A personal vision statement of your desired future, when put in writing, can literally change your life. Very few people have a written vision statement. They tend to drift through life or jump at whatever opportunity comes their way. Those who do have a personal vision statement find that somehow, remarkably, it tends to come true over time.
It’s easy to create a personal vision statement. Get out a sheet of paper or word processing page and write at the top: My Vision.
Then for best results, just let the words flow. Dream big. Don’t hold back or judge your thoughts. Create a word picture of your ideal future. It can be as far out in the future as you want to go. Think about what you would most like to accomplish, have and be years down the road.
Write in the present tense, as if you were experiencing the vision right now. Not “I will” but “I am” statements. Include the kind of work you’d like to be doing, or retirement if that is your wish. Go ahead. Do that now. Do not read any further until you have written at least a paragraph, preferably a page, portraying your desired future vividly. Just do it now.
After that unstructured writing exercise, go back and add any detail that appeals to you from these nine key success factors of life:
- Mind – What would you like to know and be able to do? What would you like your mental state to be?
- Body – What physical condition would you like to be in? What activities do you want to be engaging in that involve your body?
- Emotions – What do you want to feel and feel like in the future? What is your desired emotional state?
- Spirit – What do you want your spiritual condition to be like? What spiritual activities or habits would you like to develop?
- People – What people do you want in your life and what would your relationship to them be? How can your relationships with these people be optimized or made highly desirable?
- Things – What things do you want to own in your future? House, cars, money, other possessions for enjoyment?
- Work – Assuming you are still working in the future, what kind of work would you like to be doing? What position and authority would you want to have?
- Leisure – What leisure activities would you like to enjoy in the future? These can be not only fun activities but public service, “giving back” or other optional activities you would value.
- Environment – What environment would you want to be living and working in years from now? This can be your immediate
environment, community, nation, world, or other surroundings.
Your vision of the future does not need to fit neatly into these nine success factors – those are just to stimulate your creative ideation and make sure all the bases are covered.
The act of writing down your vision can have profound results. Some people are amazed that years later, they pull out their vision statement and realize they have accomplished almost everything on the list!
I once conducted a strategic planning seminar for a group of veterinarians. In preparation for the seminar, I asked each of them to take time before the event and write down a personal vision statement.
One of them wanted to be invited to serve as a speaker at a major national convention, to win a prestigious award, and other high achievements she had only dreamed of.
Incredibly, within one week of writing down her visions, many of them came true, including the speaking invitation and prestigious award.
Other people have received unexpected checks in the mail or significant gifts after writing down their visions using present-tense, “I am” language.
BUT… but… your results may differ. I have written several books based on my own vision statement, but it took me years of hard work to complete them to my satisfaction. They did not drop down out of the sky. Often achieving a personal vision statement involves focused effort over time.
And if you envision things that you cannot control, such as winning a national award, you will not have direct control over the process or the outcomes. You are really pushing your luck to think and hope your visions might come true just because you thought up some bold ideas. But they might! Believing your visions will come true increases the likelihood that they will!
There is no doubt that luck plays an important role in success for most people. But remember this important insight from the Stoic Seneca: “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” The more prepared you are, based on your personal vision statement and realistic planning, the more likely you are to encounter a “lucky” opportunity.
I love this famous quote from Scottish mountain climber William Hutchison Murray:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans. That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.”
Life is a mystery, you see, but success comes not only to those who have strong visions, but also commitment to act – “then providence moves, too.”