Your vision is your picture of your desired future. Like the photo on the box of a jigsaw puzzle, it reminds you what the goal is – how you’d like it all to turn out in the end.
With this illustration, it’s pretty easy to understand what vision is. The real work begins when you start creating your own personal vision statement.
3 Challenges to Creating Your Personal Vision Statement
Defining your life vision is an exciting, rewarding, and extremely important process. But it also brings its own challenges – a different set of obstacles than you encountered when discovering your purpose.
We’re so oriented toward getting things done that we often jump past envisioning in our impatience to get on with it – to begin “making progress.” But remember the well-known analogy of a person who spends his life busily climbing a tall ladder, only to discover in his later years that the ladder was placed against the wrong building.
A Japanese proverb gets to the heart of this:
Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.
In creating a personal vision statement, most people tend to describe their picture of the end game not in terms of ideals, but in terms that seem realistically achievable.
Don’t fall into this trap. Your vision should inspire, and you should create it without regard for how it will be achieved or what you currently imagine to be realistic.
In fact, purpose and vision are so powerful that they often lead to outcomes you never could have imagined possible. So be brave. Dream big. And write it down.
Simply put, it’s often difficult to get started on your personal vision statement. As you contemplate this big-picture view of your future, a sort of writer’s block often occurs.
That’s when it’s time to dig into your personal vision toolkit:
3 Tools for Creating Your Personal Vision Statement
Now that we’ve gotten the bad news out of the way, let’s get down to the good news: I‘ve got a big toolbox full of ways to help you crank out a meaningful and inspiring personal vision statement. Let’s look at 3 of the most powerful:
Use Future-Past Words
Avoid “I will do this. I will change this. I need to accomplish X.” Phrases like these can trick you into thinking of action plans versus the end result.
By contrast, the art of what I call “future-past” phrasing helps you picture yourself in the future, enjoying a state in which your vision has become reality. To help you climb into the future and look back, use encouraging terminology like “I will have behaved like this. I will have felt this. I will have had the satisfaction of X. I will have seen the fruits of Y.”
At the outset, it’s not important that you know how to get somewhere. That will come later, when you employ strategies to live out your personal vision.
For now, it’s only important that you figure out where you’re going. This makes me think of one of my daughters, who prefers to wear a compass on her wrist instead of a watch. When you ask her why, she’ll tell you that it’s more important to know where you’re going than when you’re going to get there. When & how don’t matter right now. We’re just looking to point the compass so we can set our course.
To ensure that you’re not getting caught up in the how or when, stop yourself from qualifying statements with “if”. This just dilutes what you really want.
So don’t write, “If I have a big enough income, I will fund an orphanage in Africa.” Instead, be audacious with your goals: “ I will have created an orphanage in Africa.”
We overcome writer’s block by writing, not by staring at the page. So part of the visioning process is to just start writing. Wander with your words, ignore grammar, disregard spelling – just go.
Find a trusted helper, and invite them to assist you in the just-start-writing process by asking specific questions about how you picture different aspects of your future:
Jot down notes – bullet points are a great start – about what pops into your brain as you picture your future. How do you behave? How do people respond to you? How do you feel? Use heartfelt words instead of “brain” words.
After you’ve spent a few weeks keeping notes, we will see patterns emerging. Your personal vision is beginning to take shape.