‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’ [asked Alice.]
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the [Chesire] Cat.
‘I don’t much care where—’ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
‘—so long as I get somewhere,’ Alice added as an explanation.
‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.’
Does this discussion sound like a recent or past performance appraisal discussion or one with your manager related to a promotion or career advancement; where it sounds like you’re literally and figuratively going in circles. And in frustration, you just want to go somewhere, anywhere; as long as you’re not in the same place where you have been.
The quote, “If you don’t know where you‘re going, any road will take you there“ is essentially a paraphrase of this exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Chapter 6 of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
When we don’t have a personal vision for ourselves of where we want to be in our life and career; a similar scenario may be playing out.
What is a vision?
“Every time you state what you want or believe, you’re the first to hear it. It’s a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. Don’t put a ceiling on yourself.” – Oprah Winfrey
A personal vision or vision statement is a brief summary of your ultimate career goal and key attributes.
In a few sentences you should outline what it is you would like to do; this doesn’t mean you have to be specific about the exact role you want. Rather, your vision statement should answer the question where do you see yourself and why you want to get there?
Why is it important to have a vision?
“A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.”
– Brian Tracy
Clarity – So many of us want to make a change, shift or move for a variety of reasons, but without a specific sense of direction we can wind up making moves that don’t necessarily serve our best interest. We can end up jumping out of the proverbial pot into the fire by landing in a situation similar to the one we just left or in another wrong position. This can be costly, both from a career advancement and personal motivational perspective.
Empowerment – Having a clear vision puts us in control of managing our career to go after what we want.
The mistake many of us tend to make is looking to others to tell us what to do next. Sometimes this is appropriate, as many times there are others around us who can see things we can’t. So, collaborating with trusted thought-partners is a good practice. But when we abdicate this responsibility to others, it can mean placing our destiny in the hands of someone else. Like, many of us who believe if we do a great job in the organization that it will automatically be recognized and rewarded by management. However, research reflects this is often not the case⎯particularly for professionals of color. So ultimately, we can’t afford to give our power to others when it comes to our careers. Because in most cases, no one will advocate for you, better than you. When it comes to realizing the vision we have for our self, partnering with our manager and others who can support us in achieving our goals and taking the actionable steps needed to go after what we want; empowers us to fulfill our vision and beyond.
Action Plan – When we have the clarity we need and feel empowered to act, we’re then able to formulate an action plan that will help us get there. Your vision statement will help provide the focus needed in creating an action plan that determines your next steps and goals. And depending on your vision, your action plan may include a few or a multitude of steps; either way, you won’t have a clear path to take till you have flushed out what your vision is (and isn’t).
Creating a vision will not be a one and done exercise. As you progress through your career and life, you will find that you may need to reassess and refine your vision. It’s a muscle you will want to utilize and develop to ensure you are staying true to who you are and what you want. Your personal vision will allow you to be the captain of your ship—so take the helm.