure you spend the time now to know what your vision feels like and put that down on paper so you make the best decisions about your future and feel energized and ready to greet each work day.
The Importance of Describing What Your Vision Looks Like
Are you in a career that looks like what you envisioned or are you bumbling along and taking whatever position comes your way? Rosa Parks famously dreamed of a racially desegregated world. Eleanor Roosevelt envisioned a world of equal opportunity for women and minorities. Compelling visions can truly change lives and even the world. If you’ve never stopped to envision your future, you have no idea what you are doing or what you are looking for as the next step in your career. By spending time envisioning your future career, you get clear on who to network with and what informational interviews would be helpful to move you forward in your career. You know whether your current employer aligns with your values. You know whether you should be planning a physical move in the not too distant future or find a more permanent residence right where you are. You are excited about the growth opportunities coming your way, because they are going to move you closer to that beautiful future. So what’s stopping you from getting clear on your career vision and creating a vision board today?
Now that you know how critical a vision is for your career, you’re ready to create a vision board for your bright future and capture where you’re headed, what your vision looks like, and even how you will feel when you achieve that vision.