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Future Perfect: Creating Meaning Through Vision

by Mark Guterman and Dan King

Photo of man thinkingSettle back. Close your eyes. Imagine that it’s December 31st, 2013. You just completed the most meaningful year of your work life — and it’s time to savor the year just past.

  • How is your worklife better than it was on December 31st, 2012?
  • What did you accomplish? What made you most proud?
  • What obstacles and challenges did you overcome?
  • How did your year reflect and embody your most important values?
  • What goals remain incomplete or unfulfilled?
  • How are you thinking/feeling about your career and life right now?

Questions like these, and the answers they provoke, are part of a process of “visioning”, that helps us break out of limitations and old patterns — and create energy for a future filled with meaningful options and possibilities. Visioning motivates, inspires, and brings to light paths that may not be obvious at first glance or thought.

In the course of living and working, we can easily get stuck in routine day-to-day tasks with little connection to a positive and meaningful future. As career coaches, we witness firsthand the unhappiness of people who, in order to acquire funds to live, sacrifice their values and beliefs, believing that somehow they will achieve success and happiness along the way. Yet, another year passes, nothing changes, and they proclaim that this new year will be the one that finally brings career happiness.

Meaningful work doesn’t just happen; you have to create it. And to do so, you have to start with the ending. “Living happily ever after” only makes sense when you can define what “living happily” means. “Ever after” will happen regardless.

What does living happily mean to you? What do you want?

For most, these are difficult questions. Sure, we want success — or money — or meaning — but these are concepts, not goals. You can’t take action on a concept. You need to start with a career vision statement, something that will translate your concept of happiness into clear goals. Your career vision statement requires a careful alignment of your purpose, interests and values. It needs to be articulated in a way that enables you to recognize it when you see it. We achieve what we can envision.

  • How do you envision that your worklife will be better on December 31st, 2013?
  • What will you have did you accomplished? What will make you most proud?
  • What obstacles and challenges will you overcome?
  • How will your year reflect and embody your most important values?
  • What goals did you complete or fulfill?
  • What do you want to be thinking/feeling about your career and life?

Former professional football player and retired coach for the Indianapolis Colts, Tony Dungy once said:

“Only vision allows us to transform dreams of greatness into the reality of achievement through human action. Vision has no boundaries and knows no limits. Our vision is what we become in life.”

The beginning of a new year always triggers new hope and optimism. We’re envisioning a year where more and more people achieve what they want, so that on December 31st, we can all celebrate the achievement of our individual and collective visions.

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