How to Write a Personal Vision Statement

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“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed.  The vision pulls you.”

-Steve Jobs

A vision is simply a picture of the future that produces passion in you.  Do you have a personal vision?  Everyone should.  In this short article, I’m going to teach you how to write your own personal vision statement.

Choose your time frame

You can have a vision for an upcoming event.  For example, “My vision for our staff party is that staff will leave feeling delighted that they chose to work for us.”    The time frame for that vision might be four weeks.

You can have a long-term vision for a company.  “By 2040, we will have 100 locations.”  This vision may take 20 years to achieve.

The rule of thumb is, the bigger the vision, the longer the time frame it will take to achieve it.

Choose your time frame.  Is it a month?  A year?  10 years?  Longer?

Shoot for greatness

Ignore your inner gremlins.  Most of us know that we are capable of much more than others believe we’re capable of.  So, listen to your gut.  Dream a little bit.  You’re not showing anyone else at this point, so don’t be afraid to put things on the page that scare you a little bit.

We’re tempted to listen to our fears and to ‘be realistic.’ When making your personal vision statement, this is not a time to be realistic.  It’s a time to stretch yourself free from outside intervention.

Your vision is not an operational plan.  You’re not laying out all of the mechanics of how you’re going to get there.  That comes later.    Visioning is harnessing the power of your imagination.

So, let your imagination go and let your dreams spill onto the page.

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Write from the future

When you write your vision, choose the date that’s at the end of your time frame.  Then, write a letter to yourself from that time, assuming that your vision has already been accomplished.

Describe exactly what your life or business or whatever you’re visioning about looks like at that date.

Be specific

Instead of saying, “I’m a better parent,” say “I take three consecutive weeks off each year to spend with my family.”  Don’t say, “My practice is very busy.”  Say instead, “My practice grosses 2 million dollars per year.”

The more specific you are the greater your chances of achieving your vision.  You have to be crystal clear about what you want before you can go about getting it.

Go fast

Don’t edit yourself.  Just pull out your pen or your keyboard and start writing.  Don’t stop until you’re finished with the whole vision.

Don’t worry about getting the grammar right.  It doesn’t matter.   Don’t listen to your imagined critics.  Just start writing and keep going

Some examples of format

It doesn’t really matter which format you choose to write in, you just need to get it on paper.  Some people like to use prose and write in paragraph form.  Others prefer using bullet points.

Here’s an example of a personal vision written in prose:

“Dear Bob:  It’s 2030 and I can’t believe what I’ve achieved over the past 10 years.  I would never have believed that I would have a net worth of $5 MM with a regular income of $250K per year, and yet that’s what’s happened.  But that pales beside the wonderful relationships I’m surrounded with today.  My wife and I are more deeply in love now than when we were first married.  Every year now, we take a full month together in Hawaii to relax, hike, host friends, and build into our marriage.”

Here’s an example of a personal vision statement written in bullet points:

  • By December 2030
  • $5 MM net worth, $250K annual income
  • One month per year spent in Hawaii with my wife hiking, hosting friends and relaxing

Review and redraft

Now, take your vision and put it in a drawer for a day or two.

Once you’ve thought about it for a bit, take it back out of your drawer and make any changes you think necessary.  But, don’t give up on your dreams.  If they are what you really want, keep them in and go for it!

Also, don’t redraft it more than once.  Your first draft is usually your most accurate.

Show your inner circle

Now that you’re comfortable with your vision, show it to a small number of people who you respect.  But be careful who you choose. Don’t let them beat the passion out of you!

When they’ve given their feedback and you’ve considered it and made any necessary changes go public with it.  Show the people who matter.

Now, stick with the process.  Believe in it.  Put your vision up where you can see it and review it regularly.  Read it over daily or weekly.

In Summary

Here’s the simple recipe for drafting your personal vision statement:

  1. Choose your time frame: The bigger the vision, the longer the time frame.
  2. Shoot for greatness: Don’t listen to your inner critic.
  3. Write from the future: Pick a date and write a letter to yourself.
  4. Be specific: The more specific you are, the better your chances of reaching your vision.
  5. Go fast: Don’t self-edit.
  6. Some examples of format: Write your vision in paragraph form or bullet form.  Both are good.
  7. Review and redraft: Don’t redraft more than once.
  8. Show your inner circle: Choose them wisely.  Don’t let them beat the passion out of you!
  9. Stick with the process: Put your vision up where you can see and read it daily.

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