by Dr. Linda Phillips-Jones

It's good to create or revise the "personal vision" you have for your life. A compelling vision can help you succeed, be more satisfied with your life, and get the most out of your mentoring relationships. Following is a tool for doing that.

Importance of Having a Personal Vision

Numerous experts on leadership and personal development emphasize how vital it is for you to craft your own personal vision for your life. Warren Bennis, Stephen Covey, Peter Senge, and others point out that a powerful vision can help you succeed far beyond where you'd be without one. That vision can propel you and inspire those around you to reach their own dreams. I've learned in my own life and in working as a psychologist that if you don't identify your vision, others will plan and direct your life for you. I've worked with too many individuals who late in their lives said, "If only…" You don't have to be one of them.

Senge defines vision as what you want to create of yourself and the world around you. What does your vision include? Making a vital change in an area such as health, technology, or the environment? Raising happy, well-adjusted children? Writing a book? Owning your own business? Living on a beach? Being very fit and healthy? Visiting every continent? Helping others with their spiritual development? What are you good at? What do you love to do? What aren't you good at now, but you'd like to be? All of these important questions are part of identifying your personal vision.

Use this Tool #1 to think through and start to craft your personal vision. It's adapted from many sources and should prompt you to think and dream. Find a place without distractions such as a quiet table at a restaurant. Answer as many of the questions as possible, and discuss your responses with someone you trust.

Personal Vision Tool #1

Things I Enjoy Doing What Brings Me Happiness/Joy The Two Best Moments of My Past Week Three Things I'd Do If I Won the Lottery
Issues or Causes I Care Deeply About My Most Important Values (Circle) Things I Can Do at the Good-to-Excellent Level What I'd Like to Stop Doing or Do as Little as Possible
Having integrity Serving/pleasing God Being fit and healthy Having a nice home and belongings Leaving the world a better place Having fun Learning and improving myself Making others' lives easier or more pleasant Enjoying my family Others? (Add)

Did any of these questions trigger some ideas about what you'd like to be doing with your life between now and 2005? If so, keep thinking about the questions and your answers, and continue your personal research.

WRITING A PERSONAL VISION STATEMENT

In a nutshell, your personal vision is what you want to be, do, feel, think, own, associate with, and impact by some date in the future. We recommend that you identify your Personal Vision as a development strategy. We're providing some tools to help you identify and implement your personal vision.

In a previous article, we encouraged you to begin thinking about your personal vision. If you have not yet done so, go to Creating or Revising Your Personal Vision (Tool #1). Print a copy, and spend at least an hour by yourself completing it. You won't be able to do this task if you don't complete that important initial step.)

It's now time to pull together your research and write a Personal Vision Statement. Your vision must be unique and appropriate for you, so we offer the following Personal Vision Statement only as an example:

I am more physically fit, almost finished with my formal education, actively involved in two close personal relationships, worshipping and serving God regularly, having fun every day, and making at least 75% as much money as now doing work that I love.

Notice in this sample that the person included several areas of life (physical, intellectual, social, spiritual, emotional, and career). It's a picture of how the person sees himself/herself and is written in the present tense.

Use the following tool to synthesize what you've learned about yourself and to write your own statement.

Tool #2: Personal Vision Statement

1. Based on my personal research, these are the main things that motivate me/bring me joy and satisfaction:
2. My greatest strengths/abilities/traits/things I do best:
3. At least two things I can start doing/do more often that use my strengths and bring me joy:
4. This is my Personal Vision Statement for myself (in 50 words or less):

Talk about your findings and your Vision Statement with someone you trust. If necessary, make a second, better draft, but don't compromise your passion. Think big, and hold onto your excitement! Now you're ready to turn your Vision Statement into an action plan.