Stress can appear when we have lack of clarity around our future or we can’t see beyond our current circumstances. Setting goals are common and can be a great way to accomplish short-term objectives in your career or life, but goals aren’t enough. They can’t tell you which path to take or if you are even on the right path. So, what’s one essential thing that can bring you clarity and change your life?
Vision. Creating a vision for your life is the key to achieving results and you have the power to create it. All you need is your imagination, a pen and paper.
Your vision can have a major influence on the direction of your life. It guides your goals and ensures that you are setting the right goals.
You have probably heard that ‘life is a journey, not just a destination.’ Your vision ensures that you are heading down the right path. It provides the clarity that you need to get back on track if you must take alternate routes along your journey. You can see the beauty in the mountains of life and forge ahead with a clear image of what awaits on the other side.
Why does creating a vision matter?
Think about anyone you’d define as successful and fulfilled: family, friends, colleagues, individuals in your community, or celebrities. Why did they come to mind? They are probably people that inspire you, not necessarily because of fame, wealth or notoriety.
You’re inspired because they seem to be truly happy and living a meaningful and purposeful life. These people are usually in dream jobs and positions that seem to be an ideal fit or have created their own businesses around something that allows them to make an impact in their communities or the world.
You may have also asked yourself “what is it about them that makes them successful, helps them reach their goals, and live life to the fullest?” The answer is vision. They are visionaries and have a personal vision for their lives that drives every decision they make.
They are very clear about their gifts, talents and limitations and focus on the things that are in alignment with their strengths and personal vision. They simply see their future, know what they are aiming for in their life and career and go for it…no matter how long or winding the road ahead may be!
What is vision?
Vision is clarity of sight and the ability to plan your future. Your vision is outlined in a vision statement, which is different than a mission statement.
Think of your vision statement as the driver of your “why.” If someone were to ask you who you are and what you do beyond your current role, your vision should answer this in one sentence. Your vision is high level and big picture and is the reason why you “do what you do.” It is a single statement that is future focused and the ultimate desire for your life or career once your mission is accomplished.
A mission statement on the other hand is more specific and highlights the steps that you plan to take now to reach your ultimate vision. It includes the objectives that you aim to meet along the way and can be more detailed.
Vision comes before mission and goals and here’s why. Imagine you are going on an adventure that will take many long years to complete, but will end at an exciting new destination. Vision is who you will be in the future as a result of the adventure, what you will have achieved and why the “destination” is important to you. Mission is the roadmap that you will need to begin heading towards your destination. Goals are the tools that you’ll need to have and alter on a regular basis to ensure that you remain on the right path, overcome any barriers along the way, and sustain you on your journey.
Vision (Future) = Who You Will Become, What You Will Have Achieved, and Why
Mission (Present) = How You will Achieve It
Goals = Tools and Resources
When should you create your vision?
Now is the time to create your vision. No matter how young or old or where you are in your career, a vision can propel you to another level and help you live your best life at any phase. If you have been going from company to company, position to position, or one idea in your business to another without much success or traction, knowing your vision can help you plan a better roadmap prior to your next move.
Most companies have vision statements. It would be difficult for a company to know where to focus their efforts or assess if those efforts will support them in the fulfillment of their strategy without a clear vision. Similarly, we can align our decisions with our “why” and future aspirations by creating a clear vision for our lives and careers.
Ideas enter and exit our minds daily and opportunities are all around us. Our vision can help us decide which ideas and opportunities to act upon and which ones will bring the most fulfillment.
How can you create your vision?
Three things to reflect on when creating your vision:
1) What is something that you did growing up that came easily for you or something that you enjoy doing in your life and career now? What excited (or excites) you about it?
Think about things that you enjoyed and activities where you seemed so engaged that you lost track of time. Did you enjoy leading others and always found yourself as team captain or a leader in various school related activities? Were you always experimenting with designs and enjoyed computer aided drafting classes? Do you have the gift of optimism and seem to keep everyone around you encouraged or enthusiastic no matter the circumstances? These could be clues for your vision.
2) What are your top 3-5 values and why?
Consider the things that you value highly that are non-negotiables in your life. Those things could be anything from family and friends, achievement, faith, learning, adventure, security, relationships, humor and others. Start by brainstorming your top 20 values and then narrow the list to your top 5. Need help? Review this list from entrepreneur James Clear to spark ideas around your possible values.
3) Imagine that you are 100 years old and nearing the end of your life. What do you want people to say about you or what would you have wanted to achieve?
Think of things that you may want to change, impact or improve in yourself, in others or the world. Now, imagine that your vision has come to life. How would this have made a difference in your life and the lives of others and what type of legacy would you have left through your work and life? Define what you are seeking to accomplish by starting at the end of your career and life and working backwards to see the big picture.
Write your responses to the questions in a notebook (physical notebook would be ideal). Evernote or any mobile notes app would also work. This process can take some time from a period of days, weeks or even months. It’s important to write and reflect on the themes that are reappearing each time you put pen to paper.
It took me six months to create my vision of being a “renowned authentic leader that teaches and inspires others to live their best lives.” I also sought guidance from one of my mentors.
In going through the process, I realized that I’d always been a teacher. I loved learning, reading and sharing what I learned with others growing up. I would pull the kids in the neighborhood together and try to teach them anything that I had learned in school that day from French to History (although, they would want to play after a few minutes after being in school all day). What was I thinking?
This was also a theme in my career. Although, I was not a teacher in the traditional sense, I was most fulfilled when I could learn and share knowledge with others, particularly to inspire those who were facing doubts or challenges and to help them navigate stressful situations. My desire was to help people transform every experience into something positive and reach their goals by seeing beyond their current reality. This resulted in my vision.
My vision has now evolved into a life and career vision. Since I have created my vision, my responsibilities inside and outside of work have grown. This has furthered my learning and increased confidence simply through greater clarity around who I am and what I aim to achieve not in the short-term, but in the long-run.
The clarity has helped me to see what’s most important for me to accomplish in life. I see a world where those that I am meant to impact and serve are living their best life and reaching their fullest potential no matter what challenges they may face. How I achieve this vision can change throughout my life, but the vision is clear and consistent. It drives every decision, every goal, and everything that I do in my work and my life.
Create your vision and change your life today!
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