3 Steps to Writing Your Professional Will

Create a career “I WILL” list so your dreams will never die.
WILL_bucketlist_notepadFact: I am a huge fan of the television series NCIS. In a recent episode, one of the characters unearthed an “I WILL” list she wrote when she was a young child. It contained the kinds of dreams you’d expect a young girl to have: “I WILL be a ballerina, ride a horse, live in a castle, have a boy and a girl…”

It got me thinking, “How long has it been since I last wrote down my hopes and dreams? When was the last time I allowed myself to take a step back and dream big?”

As we usher in a new year, I urge you to write your own WILL. Consider it your professional bucket list. Fill it with what leadership expert Jim Collins calls your Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals (BHAGs). They should be long-term, visionary goals that you want to accomplish over the course of your career.

Follow these three steps to write an effective WILL.


What would you like to accomplish in your professional life over the next 10 or more years? For instance, you may wish to make a major career transition or perhaps you aspire to become a CEO one day. Close your eyes and tap into your childhood dreams. What did you want to be when you grew up? While those fantasies may not make sense today, they could give you clues as to what professional accomplishments you would find most fulfilling. Need more help? Click on the following link to access more job-goal exercises.


You are ten times more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Once you’ve brainstormed your WILL, document it. When you successfully achieve this goal, what will that look like? What will be the outcome? Go through this process for every item on your list. Post a copy of your WILL someplace you’ll see it on a regular basis, such as the sun visor in your car or a wall in your home office. Better yet, enter your WILL into your phone using an app like Evernote so you have the list with you at all times.


The beauty behind the WILL is that you’re not expected to accomplish these goals any time soon. You have loads of time to acquire the appropriate skill sets, make the right connections, and gather whatever other resources are necessary to help you succeed. Consider which of your dreams you’re likely to tackle first and decide on an action plan for the year. For instance, this might be your year to research what it will take to become a New York Times best-selling author so you can create smaller milestones to meet that goal over the next five years.