Popular wisdom holds that life is a journey, and we move from infancy to childhood to youth to maturity and eventually old age. Of course, everyone knows it’s not nearly that simple; life is not linear.
There are side trips and segues, missteps and derailments along the path of life, and the same is true of your career. When it comes to your professional life, having a vision is often the difference between going far afield and staying (or getting back) on track.
You assume that vision is critical when you’re a young professional just starting out, when you need to have a good plan for how you want your career to progress. You might also believe that vision is less important as you grow older and your remaining years in the work force grow short. At GetFive, we recommend you develop incremental visions — five years, 15 years, 40 years.
Vision is essential at any age, and here’s why:
How can you find your bliss if you’re not looking for it anymore?
Humans are happiest when we’re working toward goals, and unhappy when we get diverted. Goals give us something to strive for, hope of achieving something, and satisfaction when we accomplish them. When you have goals, you’ll be less bothered by minor problems because you’ve got a bigger picture in mind that you’re working toward. Vision and goals give you control. With a vision, you are on your career journey without a map and no way to steer.
Vision helps you move on.
Life is a series of ups and downs, and your career will also include peaks and valleys. Vision helps you move past challenges because you can keep them in perspective — you’ll see minor setbacks for what they are, rather than allow them to seem insurmountable. And when big problems do arise, you’ll have better perspective for handling those, too.
Retirement isn’t the end of the line.
Whether you retire early or at your full retirement age, chances are good you’re going to have decades of life left. Vision helps you live those years to the fullest! While the portion of your vision that focuses on your career may have drawn to a close — and many people are choosing to do part-time or volunteer work in retirement — you still have a lot of plans and decisions to make. What will you do in retirement? Where will you live? How will you keep your mind stimulated and your body active? Having a vision for your retirement can help you feel more in control of those years.
So how do you develop your Fifteen-year Vision or Forty-Year Vision®? We advise starting by asking yourself these questions about what you think/want your life to look like in 15 years:
- What is your life like in 15 years?
- Who are your friends? What do they do for a living?
- What is your relationship with your family?
- Are you married? Single?
- Do you have children and what are their ages?
- Where are you living? What does it look like?
- What are your hobbies and interests?
- What do you do for exercise?
- How is your health?
- How do you take care of your spiritual needs?
- What kind of work or work-substitute are you doing?
- What else would you like to note about your life right now?
Finally, one of the most valuable aspects of having a vision is that it gives you freedom to dream — and a guideline for how you can make those dreams a reality. Want to retire to the French Riviera by age 55 and spend your days writing novels? Plan to launch your own business after retiring from your corporate job?
Whatever you dream of doing, it pays to have a vision for how you’ll achieve it — a vision that inspires you and informs your every career move to help drive you toward that goal.