I’ve noticed a trend recently while perusing LinkedIn. Much of my network are starting new positions. Yet, the rest of my network are actually celebrating ten or more years with their current employers. This got me thinking about the reasons why people decide they need to make a move or whether they are comfortable staying in their current roles. What criteria do they base their decisions on? Do they need to identify new criteria each time they face these decisions? Do they even think about criteria when making key decisions?
We all face choices on our professional journey and reaching the right decision can often be very stressful. But why does it need to be? Isn’t there a way for us to quickly embrace the opportunities that are right for us and discard all the others as just noise that fill our days with irrelevant requests?
Of course, there’s a better way and most professionals have been exposed to it for some time. It’s something your employer does and you may have been a part of its construction. I’m talking about establishing a personal vision for your professional success and then crafting a mission statement that will turn your vision into value.
Establishing a personal vision can be a very difficult thing to do, but will provide you with a sense of direction when confronted with opportunities and challenges. Staying true to your vision for success can ease stressful situations in that often the choice that aligns most closely to the vision becomes clear.
Your vision is based on the beliefs and values you hold most dear. Those pave the way for you to identify which goals are important for you to achieve. Those goals will then help define your vision. But, the exercise of understanding your key values takes sincere introspection and honesty. This can frighten some of us, and it might lead to answers that you didn’t expect. You may learn that your true happiness may result from a vision of service instead of leadership. Or, perhaps travelling the world is your vision and raising a family is not your highest goal.
Once you’ve formulated a clear and meaningful vision, your mission statement can be developed to support your vison and values. Your mission becomes the vehicle in which you can achieve your vision. If your core beliefs and values outline a desire to improve your cultural perspective and knowledge to the best of your ability, then your vision could be to travel the world. With values and vision understood, your mission may be to join the State Department or to enroll in an international business program. The activities you take on, with defined goals, become the foundation upon which you can achieve your vision.
So, once you’ve completed all your mission tasks, does that mean you’ve achieved your vision? Perhaps it does, perhaps not. Perhaps the question then becomes, is the vision still appropriate? We all change as we mature personally and professionally, and our vision will change as well. Just as an organization will frequently assess its direction and alignment, so too should you reflect from time to time on whether your vision still makes sense to you. If your vision as a single person was to become the best skydiver in the world, it may no longer be appropriate once you get married and have children.
Creating both a vision and mission statement can help relieve you of unnecessary stress and angst that we may feel at times, and in the end, don’t we all want a little relief? This may take some work upfront and possibly raise the hairs on the back of our necks as we start to understand ourselves a little better. But, if this exercise can help us see where we really want to be in life and helps us understand how to get there, shouldn’t we jump at the chance?
Tell me your thoughts in the comments and let’s open a dialog. I would be excited to hear other opinions on this topic.
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Jeff is passionate about coaching others to become project management stars. His expertise spans across finance, healthcare, telecommunications and government industries. He is a graduate-level instructor in project management courses and leads educational seminars and writes articles concerning both delivery and management aspects of the profession.
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