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Developing Your Vision of the Future

Expand your planning from what is to what could be.

This post is part of a series of posts on the 4D career development framework I use with clients.

Kate Brooks
4-D Model
Source: Kate Brooks

Click here for the introductory post and here for the 1st phase of the process: Discover. The first phase, "Discover Your Strengths" was “all about you”; the "Develop Your Vision" phase adds “what’s out there.” As you think about your next step or your future goals, you can be both practical and visionary. The "Develop Your Vision" phase should be energizing for you: you have the opportunity to look at “what might be.” You can examine all your hopes and dreams related to your future—and perhaps discover new futures you hadn’t previously considered.

When using the 4D cycle, each phase can be about all aspects of your future; not just your career goals. You can also use this "Develop Your Vision" period to imagine specific projects like a book you want to write, an app you want to develop, or a specific activity at work. You might chose a goal that centers around living a more balanced life, a desire to go calmly and smoothly through an interview, do a masterful job interview, to finish college within another year, etc. (The next phase, Design, helps you set up the steps to attain your plans.)

Initially, this is a place to expand your ideas. Once again, the internal critic is likely to jump in and tell you what is realistic. We’ll deal with “realistic” shortly. Start by writing down all your so-called wild ideas and consider them as if they could happen. The vision is a pasture, so to speak, for your ideas to roam. Once they’ve had a chance to roam and you can think them through to completion, you can determine whether they are the right path for the moment.

Get the list you created earlier in the “Discover” phase covering your strengths and interests and look at it in conjunction with the list you just developed.

  • What strengths, interests, and traits do you want to continue using or do you want to develop at your next job or enterprise? What jobs fit those traits or interests?
  • What observations can you make about what you learned in "Discover" and what you're currently doing? Perhaps you discovered a disconnect between who you are and your current job. How does what you're doing compare to what's on your goal list?
  • Maybe your current situation is stressful and you’d like your next situation to be less so.
  • Maybe you need to earn more money or maybe you need a more structured environment.

As you think about your next move, consider issues like location—whether location is completely open or whether you have restraints. Just remember: when thinking about possible roadblocks or limitations, ask yourself whether these are real or whether they self-imposed. That may determine the viability of your goal. And if you can’t attain your exact goal, what related careers can you consider? If you’re not sure, that’s a great time to find a career coach or counselor to help you think them through.

The Appreciative Inquiry Anticipatory Principle states that we are more likely to move forward when we can see a clear picture, and when we can bring something of our past along with us. So as you work in this phase, set a goal to make your vision come alive.It’s important to be able to picture the end goal as clearly as possible so you will be able to move forward; don’t worry yet about the steps to get there—that’s in the next phase. For the moment, focus on the overall goals. You will do the necessary work soon.

Do you need to find more ideas about “what’s out there”? Consider these resources:

One of my favorite books for uncovering new career ideas is the new edition of Careers for Dummies by Marty Nemko. In Section 2 (pages 29-154), Nemko breaks down 340 occupations into 8 categories. Many of the occupations are cutting-edge, new opportunities you might never have known about, much less considered. As you read through his lists note if any category or career sounds interesting. He also indicates the viability of various career choices to make sure you have a realistic picture of potential success. Here are just a few; you can find much more information in Nemko's book:

People careers: helping, selling, fund-raising, etc. Sample careers for which he provides links and resources include sports psychologist, social worker, organizational developer, personnel recruiter, industrial sales, and casting director.

Word careers: writing, speaking, and communicating. Sample careers for which he provides links and resources include organizational communicator, proposal writer, journalist, talk show host, librarian, etc.

People + Word careers: managing, educating, and defending others. Sample careers for which he provides links and resources include project manager, performing arts manager, political campaign manager, nonprofit manager, teacher, online course developer, etc.

STEM careers: biology, physics,engineering, math, etc. Sample careers for which he provides links and resources include gene editing, exercise physiologist, cancer registrar, criminalist, engineer, acoustician, biostatistician,etc.

STEM + People + Words careers: Combination of science/math skills plus communication and people-oriented careers. Sample careers for which he provides links and resources include physician, legal nurse consultant, infectious disease specialist, sports medicine, business careers, etc.

Hands-on Careers: artistic, mechanical, animals, etc. Sample careers for which he provides links and resources include computer technician, avionics technician, golf course superintendent, geospatial analyst, polygraph examiner, service dog trainer, graphic artist, landscape architect, etc.

Self-employment careers: Sample careers for which he provides links and resources include personal chef, home inspector, personal coach, speaking or writing advisor, organizing coach, selling products online, etc.

In addition to Nemko's book, here are some websites that can help you broaden your vision of the opportunities out there:

US News 100 Best Jobs

US News Career Section

Occupational Outlook Handbook

If you took the My Next Move test on the ONET mentioned in the post on Discover, you can use the scores you received to keep drilling down on the job which fit your answers, and your education level. Here’s a post about how to get the most out of your ONET scores.

Still pondering what to do? Try putting a keyword based on your primary skill or interest into Add a geographic location and see what shows up. For example, let’s say you’re seeking a job that involves working with animals in Orlando, FL. A search on Indeed finds over 400 jobs ranging from animal care technician to warehouse worker at Petco to positions in an animal hospital to a barista position at a coffee shop in the Animal Kingdom! Read through the different job descriptions, noting which ones sound interesting to you.

So what’s your goal? Maybe something like this:

  • to find a new job where I will use more of my talents
  • to promote my business
  • to develop an interesting business I can take into my retirement
  • to create a new website or app for my business
  • to become a nurse
  • to become a creative arts teacher
  • to become an educational consultant
  • to develop my leadership skills and move into management
  • to find a job where I can use my skill in…
  • to find a way to incorporate my love of music into what I do
  • to find a job where I can be autonomous and help influence people

And how can you make your vision of this goal clearer?

Try picturing yourself living this new life. Try picturing yourself “living the dream”:

  • What will your life look like three months into your new job?
  • What are you doing? What setting are you in?
  • Where are you living? How have you fixed up your new residence?
  • Where will you go out to eat?
  • What are you enjoying most about your new situation?

As you think about this future, how are you feeling? Are you gaining energy as you visualize everything? That’s usually a good sign.

What do you already know about your future plans? How much information about your plans do you need to acquire? What skills or knowledge do you need to acquire?

If you still don’t have a vision for your future, you might need outside assistance to think through possibilities. A career coach, career counselor or vocational psychologist can help. Friends and family can help as well; just remember that while they know you better, they may have biases that could influence their level of objectivity.

Once you have your goals in mind, it’s time to move to the next phase and set up the action plan that will help you attain your goal. The next phase is called "Design the Path" and will help you get from where you are to where you want to go.

© 2018 Katharine S. Brooks, all rights reserved.

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