Inside: How to vision board career and life criteria to chart a path forward that fits your wants, needs, and goals. Visual learners – this one is for you!
Have you ever felt decision fatigue?
Silly question. As a parent and professional, of course, you have! You have a laundry list of decisions to make on the daily at work and at home and it can be exhausting.
So, let’s take one of your career-related decisions off your plate, shall we? Or at least ensure that decision is MUCH easier to make.
Enter Career & Life Criteria, a tool that you can build with words OR images, that will allow you to assess the right move and then move on with your day. As a career coach, it’s my favorite career development tool, hands down.
We’ll walk through what Career & Life Criteria are, why a vision board Career & Life Criteria exercise works, and how to vision board your Career & Life Criteria to reach your goals.
What is Career & Life Criteria
Think about your Career & Life Criteria as a map, a guide, and the best friend of any busy parent and professional who needs help choosing which direction to point their minivan.
So often, as parents and mid-career professionals, we try to make decisions by comparing them against each other. We make pros and cons lists, worry a lot, and sometimes get so overwhelmed that no decision seems better than any decision at all.
However, when you have a clearly defined list of the Career and Life factors that matter most to you and WHY, you can use this list as a tool to…
- Identify companies that meet your criteria
- Decide if entrepreneurship is a fit for you
- Ask GREAT questions in networking conversations and interviews
- Protect your time by only pursuing roles that align with your wants and needs.
I coach parents to put their Career & Life Criteria into a list of 10 sentences that include the WHAT and the WHY behind it, so it’s a powerful list that reminds you what you want and need.
Examples of Career & Life Criteria Sentences
You’re here because you’re a visual learner, so let me give you some examples of Career & Life Criteria to sink your teeth into.
Note these criteria are not all for the same person! Everyone’s criteria will look different based on what you need and want in your career.
Career & Life Criteria Example: I need time to collaborate and time to work solo. I need both interpersonal interaction and the time to work independently to be effective and happy.
Career & Life Criteria Example: I want the stability of a steady income of $100K with full medical benefits so that I can afford to live in Boston, enjoy cultural activities, and travel to see my family.
Career & Life Criteria Example: To be happy at work, I need to be surrounded by a team of colleagues I enjoy who will become key parts of my social circle outside the office. Personal connections are critical to my overall happiness.
Career & Life Criteria Example: Being present for my family is important to me. I need a job where I can work remotely and be available to get my kids on and off the bus. Before and after school time is key to me and my family.
The criteria should focus on your Needs, Motivators, Day to Day Work, People, and Future You. We’ll dive into those categories more below as we walk through the vision board exercise.
Why a Vision Board Career & Life Criteria
Before we get into HOW to vision board career criteria, let’s dig into the WHY.
This exercise came directly from a Career Clarity Program member, we’ll call her Beth, who was excited to dive into crafting her career criteria. Having a tool that would help her make the best decisions for herself was super appealing. As a busy mom, she had decision fatigue and she needed the structure.
However, as Beth got into the activity she found herself stuck. She had answers to the prompts we provided in the program but struggled to put what mattered most to her into words. Instead of staying stuck, Beth asked for help and we introduced another tool for her to get her criteria onto paper – vision boarding!
For visual learners, images can be a way to put your thoughts down on paper without getting fixated on finding the exact right words. You will likely find that the words start to flow, though, once you have images to inspire your thoughts.
Visuals also help us tap into a different part of our brain so we’re sparking creativity. Plus, our brains assign more value to images over written words, so with vision boards we’re elevating the value of our WHY and keeping ourselves focused on our goals.
How to Vision Board Career & Life Criteria
Before you bust out the magazines and glue sticks, let’s break down each of the categories we’re trying to cover on your Career & Life Criteria Vision Board.
What do you need from your job? Think salary, benefits, location, schedule, etc.
What motivates you to do your best work? Mission, values, goals, competition, etc.
Who do you want to surround yourself with? What are the characteristics of a great manager or colleague? Are there certain clients you’d love to work with?
Day to Day
How do you want to fill your day? What skills do you want to use, what activities do you want to participate in, and what problems do you want to solve?
What does future you want and need? Think about the big goals for your family, for your career, for retirement, etc. We’re planning ahead for future seasons of life.
Now, with these categories in mind, you can go with the magazine images and glue stick style of vision boarding, but you can also search for images online. I like to use Canva because you can pop in a few keywords and then scroll through images to find images that resonate with you.
That’s what I did here to vision board career criteria for myself:
Breaking down the Vision Board Career Style
As you’re looking at my vision board for Career & Life Criteria above, you’re going to see images that are related to what I want and need most from this chapter of my life.
You don’t see the words FLEXIBILITY and FULFILLMENT on the board, but that’s what I am optimizing for so they are reflected in pictures.
For example, the pictures of family and the picture of the school bus represent WHY flexibility is so important to me. I want to be present for kids, especially during certain hours of the day. This is related to my people, needs, and motivators.
You’ll also see images of books and links – connection and creativity are important day-to-day activities for me as well as motivators.
I also included images that represent future goals – regular beach vacations, the New York Times Bestseller List, and the ripple effects of my work going further than I can even imagine. That’s future me!
Craft Your Career & Life Criteria Vision Board
Are you ready to create your vision board for your career and life?
Give the vision board career criteria exercise a try and let me know how it goes in the comments!
And if you need support in this process, that’s exactly what we do in the Career Clarity Program! Learn more about how we help mid-career parents just like you land fulfilling and flexible jobs they love with this free training.
Meet Your Career Coach
Hi! I’m Becca Carnahan – Career Coach, author, and mom of two. My company, Next Chapter Careers, specializes in helping mid-career parents land fulfilling jobs they love without giving up the flexibility they need.
Prior to launching my own coaching business, I trained as a career coach at Harvard Business School and have 16 years of experience in the career and professional development field. I combine career development expertise with creativity, compassion, and curiosity to help other moms and dads reach their goals.