There’s a huge difference between having a job vs career. We have a job. A job is a defined role for specific pay. We do it with our paychecks in mind. We may learn some specific skills on the job, but without the context of progressive achievement, the skills we learn take us nowhere in particular. We are only focused on our specific role and pay little attention to other roles.
We take care of and cultivate a career. A career is an occupation requiring special training which provides the possibility for progressive achievements. Of course, we care what we get paid, but we are not only focused on our paychecks, but on our achievements and the skills we need to continuously improve. We have an eye on the future instead of being grounded solely in the role we currently hold.
Build a career vision
So, which is it for you right now? A job or a career? You can change your future by starting to build your career instead of just doing your job. The first step is to create a career vision. It’s as simple (and as hard!) as imagining your future success. A career vision is unique because it is based on your work values, your overall values and your passion.
Start by thinking through what you value most in a job and working environment. In other words, what does success mean to you? What skills do you want to use? Do you want to be creative? Do you need autonomy or like to have very specific direction? Do you aspire to manage others? What kind of achievements are most important to you? What kind of recognition is important to you (Money? External exposure? more training?). What level of compensation would you like to achieve? What level of job security do you seek? What other company values and work environment factors are important to you (flexible work hours, access to training, company policies for….)?
Now pull it all together. If you don’t already know what industry and/or domain you want to work in, you can explore them with much more purpose if you have your work values in mind. Here’s an example of my 5 year career vision :
Career Vision example
I want to inspire people to achieve the elusive dream of self-fulfillment, success and work/life balance through coaching, speaking, training and writing. In the next 5 years I’d like to transition from full time marketing to establishing a full time practice with a mix of early career professionals and seasoned professionals. I envision some of the accomplishments as a successful, published book, a series of online training courses, exciting opportunities to speak several times a year.
My vision accommodates many of the conclusions I made from thinking through my work values. The fact that I want to work from home, to help others, to have a lot of autonomy are all deeply part of my decision to create my own business. The fact that I want to keep learning and to also teach. My vision also includes making room to continue to do what keeps the bills paid in the short term!
Use this simple outline to build your career vision - no email required! Once you have a vision, you can start building out the stepping stones to get there – career goals. Check out the blog “Plan your career goals - don’t leave your career path to chance” to take your vision and turn it into concrete goals and actions.