Goals VS Vision… and why you need both

Feb 07, 2024

Let’s face it, the traditional career plan no longer exists. In the modern professional landscape, our career paths aren’t always linear. Instead, they can be as turbulent as a Sydney Ferry ride on a windy day, taking us in a number of different directions that we hadn’t otherwise planned.

Instead, goals and vision are the elements that anchor our career path

That’s right, goals and vision - two words I hear used interchangeably all the time, however in actual fact, they’re (almost) entirely different. While both work hand-in-hand to guide us on the journey towards our final destination, it’s important we distinguish between the two to help us effectively build the career path of our dreams.

Goals are the stepping stones to success

On our professional path, goals are the tangible markers that guide our daily endeavours. They represent the milestones that punctuate our journey, offering a sense of direction. I'm a big advocate for goal setting, and have always emphasised the importance of planning specific, achievable goals. Whether it's conquering a project, acquiring a new skill, or aiming for that well-deserved promotion, goals are non-negotiable, providing the roadmap for our career. Goals are essentially what help us to achieve our vision.

Vision is all about the bigger picture

On the other hand, vision is the vivid depiction of our ultimate destination. It's about crystallising a compelling image of the future we aspire to create. Dreaming big and envisioning the broader impact we can make in our fields is something I constantly talk about. Your vision is the North Star that guides long-term aspirations, transcending individual goals to reflect your overarching purpose.

There is no vision without goals

For me, the magic truly unfolds when goals and vision harmonise – a dance where our daily actions sync with our greatest ambitions. As Pascal Bachmann writes, vision alone is not enough, so it’s imperative to align your thoughts, actions, feelings and habits with your vision, values and goals. A successful career, as I like to stress, is not just about reaching specific milestones; it's about ensuring those milestones contribute to the fulfilment of our broader vision.

Finding balance in ambition

You know, it’s a delicate dance between goals and vision. Goals without vision can lead to aimless activity, and vision without goals might remain an unfulfilled dream. The synergy between the two is paramount, with goals providing the steps, and vision providing the destination. Together, they create the (not so traditional) plan for your career.

Using goals and vision to carve a career plan

In order to help you build the plan for your career, here are three things to keep in mind:

  • Make your intention clear: Pull out the post-it notes, gather your thoughts and clearly define your goals and vision. Creating a vision board can help you visualise your aspirations, while setting SMART goals ensures they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
  • Reflect regularly: Schedule regular moments to review your progress and determine if your goals still align with your vision. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments to your goals along the way, as they may be necessary as your career landscape evolves.
  • Celebrate the little things: Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, irrespective of their size, every step of the way. Recognising your progress on the journey toward your vision is crucial.

Simply put, your career is like a tapestry, woven with the threads of goals and vision. And what a beautiful tapestry that is! Set your goals with purpose, envision your success, and let the dance of ambition propel you further in your career.


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