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3 Things You Must Do to Create a 2021 Career Vision (that sticks!)

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

We can hardly believe the end of 2020 is here! It was a year that challenged us all and showed us how much resilience and strength matters.

And as one of the women in our community reflected on her career transition this year, “you have to get comfortable with the uncomfortable”.

For 2020, that meant getting comfortable with not knowing. With being flexible. Adapting to the moment. Even if we had to reconfigure our plan, it helped to have an idea for our future as a starting point and a North star.

What’s in store for 2021? We all want a brighter future, especially this year.

What do you see happening for yourself in your career? How will you get there? You want a reset. What will you retain from your time living and working during covid? What will you cast aside?

In January, setting goals for the next year is top of mind. Inevitably, however, 80% of New Year's resolutions fail by February. How do you make your goals for the coming year stick?

The secret is to set your vision first, rather than focusing immediately on your goals.

Vision is the image you see for your future, whereas goals are specific targets or sets of tactics that move you towards your vision. While goals help you to stay focused and on track, your vision is your Northstar. Having a vision of your future will inspire you to stick with your goals and will fuel your perseverance. Research demonstrates that having a vision helps women stay motivated at work. A defined vision ensures the outcomes we pursue are intentional.

Here are three things you must know (and do!) to start developing a clear vision -- that big-picture future self.

1.Reflection for Your Big Picture Future Self

It’s hard to think about long term professional dreams in the abstract. It’s difficult to know where to begin. With competing demands, women often put their career dreams on the back burner.

That’s why it’s often not until midlife that we wake up wanting more from our work lives -- more meaning, more fulfillment, more challenge. One of the first steps to distill a career vision is to think about the components that will drive you in your next chapter.

Start by asking yourself these questions:Draft a list of the values that shape you now and narrow down the shortlist to five that speak to you.

  • Think about your past interests - what activities do you love? Which come naturally to you?

  • What did you love to do as a child?

  • What current interests or activities do you lose yourself in -- whether for work or in other parts of your life?

  • What “superpower” do people in your life look to you for help or advice?

  • What’s the most fulfilling professional role (paid or unpaid) you’ve had and why?

  • What are the elements in your life you need to “work” in order to fulfill this dream? Think about work/life integration.

  • What does success look like for you now?

  • What women inspire you with their careers? Why?

  • What is a problem that needs solving to which you can uniquely contribute?

  • What is the impact you want to have in the next five years?

2. Write it down

Write down your responses to the questions below to start crafting your career vision. Circle the responses that signal “expansion” -- that make you feel like you’re stretching yourself or getting out of your comfort zone. In addition, circle patterns, trends or areas that have remained constant for you.

Craft four sentences about how you see your life in five years: what are you doing, why you are doing it and what impact you are having in the world.

Career visions cement our desires and enhance our well-being. Putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) makes it more likely to stick. Writing a letter to your future self is a method that can help you paint a picture of the life you want and increase your odds of achieving it.

Research demonstrates the power of writing for career success: You become 42% more likely to achieve your dreams and goals simply by writing them down on a regular basis.

3. Share your goals with others

Connecting with others who support your vision is key to this process. The more you share your vision with others, the greater points of connection you build for people to help you advance.

Reflecting on your achievements and goals is common in the workplace. But what if you’re transitioning from a career break or wanting to change industries and you’re left to figure it out on your own?

Research demonstrates that women who plan together have higher aspirations. We know that women who support women are more successful in their work and are happier too.

Why try to sort it all in isolation? This year has shown us we need community more than ever for connection, inspiration and accountability!

Here it straight from the women in or Fall Reinvention Collective cohorts, EvolveMe’s signature 10-week virtual training program:

“My win for the fall? Signing up for the Reinvention Collective! I’t just what I need and I’m so much clearer in where I want to head now with my career!”

“EvolveMe was one of the smartest gifts I’ve ever given to my professional self. It’s a safe space, serious and full of good information. I love engaging with smart women who care about their careers. Thank you!”

“The Collective is absolutely what I need. I need the self-evaluation and learning how to address what’s holding me back.”

Join EvolveMe in 2021 and start the year with a group of women already in your corner. Check out our website for opportunities to connect with other others interested in professional transition and make a commitment to yourself for 2021!

Sign up for a 1:1 Reinvention Breakthrough Session to learn if the Collective is a match for you!


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