Mindful Careers: Vision

A vision is a mental image of the future. Make time to snap your very own “picture”.

Mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga, creative arts, taking more time off, and being in nature without an agenda create space, preparing your mind for creating this mental image. At Bright Livelihoods, the practice that brings forth the vision for your next career chapter is using your imagination –  seeing your soul work. Soul work is where your passions and purpose collide, creating work that abounds with meaning and fulfillment. It requires you to open your mind and your heart.

While clarifying your soul work, the vision will come in and out of focus. This is a normal part of the process. Some of you may feel that you have too many ideas for your future. If this is the case, you’ll need to try one or more on for size. If one doesn’t fit, you’ve learned something valuable. Move on to something else rather than forcing the “fit”. If you like multitasking, you’ll not need to choose just one idea; you have the personality to piece together several paths to form a career. I call these portfolio careers.

This idea of envisioning your future has been around a long time. Many cultures incorporate rituals or rites of passage to our future help clarify a vision: Australian Aborigines have walkabouts, while some African tribes have dream ceremonies, and many Native American tribes practice Vision Quests. Members of these cultures gain a strong sense of self and community with these practices.

I am privileged to have been part of a community that practices traditional Native American ceremonies including Vision Quests. Vision Quest is an ancient practice that allows you to fully concentrate on your purpose in life. The process I was a part of required me to be in nature for seven days, once a year for four years with a committed group of people. This ceremony has been handed down for generations and my participation in this process is the foundation of why I do what I do.

Here are some lessons I learned from this experience:

✦ Your goals can be related to relationships, family, health, work, spiritual growth, volunteering or your career.

✦ Your plans for your future can range from the very simple and focused to the exceedingly complex.

✦ The most important thing about your vision is that it resonates with you.

✦ Your vision must be aligned with your values, which is a dynamic process.

I have not done a formal Vision Quest in many years but I do review and refine my plans at the end of the year and use January to create a new plan for the upcoming year.

In addition to growing programs for adults, I am in the process of creating and launching an online educational platform called DreamMob which will support teens and young adults. My partner Parissa Behnia and I are excited about getting this off the ground soon. The most important resource this country has is its future generations and these bright lights seem to be dimming during high school. Our national graduation rate is hovering at 70% while cities like LA and New York weigh in at an embarrassing 48% and 45%. Detroit has the lowest rate in America – only 25% graduate from high school there.

My vision is to increase on-time graduation rates through our programs. If adults asked every student, each semester of his or her high school education the question: What’s your dream? and not only listened to the answer without judgment, but truly encouraged that child to go after it, many great things would happen. I have spent years perfecting this process for people who, earlier in life, were not given encouragement or were ridiculed for their dreams. Our goal is to make discussing dreams cool and help young people create a career that is fueled with vision and purpose, instead of focusing on just “having a job.”

Love,

Laurel

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