One of the primary characteristics of happy, productive, successful people is that they see themselves in a future that feels positive and attainable. Creating a guide for life with a focused vision will help clients see into the future and link themselves to one that has meaning and purpose.

More than simply a wish or a goal, it’s a road map, a lifeline to navigate life’s ups and downs.

Having a Personal Vision will provide the path forward for clients seeking answers:

  • Young adults wondering what to do next: “I’ve followed all the great advice but it hasn’t worked for me.”
  • Midlife career transitioners navigating their options: “How do others seem to adapt easily to work circumstances as though by magic?”
  • Career professionals wanting a more balanced work life: “I’m sick of being sick and tired!”
  • Encore career explorers: “I know what I don’t want but can’t say what I DO want.”

Research has consistently shown that coaching with “a broader focus allows individuals to see what really matters most to them and then to turn this into a vision that can motivate them going forward and provide them with a stronger sense of meaning in life. This in turn allows individuals to cope better with the stress of change and to sustain their personal development.”

Highly respected scholars in the field of leadership have even put vision at the center. Harvard Business School professor Abraham Zaleznik declared vision the hallmark of leadership, and Warren Bennis, widely regarded as the pioneer of the contemporary field of leadership, wrote that a Guiding Vision or “having a clear idea of what you want to do professionally and personally—and the strength to persist in the face of setbacks, even failure” is one of the 6 basic ingredients of leadership.   

Living with the End Goal in Mind

Having a Personal Vision is being able to answer the following question: How do you want to have lived your life? What may be important for some may not be the same for others. Knowing your definition of a meaningful life and living each day with that vision in mind will be your compass. Helping clients to achieve their lives’ purpose is what coaching is all about.

People with a Personal Vision are typically inner directed, with a focus on the long term. They often describe themselves as living a balanced life and experience more meaning and enjoyment in their jobs.  

Moving Away from the Stress Cycle into the Balance Cycle

The result of moving away from the stress cycle and into the balance cycle is that a person can then construct his or her career with less stress and more attention to those aspects of life he or she feels are most important:

  • Vision-Based Decision Making: Feel OK with not jumping into recommendations that may look like great opportunities to others.
  • Inner Directed: Experience confidence, albeit not complacency, with the decisions you make and can assess and easily pivot if those decisions were a “mistake.” Express who you are through what you do.
  • Long-Term Thinking: Be curious and open to exploring and learning BEFORE making work and life decisions.
  • Meaning Driven: Feel satisfied with yourself because you experience alignment between who you are and what you do, even if “success” measures may not be the same as those used by others. Be dedicated to your own well-being through turning your learning into action.

Though a Personal Vision will point the way forward, it must be absolutely grounded in the present. To be effective, it must consider all important elements of a client’s life and career and connect the essential factors of who he or she is and what he or she wants from life.

The Whole Person Methodology

The Highlands Company was first to introduce the Whole Person Method three decades ago. 

Introduced in 1992 and trademarked in May 2001 as The Whole Person Technology™, the Whole Person Method is an approach to coaching and counseling that treats people and their careers holistically and honors their complexity. This month celebrates thirty years of our proprietary approach for transforming people’s lives.

The Whole Person Method is the foundation of the Highlands’ Personal Vision Coaching, a program offered by Highlands Certified Consultants (HCCs) to clients for guided self-discovery to develop a vision of a successful life, an image of yourself in a future in which you are using your most powerful talents doing work that is fulfilling.

A Personal Vision Must Take into Account the Whole Person

A Personal Vision must be created within the context of the person as a whole. There are eight essential factors, as identified by Highlands, that contribute to who a person is. HCCs consider each of these key factors with clients in the Personal Vision Coaching program using online activities and thought experiments to ensure the “whole self” is taken into account when making decisions—and, most importantly, to understand why and how the decisions they make differ from those of others. 

For a deeper dive, here is a preview of the Eight Factors and some Thought Questions (a technique used in The Highlands Company book, Don’t Waste Your Talent).

The Eight Essential Factors

Assessing Your Abilities. Natural Abilities stabilize in a person at about age 14. A true ability or aptitude is not something you must learn. It is something that comes easily to you.

Thought Question: What is in alignment or out of alignment with my natural abilities?

Analyzing Your Skills. Skills are those function-driven tasks you have learned to do well. They develop over time through study, education, application, and practice. To the extent that you take advantage of your natural abilities in developing a skill, the skill will be acquired more quickly, easily, and fully, and will facilitate career development.

Thought Question: How do the skills I have enhance or build on my innate abilities? 

Understanding Your Personal Style. Every individual has developed speech patterns, body language, social devices, and personality traits unique to him or herself. Because others respond to your personal style positively or negatively, it’s important to identify the ingredients of your style because this understanding will enable others to relate to you better.

Reflection Question: What aspects of myself do I most enjoy using in the work setting? What “core” ingredients must be present for me to feel comfortable in a work environment?

Knowing Your Interests. Over the years, you develop your unique interests. When these are identified and recognized, you can’t help but combine them with your abilities to achieve a fuller and more integrated use of both in your career development. They often provide the fuel for your pursuits.

Reflection Question: What interests do I have that I’ve neglected over the past few years? How could I begin to incorporate these interests again? Why would this be important to my future life planning?

Reliving Your Family History. Your background and family shape your life and work ethic. We encourage you to examine and understand how your family’s history and intrafamily relationships have influenced you.

Processing Question: What are the recurring career choices or themes in my family? What are the messages around success? 

Relating to Your Values. Your values (i.e., scales for judging good and evil, wise and foolish, moral and immoral) define your reactions to people and events around you. When a sense of your values is combined with knowledge of the other factors in your whole self, you are empowered to bring your plans and choices into sharper focus.

Reflection Question: How does my use of time, energy, and resources reflect on what I say is important to me? In my future career choice, which values must I ensure are present?

Reaching Your Goals. Whether articulated or not, every person has goals that control and drive activities, both on a daily basis and over the foreseeable future. You may wish to modify these goals in light of your natural abilities.

Reflection Question: Right now, what types of goals (professional or personal) are the easiest for me to think about? Set? Right now, what types of goals are most difficult for me to set? Why? What do I need to do to set the types of goals that will be useful to me right now?

Your Career Development Cycle. Everyone confronts critical stages or transitions (turning points) in life. Some of these are work or career related. These career issues are sometimes self-created and sometimes caused by external forces (e.g., company downsizing).

Reflection Question: Brainstorm a five-year plan: create options, take a step back, and consider your personal and career visions over the next five years.

Long-Term Gain

At the end of the eight-session Personal Vision Coaching program, clients will have so much more than simply a list of potential career areas that might be a good fit. Alongside the process of developing their Personal Visions, they will become familiar with a reflection process that can be used to make current and future decisions, and they will be guided to understand how to apply results to real-life situations.

The process of taking inventory of your life and methodically thinking through each of the eight elements of the Whole Person Model means that clients will always have a reference point and guide for whatever the future brings. They will walk away with concrete, practical advice and a confidence that can improve their every working day for the rest of their lives.