You’ve probably had your fill of articles and blogs about how New Year’s resolutions don’t work. So I want to give you a positive framework to begin the New Year. Creating your personal vision for the future is a different way to look at setting and achieving goals.
A clear vision is made up of three elements—knowing who you are (your purpose), where you’re going (your picture of the future), and what will guide your journey (your values). For years I’ve worked with company leaders to create the vision for their corporations and with individual managers to create their leadership vision. It is equally beneficial for people to set their own personal vision about what they want to get out of life. Creating your personal vision will help you get back to the basics and focus on what’s important instead of merely what’s next.
Create your purpose statement
Start by creating your purpose statement. In a few words, this statement explains who you are, what you do, and why you do what you do.
- To begin, list some positive personal characteristics that describe you. Use nouns such as patience, creativity, artistic ability, sales ability, charm, diplomacy, energy, problem-solving skills, enthusiasm, or something similar. I chose sense of humor, people skills, teaching skills, and role model.
- Next, list ways you successfully interact with people. Use verbs such as teach, coach, write, encourage, manage, lead, love, help, etc. I used educate, help, inspire, and motivate.
- Finally, describe your picture of the future, focusing on what you want to create for your life. Write a short description of your idea of the perfect world. To me, a perfect world is where everyone is aware of the presence of God in their lives and realizes they are here to serve, not to be served.
- There! You’ve completed the most challenging part. Now combine your thoughts into a statement. Here’s mine:
“I am a loving teacher and a role model of simple truths who helps and motivates myself and others to be aware of the presence of God in our lives and realize we are here to serve, not to be served.”
List and define your values
It’s time to create your list of values. This list will guide you and help you understand how to reach your ideal future state. Examples of values include honesty, power, courage, wisdom, commitment, learning, fun, relationships, or spirituality. This could be a very long list, but you must narrow it down to the three or four values that are most important to you. Some people prefer to start with ten values, then narrow those down to the top six, then to the top three or four. My values are spiritual peace, integrity, love, and success.
Once you have arrived at your top three or four values, write a short definition for each one. Remember these are your guidelines for making decisions and determining whether you are living your vision. For example, I define love this way:
“I value love. I know I am living by this value anytime I feel loving toward myself or others, anytime I have compassion, anytime I feel love in my heart, anytime I feel the love of others, anytime my heart fills with love, and anytime I look for the love of others.”
One final suggestion: read your personal vision—your purpose statement and values—every single day. It is a simple way to re-commit and stay on track.
Give this exercise a try. You’ll see that a personal vision statement can hold far more value than a vague resolution that’s easily abandoned. As soon as you define exactly what you want out of life, you will be able to begin realizing your vision.
Happy New Year 2017!