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When deciding on a possible career change, whether you are considering employment or self-employment, most of us focus only on the end result. However, this can prevent you from examining two aspects that are critical to career planning: your career vision and your career values, both of which will help create a clear direction for your future.
Your Career Vision
Quite simply, your career vision lets you see yourself in your future career. It can include the occupation you wish to perform, how this work fits into your lifestyle, or the impact that you hope to have on the world.
A career vision is a long-term view of your career that helps with goal setting for the future. It can act as your road map—keeping you motivated and inspired through the peaks and valleys of your working life. And as your circumstances change or as you mature through personal and professional growth, you can adjust your vision accordingly.
For best results, we recommend you approach the task of forming your career vision with three separate concepts or considerations in mind: the ideal, your reality, and your actions.
- The Ideal
The ideal starts by clearly defining the type of work you would prefer and what you aspire to achieve in your career. Begin the process by imagining the range of possibilities available, while also considering any interests and special talents that you possess.
Your ideal may involve a specific occupation or role, the impact that you want to have in your role, or the role’s fit with your preferred lifestyle. For example, while one person may dream of becoming a wedding planner, another may want to become a professional artist, yet someone else may want to find a solution to end homelessness.
- Your Reality
In determining your reality the best place to start is by identifying where you are currently in your life and career. This includes taking a realistic look at your work experience, your work history, and your skills and educational qualifications. This analysis will provide you with a realistic framework from which you can begin working towards your ideal future. As you compare your reality to your ideal future, you will begin to see the steps that lay ahead.
To illustrate this, consider the aspiring wedding planner. They would be wise to look at their prospects realistically by assessing any direct experience they already have with organizing events and by identifying any new skills or experience they will need to acquire to be successful.
For those with a less concrete vision of their future career, the same process applies. Begin by examining your employment history and be sure to identify your skills and aptitudes. You will be surprised how motivating it can be to work toward your ideal career vision once you have taken stock of your accomplishments or what you are viewed positively for in your current or prior employment roles.
- Your Actions
A vision must have action to be realized! Without action, your vision will remain nothing more than an idea that remains out of reach.
The path to unleashing your vision begins with your imagination. To start, imagine yourself applying a series of consistent and intentional actions, and continue this exercise by envisioning the end result of those actions.
Take an Olympic athlete, for example. When they visualize their ideal performance prior to actually competing, they can achieve exceptional results. It is incredible what you can achieve in your life when you take actionable steps toward achieving your vision.
Your Career Values
Career values are essential to your working life. Think about how you feel as you perform your work, what you feel you gain, or what lifestyle it allows you to lead.
When someone feels dissatisfied or uninspired at work, this may mean that their work role is not in alignment with their career values, or they have not yet identified their career values. And when it comes to being able to recognize a positive new opportunity, accepting a new job, or pivoting in a new career direction, those who have identified their career values are in a better position to react accordingly. They are also less likely to accept a job that does not align with their career vision.
Employers will often look for specific key values in new employees. Therefore, it is important to show how your career values align with a prospective employer’s values. This will help you appear more confident and positive throughout the job application process. This alone can place you as the most desirable candidate for the job!
Identifying Your Career Values
When identifying your career values, it can be helpful to consider this list of common workplace experiences:
Some values are linked to how the work makes you feel. For example:
Relationships: You enjoy working with others through teamwork and collaboration.
Helping others: You enjoy having a positive impact on the well-being of clients or customers.
Variety: You like working at many different tasks and find routine and repetition quite boring.
Some values are linked to what you gain from the work. For example:
Prestige: The job title, professional image, or social standing associated with the job is important to you.
Job security: Being confident that your job will last for the long term is a key consideration for you.
High income: The level of income that you receive ranks high on your list of priorities.
Other values are related to the lifestyle that comes with your occupation or career choice. For example:
Flexible work arrangements: You prefer being able to set your own hours.
Remote work: Your ideal job gives you the choice of working from home or remotely, either all or part of the time.
Frequent travel: Your lifestyle and preferences are conducive to frequent business trips.
Another option is to consider a list of value words. From the list below, select the 10 words that appeal to you most, or think of your own words. Another approach is to eliminate the words that are unimportant to you. This will help you focus more closely on your key values.
A Process for Identifying Your Career Values
One tool to help you define your career values is hand journalling in a notebook. You could also journal using your computer.
We recommend you use the following questions as a prompt to get started and then read through what you have written. Be sure to highlight the words and phrases that you consider most important. Consider the following bullet points:
- What did I enjoy the most in my previous jobs or volunteer roles?
- What did I enjoy the least?
- Describe the best hour in your work life.
- Describe the worst hour in your work life.
- Aside from getting a regular paycheque, why do I want to work?
Summing it up
As you grow in your knowledge and understanding of your career vision and values, you will become more motivated and interested in your career. This will apply whether you are in traditional employment, self-employed, or just beginning to explore your career options.
Those who are fortunate enough to work in a career that aligns with their career vision and values usually find their jobs the most fulfilling. And remember, if you need guidance with this important task, consider reaching out to a career or business coach, a career services organization in your local community, or our online career assistance and skills training programs that can help you identify and work toward your employment or self-employment goals.
Make A Change Canada provides online supportive programs for individuals who are facing barriers to employment across Canada.
- Online Career Exploration and Job Search Resources for people facing barriers to employment:
If you experience barriers to employment, you could be eligible for services. Visit AnyCareer.ca for more information and to apply online.
- Online Skills Training:
Make A Change Canada offers online employment and job search assistance and web/digital skills training.
- Online STEM Education:
The online Certificate in Web and Digital Technologies Programs (Foundational and Advanced levels) are ideal for those who wish to gain valuable web/digital skills for employment or self-employment. Visit StudyAnywhere.ca for more information and to apply online.
- One-on-one Support:
When you join Make A Change Canada’s Web and Digital Technologies Certificate Programs, you will benefit from the support of dedicated course instructors and teaching assistants. Students receive ongoing assistance during our weekly classroom sessions, online chat or email, and one-on-one assistance sessions. Our overall objective is to help support you in achieving your career and learning goals.