6 Genius Reasons for Having A Personal Vision and Professional Mission

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I am the Career Architect for social workers and those pursuing a social work career. The social work profession offers vast opportunities for individuals to use their skills, abilities and knowledge in an array of industries. Today, however, I want to discuss the importance of having a personal vision for one’s life and a professional mission to address one’s hopes for a satisfying and successful career.

I attended the NASW Georgia Chapter Annual Conference in Atlanta this past week. If you have ever driven in Atlanta, GA, you know that it is an experience unlike many others. Drivers in Los Angeles, Dallas, DC or any other major city can relate to what I am about to describe.

When driving in Atlanta, particularly during rush hour, all of the lanes are full of cars, trucks, and vans. Drivers are driving about 10 miles over the posted speed limit and switching lanes without notice. At certain points several lanes of I 675 or I 285 are merging onto the several lanes of I 75 or I 85. Suddenly the cars will slow to a crawl. As the cars crawl for miles, traffic backs up on off and on ramps. Then traffic begins to move again. Drivers don’t have to wonder what caused the slow down because we can see the accident involved cars moved to the narrow emergency lane on the side of the interstate.

This whole scene is a nightmare for drivers, who are not accustomed to driving in this type of traffic. It is also tremendously harrowing for drivers, who are unfamiliar with the area and who have to find their way to a particular location.

This is the situation I was in on Wednesday afternoon when I arrived and on Friday evening when I left the conference. Although I had attended the conference last year, it had been a year since I traveled to Atlanta for any reason. Now, I can navigate traffic in Jacksonville, Savannah and other smaller markets, but Atlanta is a totally different experience. Like most people, I used the direction app that was on my phone. It provided voice guided instructions to my destination. Pull up a mapping app such as Google Maps on your cell phone, computer or tablet.

It occurred to me that the app provides a map and travel directions and also provides an excellent way to describe the benefit of having a personal vision and a professional mission. A personal vision is an illustration that describes the lifestyle or life that one desires to live. It is a comprehensive picture of one’s daily existence or being throughout one’s lifetime. This includes activities, interactions, feelings, expressions and all aspects that make us satisfied with ourselves and our lives. One’s mission encompasses the actions, thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs that one uses to reach the stated vision.

Using the driving app as a metaphor, the vision is one’s destination and the mission is the method one uses to arrive to the destination. The method is multi-faceted and includes the vehicle, the roads, and the app itself. A mission has goals, objectives and action steps.

Think of the personal vision and professional mission as your own personal career development app. The direction app performs the following and so will your vision and mission.

Clearly defines the starting and stopping point. The direction app (Vision and Mission) provides clarity regarding the destination. One knows where they are going. Crafting a satisfying and successful career is defined by one’s personal and professional desires. Professionals often find themselves in bewildering situations because their personal and professional desires are incongruent. As their careers progress and evolve, the incongruence becomes more apparent which sometimes lead to despair and frustration.

Takes the shortest route. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. One’s professional mission is detailed with goals, objectives and action steps that directly relate to one’s vision. The quickest way to achieving one’s career goals is to develop a detailed plan. The mission provides clarity and focus; the plan provides direction.

Announces hazards, slow downs, and proposes alternate routes. My direction app announced slowing traffic, construction and accidents miles before I saw it. This was a major help because it also provided an option to take an alternate route. Having a professional mission with a detailed plan will allow the professional to anticipate hazards or hindrances that might slow or negate progress. It will also allow adjustments and recalculations.

Gets you back on track faster. Sometimes one takes a detour, side road, or wrong turn. A professional mission provides clarity and focus. A clearly defined plan gets one back on track using the shortest route available. Life takes many strange twists and turns and it is easy to lose focus or get sidetracked. Although one has a vision, it is not uncommon for the vision to adjust to one’s life circumstances. Sometimes the adjustment is so severe over time that the vision completely changes or is discarded completely. A professional mission that is integrated into one’s personal vision will remain and thrive in spite of life’s happenings.

Prepares you for your next move. My direction app announced every turn repeatedly several miles before I needed to turn. The directions were repeated more frequently the closer I came to the turn. At one point I chuckled because I imagined that the electronic voice sounded a little anxious as if it thought I was going to miss a turn. A professional mission with a detailed plan provides specific directions and reminders regarding the actions that one needs to take.

Provides travel time and an estimated time of arrival. An exciting aspect of a professional mission is having a clearer idea of the time frame one can expect to achieve the personal vision. The mission limits the reliance on chance and fate. When I left my home driving to Atlanta, I knew that I had a four hour 28 minute drive. The app adjusted the time based on traffic patterns. I felt peace knowing that I was on track to arrive at my destination as expected.

Everyone uses apps. Everyone will not have their own personal vision or professional mission. Set yourself apart by developing and reaping the benefits of your own.

I would love to hear from you. You may join the conversation by commenting on this post on our Facebook fan page REAL Social Workers Online Magazine, joining the “Social” Social Workers Project or connecting with me on LinkedIn.

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