This article was written by Judy Schoenberg and Linda Lautenberg of EvolveMe EvolveMe is on a mission to advance women in mid-career. They work with groups of women in midlife looking to relaunch, reinvent or level up their careers and with companies invested in attracting and retaining top female talent. As co-founder of EvolveMe, Judy Schoenberg is a career strategist and leadership expert for women in midlife career transition who are exploring a return to the workforce or are pivoting careers. Through the DARE© Method of Career Reinvention she created with her co-founder, Judy helps cohorts of women find the clarity and confidence to own their value and pursue new opportunities. If you need a place to start getting unstuck, download EvolveMe’s FREE career strategy tool: The EvolveMe Career Reinvention Analyzer. Linda Lautenberg, Co-Founder of EvolveMe, is a return to work expert, women’s career advancement strategist and champion for all midlife career changers. Along with her co-founder, Linda developed EvolveMe’s proprietary DARE© Method of Career Reinvention to help cohorts of high achieving women find clarity, gain confidence, and launch the best chapter of their professional life. Get the inspiration you need for your next career move by downloading EvolveMe’s FREE training: 6 Mindset Traps that Sabotage Career Transition in Midlife. Judy and Linda have been featured in Forbes.com, CNN.com, Reuter’s World at Work, Ellevate Network, Luminary and Fairygodboss.com. They have been guests on podcasts like Next Career, Work from the Inside Out, Life After Corporate, Hello Career Guru, Time of Your Life, Warriors at Work, iRelaunch, The MId-career GPS, Hope Motivates Action (to be released), Chapter 2 Club podcast (to be released), Bucket List Careers (to be released), Better Than Gossip TV show + podcast (to be released 4/12/22). Judy was named Better Not Younger Entrepreneur of the Week. Linda was nominated for the Forbes 50 Over 50 list. Here are three things you must know (and do!) to start developing a clear vision — that big-picture future self. 1.Reflection for Your Big Picture Future Self It’s hard to think about long-term professional dreams in the abstract. It’s difficult to know where to begin. With competing demands, women often put others first and their career dreams on the back burner. That’s why it’s often not until midlife that we wake up wanting more from our work lives — more meaning, more fulfillment, more challenge. One of the first steps to distill a career vision is to think about the components that will drive you in your next chapter. Start by asking yourself these questions and use the answers to draft a list of the values that shape you now. Then narrow down the shortlist to five that speak to you most. Think about your past interests – what activities do you love? Which comes naturally to you? What did you love to do as a child? What current interests or activities do you lose yourself in — whether for work or in other parts of your life? What “superpower” do you possess that has people (in your professional or personal life) coming to you for help or advice? What’s the most fulfilling professional role (paid or unpaid) you’ve had and why? What elements in your life need to come together in order to fulfill this dream? Think about work/life integration. What does success look like for you now? Are there women whose careers inspire you? Why? What is a problem that needs solving and to which you can uniquely contribute? What is the impact you want to have in the next five years? 2. Write it down Write down your responses to the questions below to start crafting your career vision. Circle the responses that signal “expansion” — that make you feel like you’re stretching yourself or getting out of your comfort zone. In addition, circle patterns, trends, or areas that have remained constant for you. Craft four sentences about how you see your life in five years: what are you doing, why you are doing it and what impact you are having in the world. A career vision cements our desires and enhances our well-being. Putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) makes it more likely to stick. Writing a letter to your future self is a method that can help you paint a picture of the life you want and increase your odds of achieving it. Research demonstrates the power of writing for career success: You become 42% more likely to achieve your dreams and goals simply by writing them down on a regular basis. 3. Share your goals with others Connecting with others who support your vision is key to this process. The more you share your vision with others, the greater points of connection you build for people to help you advance. Reflecting on your achievements and goals is common in the workplace. But what if you’re transitioning from a career break or wanting to change industries and you’re left to figure it out on your own? Research demonstrates that women who plan together have higher aspirations. We know that women who support women are more successful in their work and are happier too. Why try to sort it all in isolation? The past two years have shown us we need community more than ever for connection, inspiration, and accountability!