Career Goals that Work Part 2: VISUALIZATION

In the last “Your Career” blog post, we reviewed the 5 steps to creating New Year’s career goals that work. We’re a month in, a great time to check in on your planning or better yet, your actual progress towards your career goals. 


First let me say that when I talk about career goals, I am talking about what you need to do, above and beyond your daily responsibilities, that will get you what you want from your career.  It could be learning a new skill, applying for a new job, networking, learning a language, saving to start your own business — possibilities are endless.


Studies have shown that most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned some time in February, right about now!  Over the years I have been one of those people who abandoned their goals before I even got started!  But I have had some very successful years and when I reflect on what made those goals different, it’s that I really felt the pain, the need for change.  I could also see the other side — how my life would be different, better, and I got serious!


If you haven’t gotten very far with your career goals, please don’t beat yourself up and throw in the towel.  It’s never too late to start!  We talk about New Year’s goal setting, because that time of the year feels so hopeful to us. There are lots of celebrations marking the end of one year and the fresh beginning of a new one.  But really, when you start is of no consequence to anyone but you.  Go with what works for you!!  


Let’s also pause to talk about why you haven’t gotten started.  If you found it hard to embrace that commitment you made to yourself, chances are it is because you either don’t truly feel a need for change; or you haven’t visualized the new you, in your new world. You can only see what life is for you right now.  If you don’t feel the need for change, then you may want to reflect on why you made New Year’s goals in the first place.  Were you responding to someone else’s plans for you?  It is entirely possible that you are in the best possible place right now.  If that’s the case, then be unapologetic and own it, live it, love it!


If you really are feeling the need for change, then I invite you to take the first step in the goal setting process: Visualizing your Goals. This will be the focus of today's blog.  Download The 5 steps to Career Resolutions that Work (below)



Simply & clearly state your Career Resolution(s).  Don't be afraid to look further out.  What is your long term goal? Visualize what will be different when you achieve your goal and why it's important to you.  Think positively!  Visualize what will be vs. what won’t be. Be specific.  What will you do?  How will you feel?  What will be different at work and at home with family and friends? If you can visualize that longer term goal, then it makes it easier to make and keep smaller goals that will get you there.


A couple of years ago, I was tired of the many cycles of restructures and layoffs that I was involved in at work and I wanted to be part of something more positive.  I got a pit in my stomach every Sunday night when I thought about facing work on Monday morning.  Something had to change, but what?  I always dreamed of living and working abroad in another culture, for almost my entire adult life. Huge goal right?   For many years I told myself why the time wasn’t right and all the reasons seemed so valid.   

Then one day, I looked up and started to dream about the possibilities.  How I could do something meaningful that would really be of service to other people and give me the experience of working and living abroad.  I could see myself in another land, hands on, working to help others.  I could even see myself willingly doing without all of the creature comforts of home to make it happen (that part of the vision was a huge surprise to me).


I literally created a dreamscape that dove deeper into each area to try to understand what would be different, better.  Keeping all the reasons “why not” at bay — not easy, but imperative if you want to be successful. 


The “why nots” can derail a dream, a visualizatoin, a goal

in a heartbeat!


As part of this visualization exercise, I felt I needed a concrete version of that dreamscape, a vision board. I am such a visual person, that I needed to see  the most important parts of my vision as a reminder. Additionally, the act of creating that collage helped me hone that vision, things became clearer, new ideas flowed to support that vision. 


If all this sounds too “woo woo” for you.  Have no fear.  I have worked with some people who would rather poke their eyes out than cut and paste pictures and words to a board.  If that’s you, that is OK!  I’ve had clients create everything from  a bulleted list, to a graph, some picked one picture, another a cartoon. I even had someone  pick an object that represented their vision.  The most important thing is that there is a concrete representation that is meaningful to you.


There is one more part of this visualization exercise that can improve your success rate.  That is saying it out loud and sharing it with others.  You do need to use caution here and pick your audience very carefully.  Who do you trust?  Choose people who are supportive, honest and have your best interest at heart.  Not the people you think should be your champions, but the people who have proven that they are.  


Be clear on what you want from those with whom you are sharing your vision.  This can be a fragile time as you are at the beginning stages of creating your actual goal(s).  Many of us have very close relationships with our inner critics (IC).  We even dress them up in fancy outfits called “valid reasons why not”.  You want to engage critical thinkers, but steer clear of those whose default response is why something won’t work.  It can be easy to trigger our IC’s voices and that can derail us before we even get going.


My visualization exercise resulted in me sharing my vision with my boss, my coach, close family and one or two close friends.  I had my big goal and telling folks  made it more real and  bolstered my confidence.  Then I had to figure out what smaller steps or goals I needed to take to reach my big vision.  This is only the beginning of the journey!    My next blog will be a deeper dive into written goals with a concrete plan (Steps #2 and #3). As they say:


"The devil's in the details!".

Let me know what career goals you are working towards and the progress you are making.

5 Steps to Career Resolutions that Work-
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