From Goal-setting to Pathfinding and Vision-casting

I will never forget how desperate I was to get out of event planning.

I was doing everything I’ve been explaining to you in this course. I was thinking about my strengths and values; I was trying to figure out my zone of genius. And to be honest, I was basically living in the future, obsessing over how to achieve this goal.

Then one day at work, I took a break from my usual lunch-break brainstorming and listened to a commencement speech by Steve Jobs.

Jobs said, "You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future."

I was sitting at my desk when I was listening to this and found myself bawling my eyes out over my sandwich.

Up until this point, I felt like my dream career was sitting on the other side of this giant black abyss. But I couldn’t figure out how to cross it to reach my goal.

After hearing Jobs’ advice, something clicked. Instead of obsessing about the future, I took some time to reflect on how far I had already come in my career.

As I looked back, I began to see connections that I had missed before. I started to realize that it was no longer necessary to cross the abyss.

All I had to do was take the next step and over time, I would find a path that would bring me not just to a specific career goal, but closer to the vision I had for my life.  

In this lesson, I’m going to share with you why pathfinding can be more helpful than goal-setting. I’ll also explain how to cultivate a vision for your life. And how to design goals that actually help you.  

You and I are probably the same in that we love goals.

We love to-do lists.

We love practical action steps.

But when it comes to changing your career, pathfinding is a much better process to embrace than goal-setting.

Here are three reasons why.

First, pathfinding allows you to focus more on discovering the right steps to take on a moment-by-moment basis and less on trying to achieve a specific outcome.

Pathfinding is different from goal-setting in that it allows you to make decisions based on the information you have in real time.

This is especially helpful when you’re seeking to change jobs because the job-searching process involves so many unknowns.

You can’t control when organizations post jobs

You have no way of knowing who else is applying,  

And you probably won’t ever know the hiring timeline.

Pathfinding doesn’t require you to keep track of these factors, it allows you to explore possible options and make the best decision with the information you have.

Here’s a second way pathfinding is different from goal-setting.

It allows you to change your path based on how your needs and preferences change.

When you’re path-finding, you’re exploring; you’re collecting intel.

You can be much more flexible and change your direction as you learn new things about yourself and the options you have.

This is the best thing about pathfinding. It totally redefines success.  

Instead of feeling pressure to reach ambitious goals, success comes from exploring, learning, and adapting.

Don’t get me wrong: goals are great. But only when they involve small, tangible things you can do right now to move yourself along your path.  

For example, when I was stuck in event planning, I was doing everything I could to find a better job.

I was constantly on Google looking for career development advice.

I was going to every webinar on career planning that I could find,

And every week, I emailed professionals in other fields begging them to meet with me so I could learn about their careers.  

All of these were tangible steps I took as I explored my path and pursued the vision I had for my life and my career.

Now, I get it. Vision might sound a little mystical and esoteric

When I hear the word “vision,” I think of staring into a crystal ball or something. Let’s break it down.

Vision-casting simply means taking everything you know about who you are, your values, and your priorities,and using them to set an intentional direction for your life.

It’s not about buying things or making a certain amount of money. Vision is much bigger than that. It’s not something you achieve or get.

It’s a kind of presence that you cultivate with the choices you make on a daily basis.

Cultivating your vision means continually reflecting on things like:

What kind of person do I want to be?

What kind of effect do I want to have on others and the world?

What values will shape how I spend my time, money, and energy?

Vision is crucial, especially when it comes to work.

Without it, you’re more likely to chase job after job... continually unsatisfied, unfocused, and unsure without knowing why.

When you have a vision, you have clarity, you know what matters.

You don’t spend your time on half-way solutions.

You’ve now made it to the end of the blueprint. I know you might be wondering about resumés and cover letters and how to ace an interview.

But I want to encourage you to pause that monologue. What’s most important right now is that you take everything you’ve learned in this course and start exploring possible career options.

There’s no pressure right now. Just go for it. Get comfortable learning how to evaluate each option based on what you know about yourself.

Think about how it fits your strengths, your value, and your interests.

Once you find a career option that fits you, set a few simple goals to move yourself forward.

If you find that the path doesn’t fit for some reason, that’s okay. Move off it and on to exploring another path.

The goal here is to find a path that fits you while positioning you to actualize your life vision.

In closing, I want to leave you with some quotes from The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. He writes:

“Chances come to us all, but only those who are ready recognize them.

You don’t need some big plan. You just need to be a little dissatisfied.

You don’t need a lucky break or a golden opportunity. What you do need is the desire and willingness to begin.”

I can’t wait to hear where you go from here.