How to set up a clear vision and your professional objectives?
Updated: Dec 6, 2019
Happy Friday everyone!
For those who don't know me, my name is Anaïs and I'm SO glad to have you here for this very first blog post! This is kicking off "a year of boldness" programme that I am rolling out as part of Vaillance Agency services and I'm thrilled to get started!
Just to give a bit more intro about what's coming, I'll be posting and sharing content on a monthly basis with a simple objective: helping you to progress on your professional journey and be the bold version of yourself. For the next 12 months, there will be 12 different topics we'll be exploring so stick around if you're up to the challenge!
What a better way to get started than looking at your objectives and ambitions for the next years to come? Everything is possible because nothing has happened yet! And the great news in all of this? You're the one deciding how does that look like: the clearer the vision, the better.
Why setting up a clear vision is key
Have you ever heard about the saying “You can’t hit a target you cannot see and you cannot see a target you do not have” by Zig Zigla? Well, that’s what being a visionary is all about. You are setting up some clear and reachable objectives for yourself. If tomorrow you were to train for a marathon but you did not know how long is this for or how many miles are we talking about, how would you approach your training and the overall race itself? Being clear that a marathon is 26.2 miles (or 42.195 kilometres if you speak metric system like me!) gets you to visualise the distance, the effort and the training that is required to achieve that challenge. And this is exactly how your career and professional ambitions should be approached.
If you've got a destination lined up and a timeline to get there, then you'll be moving forward towards that destination way more easily and quickly than if it was completely undefined. Now, don’t get me wrong, being clear about where you’re heading does not mean that you can anticipate all the journey (and change of direction) that goes with it, which, by the way, will ruin all the fun! We’ll get to explore the change of direction and why embracing the journey is actually the best part in all of this in another blog post that will come later. But to go back to where we were: by knowing where you're going, half of the job is done.
Think about where you are with your own visioning at the moment: how far can you travel in your future? How does everything look like in 3, 5, 10 years down the line? Is it some kind of approximate clear picture or is it something completely blurry? Either way, let’s explore some options available for you to master the art of being a visionary.
How to set up a clear vision & objectives
Let’s go back to the questions I’ve just asked in the last paragraph. Did you manage to stop for a minute and answer them or did you keep reading? Either way, we need to take a closer eye on this future visioning and assess your skills in that area. So let’s take it easy and travel 3 years down the line: how does your professional life look like? Do you see what you’re doing, where you’re working?
There are two main options that can happen here, the first one being a complete blurry vision. If this is what is happening for you now, let’s try to break it down and understand what’s getting in the way. Is there anything, in particular, that is preventing you to project yourself? Anything holding you back like not knowing where you’d like to be - e.g. in which city/country/continent you see yourself? If yes, I’ve lined up a couple of things you might be interested in the last paragraph of this section so hang tight! If you’re in the case where the vision is blurry but you don’t necessarily know how to approach this, try to project yourself in a year’s time instead, check if you can see something and what’s happening there.
Now that we’ve explored the version where everything is a little bit blurry and unclear, let’s address the version where some of you are clearly picturing themselves into their future professional life. Take a moment to check how everything looks, what is exactly happening, how does that make you feel? Can you take it further to 5 years time? 10 years time? Play around with the timeline and the evolution of the future you, see if things are still very clear or actually the timeline seems to stop around 3 years time.
Just before I get to share the 3 biggest professional visions I’ve set up for myself and lessons learnt out of it, let me share with you one final thing that might help you with the visioning accuracy. Defining the parameters that will impact and form part of how you’re projecting yourself and defining your professional agenda is key. It can be anything from the work itself, the salary, the location, how your days will be filled, etc. Grab a paper and list them down to see how many of these parameters are impacting your vision. Last but not least: keep playing with the timeline, project yourself in 1, 3, 5, 10 years and then bring it back to the present. This is a great opportunity to assess where you are now and if this is on track with where you aim to be.
The 3 biggest visions I’ve had for my career & how they turned out
Now that we’ve explored a bit more about why being clear on where you’re going and some options you’ve got to make that happen, I thought it might be helpful as well to share with you of how visioning has worked out for me. So let’s have a look at the 3 biggest visions I’ve had for my career:
#1 - Being an international buyer
Timeline: None (I was probably aiming to do this for the rest of my life!).
What happened: I’ve worked for 4 years within the Procurement department of 2 international and big corporate companies.
What I've learned: Whilst my vision was originally set to involve a lot of travelling around the world and speaking something like 18 different languages to negotiate with multiple vendors, it turns out that technology and conference calls reduced a lot of the travelling and the language speaking. I mainly spoke English and French and sometimes when lucky, a bit of Spanish.
What it led to: I’ve understood that working for big corporate firms had a lot of advantages and perks but the length and heaviness of processes made projects time-consuming and I decided to try the world of consulting to change environments more regularly and explore new challenges.
#2 - Being a management consultant
Timeline: Work in this industry for the next 10 years (and then, have my own business).
What happened: I’ve worked for a year and a half at a management consulting firm, specialising in procurement and supply chain.
What I've learned: A lot of the skills learnt earlier in my career such as project management were transferable. Additionally, the variety of client work and sector exposure are very much depending on the client pipeline: sometimes it can change every 3 months, sometimes it can be the same client and industry for a year.
What it led to: I needed to explore on the side some of my interest further such as supporting people on their personal and professional development. This actually led to a coaching qualification and brought my ambition of setting up a business earlier on the timeline than initially planned.
#3 - Being a full-time career & business coach
Timeline: The next 30 years or so (looking forward to seeing how this is going to evolve!).
What is happening: This being my current vision, I am still discovering the joys and the challenges of being an entrepreneur but so far so good: I’ve never felt more alive at work since I started my career!
What I've learned (so far): As an entrepreneur, it is critical to distinguish yourself from who you are as a person and who you are as a business owner. The successes or throwbacks of one should not impact the other.
What it led to (so far): Deciding to quit the comfort and salary of a full-time job, developing unexpected skills such as mastering the art of newsletter automation skills.
Before I leave you to get on with your weekend, there is something that is worth remembering in all of this. The art of visioning is useless without the skills to actually review the set vision on a regular basis, as you might have seen from the experiences I’ve shared. As mentioned earlier, we'll get to explore how to embrace the journey that goes with the visioning later down the line so this would be a great opportunity to build on what we covered here.
Hopefully, this was a helpful time travelling exercise for you for the first topic uncovered together, so thanks for sticking with me until the end!
I’d love to hear from you so feel free to drop a comment below!