Abraham Lincoln said, “In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.” I take that to mean that how you contribute and make a difference each day puts the “life in your years.”
It got me thinking. To have a meaningful career means being driven by a vision or purposeful goal that is connected to making an impact, making a difference. And when you come from the truth of your vision and from a place of positive influence, people and opportunities will be drawn to you.
Many times when we think about career, it’s about setting goals in terms of what we want to achieve, how we can climb the ladder, make more money. That’s all good. We all need goals. But to have true sense of accomplishment and purpose, if your overall vision is tied into how you make a difference or how you can make an impact, then it really does give your life and career a lot more meaning. And, here’s the surprising bonus: this type of vision mindset helps you to think about ways in moving forward with opportunities that maybe you wouldn't have thought of before. Then, the difference or impact that you make becomes part of your legacy.
Your vision will to continue to be refined as your career progresses, as you become clearer about what’s truly important to you.
Here are some questions to ask yourself so you get clear on your career and life vision. And, free yourself up here. Your vision is fluid. Let yourself really dream with this exercise. Let go of barriers including time and environment and money to think about where you want to go in your life.
- What kind of impact do you want to make and on whom?
- What kind of difference do you want to make and with whom?
- Your legacy IS the impact that you leave behind. What do you want to be remembered for?
- Start small – you can incorporate small changes toward your vision before you take any giant leaps or make any big changes to your current circumstances.
- Describe what your dream job looks like as you’re making the kind of difference you want to make. And really get detailed here. Do some ‘creative visualization’ where you put yourself in the space of doing what you want to do. What does your typical day look like? Include the environment, include the sights and smells and sounds, what your responsibilities are, your time, the impact that you're making, the kind of money you're making, where it is in the world, who you have working for you or with you or partnering with you. Try to paint a typical day. Take one day because it makes it more specific, take one day and paint what that looks like. And then what will your life look like if you have the career of your dreams? What kind of relationships will you have? Where would you live in terms of what kind of home you would live in? How would you spend your spare time?
Simply put, when determining your career vision, ask yourself what kind of impact you want to make and on whom. Clearly stated, your vision becomes real.