“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.
Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” - Carl Jung
If you’re anything like me, the three words that rang in your head the day after you graduated college were, “What happens now?”
They are three simple words tied to not-so-simple emotions: anxiety mixed with excitement, uncertainty mixed with determination, doubt mixed with ambition.
I was waiting for an “a-ha” moment, for lightening to strike, for someone to tell me what the rest of my life was going to look like because the reality was I had no idea. I had no clear vision for what was next or what I even really wanted. I mean, I knew I wanted a job. I wanted to make money. I wanted to meet new friends. I wanted to be happy. But what did that all really mean? What did that really look like?
I had been doing what most of us were told to do growing up: dream big. But we all know that dreaming big can only get you so far if you have no clear vision when it comes to bringing things to life. This meant that I had to start getting specific not only about what kind of job I wanted, but more importantly what kind of work spoke to my strengths, how much money I would need to support my lifestyle, what personalities I wanted to surround myself by, and what happiness looked like for me.
It was time to stop looking outside of myself and start looking within.
That meant being mindful and intentional each day about what made me feel grateful, inspired, and engaged. That meant figuring out what I needed in my work to be at my best, what kind of organizational mission I could connect to, and how I added value to any team I was a part of. That also meant identifying what I needed to be successful and who I needed to turn to for resources.
It involved figuring out how to ground myself in times of high stress and recognize the importance of disconnecting from the world to practice self-care. Most importantly, it took asking myself the hard questions to understand who I was and what I wanted my work and life to look like. Without that clear vision, it’s easy to feel directionless in the face of too many options.
Ultimately, what I learned is that in a time when we naturally seek answers to these hard questions outside of ourselves, whether it be from self-help books, expert advisors, the internet, or perhaps loved ones, the key is to have an honest conversation with yourself, not about what you want to do for the rest of your life, but about what kind of person you want to be. And if the possibilities about who you could potentially be seem overwhelming, think about it this way: "You can’t be anything you want to be, but you can be a whole lot more of who you already are" (Tom Rath).
Ultimately, what I know is this: with clarity of vision comes focus, strength, and purpose. And with that, the alignment of your choices and your values become the foundation upon which you can build a career and life that works for you and only you.
This blog post is sponsored by VSP® Vision Care, the nation’s only not-for-profit vision care company with the mission to help people see. Talk to your employer about getting started with VSP this open enrollment season.