One of the topics I want to cover in this new iteration of Becki’s Whole Life is improving your life through planning and setting goals very much like a well run business would do. I have learned through my work (and just life in general) that when you set goals and have a vision for where you want to go, you are more likely to get there. Makes sense, right?
Do you ever feel like you go through your days not totally sure what you have accomplished? Do you ever feel a little lost, but not really sure why? You just can’t pinpoint why you feel a certain way? That is how I feel when I don’t have clear cut goals set for myself and an action plan to achieve them. I just feel a little lost and like I’m not accomplishing what I need to accomplish…even though I’m not sure what I want to accomplish because I don’t have clear cut goals….ha.
In today’s post, we are going to cover the first step in achieving the things you want out of life – setting a Personal Vision Statement or PVS for short. Businesses have Mission Statements – a short sentence or two that defines a company’s fundamental purpose. Every goal and decision that a company makes should ultimately drive towards that mission statement. That way, no matter how big or small a company is, everything and everyone is moving in the same direction towards the same mission. Personal Vision Statements operate the same way. They drive us and everything we do towards our best vision of ourselves, whether we are 40 years old or 50 or 90.
Lets get started creating our PVS. This is a really quick and easy, but rewarding exercise. We will set the vision and then everything we do as we plan out each day, week, month, year , will drive towards that. It can change over time – that is fine. However we need to make sure that our goals always line up with our PSV.
Step 1 – Brainstorm
You can start creating your Personal Vision Statement by asking lots of questions about yourself. What things mean the most to you? What are you good at? What does success look like to you? What brings you joy? Where do you see yourself in 10 years or 40 years? What would you do in life if you knew failure was not a possibility? What things would you like to stop or start doing? What values do you hold dear?
Start brainstorming about what your ideal life would be (or what it isn’t) and write all of these questions and answers out. Put it on paper or use sticky notes so you can see it and start to visualize what that life looks like. Sticky notes are great for this exercise because you can move them around. You can use a tool like Stormboard (or any whiteboarding/sticky note tool) for an exercise like this. I use a tool called Mural at work which I love, but Stormboard is pretty similar – and FREE! If you are a more visual person you could create a pictorial vision board with pictures from books or magazines on a board that represent the way you want to live, answering the questions we asked ourselves above.
Step 2 – Analyze and Categorize
Now that you have put your answers to these life questions on paper, it is important to review and really think about what and why you put each answer down. Does the picture that you just painted of yourself make you feel good? Can you start to see themes from your brainstorming or categories? Put those themes or categories together and you will start to see patterns or themes even more clearly.
As you start to do this analysis, a picture should start to from from this process. This is becoming and will help you to build your personal vision. Do you see yourself leading others in something that you excel in? Are your visions geared towards being healthy and fit? Are your visions related to your career and money? Do you want to be a better servant of Jesus – maybe your vision is more religious or spiritual. It may also be a combination of areas.
Step 3 – Write Your Vision Statement
Remember, this is your PVS. This isn’t how your family is going to achieve their goals or things you want your kids to do as they grow up. This is all about YOU, and I know that can be tough. So when you write your vision, the statement has to be something that you can control 100%. If it is a shared vision then it isn’t your personal statement, right?
Your Vision Statement should be relatively short and easy to understand. Unlike goals, which we will set next, a vision statement can be somewhat broad and undefined. If you have taken the time to really review and analyze all of your answers from the brainstorming exercise your vision should come to you pretty easily. Don’t feel like you have to incorporate everything from your brainstorm, you are really just looking for themes. Your vision should make sense no matter what age you are.
Your PVS should be true to yourself and a light to live by.
Here is an example of what my vision statement might look like.
Live a service filled Christ centered life. Take care of my body and look my best by using natural products, eating healthy and exercising. Enjoy simple things every day such as my family, pets, the outdoors, a welcoming home, financial peace and occasional travels. Help others enjoy these things as well.
Step 4 – Review, Reflect and Iterate
One of the best things you can do in any part of life is to reflect, review and iterate. Every month you can take a look at your personal vision statement and make sure that it still aligns with your values and mission in life. This should be a pretty simple review. Just ask yourself. Does my statement feel still right for where I want to be in life in 5, 10,15, even 40 years? Did I leave anything out or add too much? A well written statement should feel right at all stages in your life.
You may want to repeat the brainstorming exercise if you feel that your vision doesn’t quite feel right at any point. It may take a few times to really feel like you can own it. You can shift the goals that you will develop as your mission and values become more clear. That is ok! This is what we call iterating. Since our PSV is something that may change over time, don’t stress too much when you first create it in step 3. Try it out and we can change as we go if needed through this reflect, review and iterate process.
Have fun with this exercise and don’t forget there is no right or wrong way to complete it. The most important thing is that you feel good about your PSV and it is YOURS. Own it!!
In the next post I will write about creating your own Persona. This is an amazing, quick and actionable exercise to really help understand your own wants, needs, frustrations and motivations. Once we have our PVS and Persona set – we will be in great shape to really start setting some goals.