As a teacher and consultant, I’ve shown others how to create strong vision and mission statements for more than 30 years. I didn’t write personal vision and mission statements until I lost my job.
When the school district where I was employed downsized and my position was eliminated, I had no idea how to move forward. I had to learn how to take organizational mission and vision creation planning processes and make them personal.
Gordon D’Angelo, author of Vision: Your Pathway to Victory, describes a vision statement as “the definable intention from which preparation is formed.” Jennell Evans, CEO of Strategic Interactions, defines a vision as an “optimal desired future state – the mental picture – of what an organization [or individual] wants to achieve over time.”
A vision statement focuses attention on who you want to be. Your vision becomes a source of inspiration and commitment to your future. It provides meaning to every task you want to accomplish and becomes the driving force behind your goals.
A vision statement articulates the big idea of who you are and what you are working towards as a goal. It expresses how you wish to be known and the legacy you want to share with others. It mirror your core values. Your vision reflects your dream; it is a picture of the future you would like to create. It should be concise and easy to remember.
“A vision is a mental picture about what tomorrow will look like,” explain James Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge. “It sets us apart and makes us feel special.”
Consider these questions as you compose a meaningful vision statement:
- Does my vision statement express how I want to be perceived by others?
- Does it convey my purpose?
- Does it represent what I think is possible?
- Does it point to my future?
- Does it reflect my core values?
- Does it express my strengths and unique capabilities?
- Do I feel inspired and motivated when I read or say it?
A mission statement is an action statement that flows from your vision. It clarifies (1) what you do, (2) who you do it for, and (3) how you do what you do. David Ladner adds that personal vision and mission statements reflect your beliefs and core values; becoming “the standard by which you measure everything else in your life.”
As you consider a personal mission statement, Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, suggested, “Begin with the end in mind.” It is composed in present tense and summarizes how you plan to execute your vision.
As you think about your mission statement, consider these questions:
- What do I want people to say about me at my funeral?
- What lifetime accomplishments do I want people to remember?
- What can I do that adds value to my life and value to the lives of others?
- What values and principles do I admire in others?
- What values and principles are important to me?
- What are my talents?
- How do I use my talents in my various roles?
The struggle to define my own personal vision and mission statements that would guide my own life resulted in my personal goal-setting book, Dreams to Action Trailblazer’s Guide. I share tools that helped me clarify my own goals and purpose with others (Click here to find free printable downloads). That journey led to a new career as a speaker and author.
My personal vision statement is this: I believe conversations can heal the world.
My personal mission statement: I help youth and adults talk about tough topics like mental health awareness, bullying, and suicide prevention.
Your personal vision and mission ideally align with your values. They can become a filter through which you choose your words, thoughts, and behavior. Personal vision and mission statements are the compass that guide decisions.
As I plan each day, I ask myself, “Are tasks on my daily schedule aligned with my vision and mission?” If they are, I prioritize those tasks and build time within my schedule to complete them.
When important tasks pop up during the day that need your attention, you can rearrange your schedule and make adjustments. I build flex time into my schedule to allow wiggle room between tasks and appointments. In this way, I find I have more time to do the things I love to do (like walk my dog, go to art exhibits, read for enjoyment, etc.) because I’ve arranged time in my busy day to relax and have fun, too.
Richard G. Scott, author of 21 Principles – Divine Truths To Help You Live By The Spirit, said, “We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day.” Commitment is crucial to success.
So where do you start? How do you start?
Pick up a pen and begin by writing responses to the questions listed above. Ask yourself:
- What makes me feel happy?
- What do I feel passionate about?
- What would I do today if I were brave? (Perhaps this song by Jana Stanfield will inspire you.)
Jump into the visioning and missioning stream and paddle. You’ll discover you really do know how to swim.
Do you have personal vision and mission statements?
Write SMART Personal Goals that clearly define your direction and launch your path to success.
Use these suggestions from Write a Personal Purpose Statement to clarify your direction.
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