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Dream Careers Begin When You Take Your Dream Into Your Career

Dream Careers Begin When You Take Your Dream Into Your Career

What do American Idol, Ms. World, and The Olympics have in common? They’re competitions and you’ll inevitably hear participants gush “This is a dream come true for me!” In life, we all look forward to dreams coming true.  Some experience it early on. Others wait for a long time.  A few suddenly realize they’re already living their dream!  And then there are those who don’t know what a dream-come-true looks like but keep waiting for it to show up. Your dream life ties up with a dream career.  Your vision can be nebulous or clear, constant or shifting. What matters is you keep that vision of your dream.  Whichever type of work you’re in, here’s how taking your dream into your career can get you that dream career.

Your dream serves like a destination. You get there faster.

Reggie loved to draw as a 4-year old.  She doodled on notebooks,  dinner napkins, place mats, toilet paper, walls – on any surface!  Many children do that.  Unlike  other children, Reggie’s drawings now grace pages of award-winning books, tumblers in hip cafes in Europe, planners favored by picky environmentalists, popular wall papers for androids, and cool T-shirts selling online. She belongs to a group of respected illustrators and artists who are in regular demand. Doing what she loves and getting paid well for it, she has the freedom to travel or  do nothing for a while, if it hits her fancy.  How did she get there? She recognized her dream career at age four and kept going.

Your dream guides you. You make deliberate decisions.

When you know the journey’s destination, it’s simple to find transport  that gets you there. Visualize your dream career and make each decision by answering, “Does this get me closer to my dream?”  Many incoming college freshmen are not sure if their chosen course is right for them. Karina was an exception.  She was sure it was NOT what she wanted to pursue, but her parents were a big influence (read pressure). A dutiful daughter, Karina finished the 4-year Nursing course her parents insisted on.  Then she calmly declared she will begin studies in HER chosen field – business management.  Karina gave in to her parent’s wishes but never let go of her vision.  Now all her decisions are directed straight to her dream career in business.

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Your dream career doesn’t have to be etched in stone. You gauge if it needs tweaking.

I was ecstatic after passing the state university entrance exams but my dream course was filled up.  I settled for another course with plans to shift to my preferred course at the earliest possible time. The right time never came up in the next 4 years, until I completed my Bachelor of Science Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management.  There were  raised eyebrows from my loftily intellectual and socially idealistic peers, but I was determined to begin my working life and accepted the unavoidable shift. The hotel career I had “settled for” led to such a wealth of lessons, challenges, fun, adventure, travel, unforgettable experiences, and long-lasting friendships.  Many times along the way, I have gushed, “This is a dream come true for me!”

But what if you find yourself doing work that is nowhere near your dream career and you don’t exactly feel fulfilled doing it?  Reverse the process.  Take your dream into the job and work like you’re living your dream. The enjoyment you get out of any type of work is in direct proportion to the amount of interest, attention, and commitment you put into it.

Appreciate the miracle of having a job and work cheerfully. There are people in the world whose dream IS to have a job – any job!

Check out the unemployment figures. The International Labor Organization Global Employment Trends 2013 reports the number of unemployed worldwide is projected to increase to 205 million in 2014 (from 197 million in 2012) as economic growth slows.  Meanwhile fresh graduates are joining the labor force each year.  This information is meant to, hopefully, add a grateful spring to your step as you head to work. Don’t allow an attitude of dissatisfaction push you into turning in a sloppy job.  Remember, you get out of work what you put into it.  And yes, there are many people waiting in the wings who are qualified and ready to replace you at any time.

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Do your best with every task, no matter how tedious it is. They are baby steps to your dream career.

When you join the work force, it doesn’t matter if you’ve graduated from a prestigious university.  You’re just another newbie coming in at entry level position, so be ready for tedious tasks. It was Christmas season when I began training at the marketing department of the InterContinental Hotel. Wearing a smart blazer, skirt and high heels, I half sat, half slumped on the floor next to a desk piled high with hundreds of presents for the hotel’s top clients. My instructions — “Wrap them all up by lunchtime!”  I was lucky. The other trainee (also in high heels) was  running around fetching stuff for the sales department divas. Take tedious tasks in the spirit of necessary training to test your mettle.   While you’re at it, be the best gift-wrapper or stuff-fetcher.  It will make the task enjoyable and develop your patience and people skills.

Welcome additional responsibility.  It could mean a promotion to your dream position.

What’s your reaction when your supervisor assigns you additional tasks and/or staff?  Yes, initial resistance is normal.  Try looking at it this way.

  • Your superior trusts in you and believes you are capable.
  • You gain new skills and knowledge.
  • Each new work experience adds to your professional portfolio and makes you highly valuable in the jobs market.

The additional responsibility could, in fact, soon be followed by an official promotion with full benefits … IF you handle the challenge well.

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A dream career is not about the money.

I know people who don’t mind getting paid at the lower end of the scale because they love what they’re doing.  Then there are people who are paid really well but feel miserable because they haven’t found their passion.  Some dream careers begin with a clear vision and a straight path. Other dream careers blossom from an unavoidable shift to a less-preferred course. Both situations follow this chronology:

  1. Passion fuels quality work and excellent performance.
  2. Opportunities show up regularly.
  3. Money follows inevitably.

By no means is money unimportant. It’s just not the first thing in the equation.  Observe when people talk about their dream life or dream career. Their eyes are shining and their voices are raised in excitement or hushed in reverence as they describe the experience. Money doesn’t show up in the conversation.

Observe too when the participants in American Idol, Ms. World, and the Olympics gratefully gush “This is a dream come true for me!”  It is usually AFTER they get eliminated. You see, living one’s dream is not about winning either.

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Featured photo credit: Md Asaduzzaman Tarek via flickr.com

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

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Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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