Developing a personal vision statement
Your personal vision statement is an identification of how you commit to living your life. It should influence all areas of your life, including family, spirituality, physical well-being, leisure, and work. Having a clear personal vision allows you to effectively integrate all of your abilities, interests, skills, values, goals, and experience.
The purpose of the vision statement is to serve as the keystone in the development of your strategic plan. Your vision statement should be a guide for all of your decisions. It should be meaning-driven, and focus on your internal dreams and motivations.
Your vision is your dream, or reason for being. It’s the reason you jump out of bed in the morning ready to tackle the day. It is the statement that you determine, that helps dictate the rest of the elements of your strategic plan. A good vision statement makes you wake up in the morning, and know the direction you plan on heading that day. Your why should wake you up in the morning.
Developing an honest vision statement that effectively conveys your dreams and aspirations in a concise manner is a crucial piece of puzzle. This allows you to remain focused on what is really important, and provide a basis for developing other elements of your strategic plan. This also provides the guidance you’ll need as other opportunities and distractions come your way. Instead of getting bogged down, or taking any opportunity that comes…you are proactive and more selective.
Developing your vision statement is a continual process that involves learning more about yourself, and fine-tuning your understanding of your place in the world. As you write your vision statement, please understand this will never be a finished product. You will find times to review the purpose and focus as you learn and grow. Your vision statement should be reviewed on a regular basis. You might consider setting aside time every six to twelve months to review all of your strategic plan, starting with your vision statement.
What is a vision statement?
Your vision statement is your dream. It is an identification of the ideal components and conditions of your life. What would your life and future look like if things were perfect? A vision statement is a short statement that articulates your thinking about your future pathways, and clarifies your thinking to guide your actions.
A vision statement should be:
- Written down
- No more than one sentence long
- Easily understood by an adolescent
- Able to be memorized and recited
- A unique description of you and your place in the world
- A statement in which you frame your priorities
- A guide to help produce an eventual plan of action
In this development of a strategic plan, we will focus on the development of one vision statement to guide the development and implementation of your plan. Please note that some people chose to develop vision statements, and strategic plans for a wide variety of domains of their life. These domains include: personal identity, companionship, family, personal growth, professional growth, networks, friends & colleagues, recreation & renewal, spiritual growth, financial stability, health & fitness, personal legacy. You can chose to start the development of your strategic plan with a focus on all domains, and then drill down in later as you learn more about yourself.
Developing your vision statement
To develop your vision statement, it is advised that you begin this process by eliminating distractions and finding yourself a place to write. It doesn’t matter where you write, just be sure you’ll always have access this space. In my practice, I find it is easier to have a notebook to write by hand, and then later bring these materials over to a Google Doc. The Google Doc allows me to share it with others and always have it available.
First, start with a free write guided by the following prompts. You’ll want to answer the following questions as honestly as you can to help guide the development of your vision statement. This is a free write. Do not make decisions about whether this is important, leads to anything, or is of value. Give yourself permission to dream. Be creative. Focus on your wishes, not what others wish from you.
Find your true self
- Who am I?
- What is my purpose?
- Why am I here?
- What is the reason for my existence as a human and an individual?
- What personal qualities do you most want to emphasize in your actions?
- What really matters to you in life?
- What do you wish you had more of in life?
- What kids of life do you want to have lived at age 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 and 80?
- What kinds of people do you want to be surrounded by?
Find your true vision
- What do I want to do with my life?
- What am I inspired to do?
- What would I want to do, even if I wasn’t paid to do it?
- What do I love to do, even sometimes forgetting to eat or sleep?
- What are you better at than most others?
- What is your superpower?
- How can you use and display these qualities in a working environment?
- What do you believe you’re capable of in life?
- What are the greatest things you could accomplish, given the right circumstances, resources and motivation
- What do you wish you could change about the world? What could you contribute to the world that would make you feel proud and content?
Find your future
- Visualize yourself five years from now. What are you doing?
- Visualize yourself ten years from now. What are you doing?
- Where are you living?
- Who are you living with?
- What impact are you making on the world and those around you?
Identify your legacy
- What would your eulogy say about you?
- What would you like to be known for?
- What would you want others to say or think about you?
- What kind of family member do you want to be known as?
- What kind of impact do you want to leave on your community?
- In what way is the world a different place because you were here?
This list of questions is not exhaustive. The idea is to get your creative juices flowing, while centering you on your dreams and aspirations. Your answer to many of these questions, including the “what matters in life” style items won’t be perfect, and that’s absolutely appropriate. The point is to put a stake in the ground to work towards, and you can change your responses as you review your life’s vision. Regardless of your answers, there will be things you want to do or be, and there are resources needed to support those experiences and accomplishments.
Second, make a list of the categories that matter to you. Some of these categories may include health, ability, time, wealth, experiences, accomplishments, contentment, relationships. Your list of categories should be personal, and identify what you expect from your short amount of time on this planet.
After writing out your categories, write down what you want or need from each. It also might be helpful to define or describe each as you work your way through. You may start to think about your ultimate vision statement at this point. It is appropriate if you think backwards from this vision statement to your categories to help you further define this work.
Third, craft your vision statement by summing everything up. In one sentence, describe what your ideal life looks like. It may seem cheesy, it may be very introspective, but its important to think about where/what you want to be. Your vision statement will consist of an overall description of your ideal life, combined with a list of areas that matter most, and high-level goals for each area.
Write this statement in the first person and focus on the future you will achieve. Some experts recommend writing the statements as if you’re already achieving them. Some experts recommend keeping this statement to 50 words or less, while others maintain that the key is to be as focused and descriptive as possible. Describe what you would do if you knew you couldn’t fail.
Acting on your vision statement
At the end of this activity, you should have a working copy of your vision statement, or perhaps a couple of complementary pieces across several domains. The key is to spend the time thinking and expressing yourself. Keep in mind that this activity has been primarily focused on writing. Many people have success painting, speaking, or expressing their responses to these questions as a means to think through to their vision statement.
Give this process as many times as necessary to draft and refine your vision statement. You can share this with friends or trusted loved ones if you feel they will be supportive. Remember it should express the values that you would like to live and work by. You must feel excited and inspired by it when you read it aloud.
In future posts, we’ll build on this one statement as we flesh out your strategic plan. For now, identify times to continually read your vision statement. Some people put a copy of their statement on the mirror and review it as they brush their teeth. In our house, we have a “vision board” that is a place for each member of our family to share their vision statement, and also share some of the categories that we developed in the second part of this activity.
Developing an effective, clear, honest vision statement will guide your future efforts and focus. I hope this activity, although long and introspective, has been worthwhile in the end. You should feel more confident and ready to tackle the remainder of your strategic plan, now that you know where you’re headed.