Vision: “1. The faculty or state of being able to see; the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom; a mental image of what the future will or could be like.”
As a trainer who helps develop employees and organizations, I’ve been in a position to assist with the writing of organization vision statements. When I first started this work in the nineties, the norm was to write vision statements based on a five year plan.
Soon after the year 2000 I started telling my clients the pace of change was coming so fast I recommended vision statements based on their goals for two years from the present and strategy planning that maps out markers for 2, 5, 10, and even 15 years – or more, depending on the company.
As a performance coach I thought, “Why not apply the vision statement concept to our personal lives?” I incorporated this work into my curriculum at college for the Office Assistant program, as well as my individual coaching practice and attitude trainings.
This article is an excerpt from Chapter 10 in Catherine Goggia’s book, “LIVE IT! Mastering Positive Attitude Habits, 15 Practical Tips for Managing Your Mindset,” available on Amazon and through Barnes and Noble online.
Writing things down is more powerful than just thinking about it. Engaging your hands is another step to make your vision real in your brain.
This work was especially inspiring with my college students because of the time I could allocate to the exercise. We met four hours a day for two weeks to prepare them for success in the Office Assistant Program, which was an intensified training curriculum resulting in a certificate after just one semester. I scheduled it so we worked on the wheel of life rating exercise on Friday morning. I assisted students with their action planning for those areas below satisfactory and we ended our Friday meetings with the first draft of their vision statements for each area of their wheel of life.
The most important guideline for the vision statement is that it be written in the present tense, as if it is already happening.
Got it? You think ahead – what do you want your life to look like two years from now?
Listen to Catherine discuss this chapter in the 15 Day Attitude Challenge on her Relatable Leader podcast:
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Vision statement: you write it as if it is already happening. I understand, for some readers, this exercise will seem a bit “woo woo”, but the vision statement exercise has been a game-changer for many people I’ve worked with.
LIVE IT! means you know good things are coming and you have the power to kick-start those good things based on your true desires.
Some of my students knocked the vision statement exercise out of the park to such a degree I had to clarify if they had followed directions for the two years in the future part because, as they read their vision statements, it seemed SO REAL. YES!!! That’s the point.
This might be clearer if I give you examples.
One student described the romance area of her life. “We ride our bicycles in the park on Sunday afternoons. We like to stop at picnic area number 24 in the park for lunch. Since my boyfriend’s favorite sandwich is ham and cheese, I pack two for him. We like to talk about when we will get married and how long we’ll wait before we have a baby. We agree we’d like to do some traveling before we start a family.” She went on to describe the other aspects of their lives together, including the puppy they picked out together. Amazing!
Now THAT’s a specific vision statement! It’s so specific it’s real and as she shared it with us, she conveyed the reality of it. This student successfully completed the Office Assistant program and she is friends with me on my professional facebook page. Her feed is mostly filled with photos of her new baby and of pics of her and her man. Having a vision of what you want your life to be like creates an energy shift and helps you focus on what you truly want (instead of what you DON’T want).
How can you create the life you desire if you aren’t clear about what you want?
The more you can feel the emotions linked to your two year vision statement, the more leverage you’ll create for action. The goal is to create a state of being that makes your vision completely real for you. What you focus on is what you experience. If you focus on what you don’t want, you’ll see more of that. If you focus on what you DO want, you’ll create more of those experiences.
Other students described the house they ‘live’ in: how much the mortgage payment is, how many bedrooms and bathrooms, and the type of neighborhood they live in.
Others described the car they had, the car payment and insurance amounts, and how much they allocated for gas each week.
Health is a fun category for specific details: I weigh xxx pounds. My skin is radiant. My brain is charged with new ideas and clear thoughts. I exercise three times a week (from this time to that time), either working out to an exercise video, riding my stationery bike, or dancing. I meet my 10,000 step goal every day by walking during my lunch break and taking my dogs for a walk when I get home from work. My blood pumps freely. My heart and lungs are strong. I drink 64 oz of water every day. I prepare my lunches for the week on Sunday evening so my healthy eating plan is ready on Monday. I get at least seven hours of sleep every night. My bones and muscles are strong. I’m in good shape and lead an active life.
Sometimes clients hire me to help write their vision statements. This is a fun assignment for me. Face-to-face or over the telephone, I “interview” the person about their goals for each area of the wheel of life. I write the vision statement based on our discussion. In this case I write, “You are…” instead of, “I am,” because in addition to giving the client a written copy of their vision statement, I record it for them so they can listen to it any time they need a mindset boost. I’ve received terrific feedback about the power of this approach. In fact, many clients get emotional when they hear me read their vision statement. For most, it is an entirely new experience.
If you want me to assist you with your vision statement, send me an email request from my website:
I can assist with the writing of your vision statement, as well as record it for you.
In addition to assisting with the vision statement, I also help people map out the action plan to kick-start their vision into reality.
If you write your own vision statement in the powerful, “I AM…” present tense voice, I recommend you read it out loud and record it.
Or – what if you hate writing? Then skip the writing step and record your vision statement: “I AM…” You can use your cell phone to record your visions statement, then you carry it with you.
Sometimes listening to your own voice speaking the truth about the life you want to lead is more impactful than reading your words, and sometimes the writing process helps people organize their thoughts. If you don’t record your vision statement, remember to read it out loud at least once a week to inspire action on your part – stick with your plan and evolve your plan!
My observation: once people start taking consistent action on their vision statement, it doesn’t take two years for the vision to become a reality. People are often surprised by how taking one action is like a domino effect leading to the next action and the next – the key is consistency.
You must create leverage by wanting your vision more than you want short-term gratification time wasters and distractions.
Take action and keep taking action! I think of it like throwing a rope outward to two years in the future and every day you hand-over-hand pull yourself closer to your vision through your decisions and actions.
If you are in a long-term partnership, I recommend each of you write an individual vision statement and then you co-write a couple’s vision statement. One time a person read her vision statement to me and she was living in San Francisco with no mention of her husband. When I brought that up she admitted, yes, he was very upset when she read the vision statement to him, because it was the first he knew of her true desires. He wasn’t in her vision statement because she really didn’t want to be married to him anymore.
Sometimes hiring a coach escalates clarity when people have been living in a fog for years. I don’t tell people what they should want, I simply lead them to defining their goals and the action plan for achieving those goals.
I’ve worked with many people who were reluctant to write vision statements for a myriad of excuses. The truth was, they were afraid to get specific about their life goals.
If this is you, ask: what am I afraid of? Options might include:
- What if I admit what I want, but then I don’t make it happen? I’ll feel even worse about myself than I already do.
- Who am I to dream so big? Why would I think I deserve a happy successful life?
- I’m not extremely satisfied with my life right now, but at least I know what to expect. If I pursue my vision, I will have to face significant change. Why am I afraid of change?
It’s easy to be lazy and stick with what is known – that’s why so many people do it. Picture this: if you don’t define what you want in life by completing this vision statement exercise, and nothing changes, how will you feel three months from now?
Write the first word that comes to your mind if nothing changes in your life for the next two years:
Now then, imagine how you might feel if you define your vision today and start taking action on the life of your dreams! How do you think you will feel three months from now?
Write the first word that comes to your mind if you pursue your life vision and that vision becomes a reality in two years:
If, by chance, you’ve written the same word in both those spaces, maybe the vision statement exercise really isn’t for you. However, I’ve never encountered a person who used the same word in both those spaces, so please be sure you are being honest with yourself.
Pushing yourself outside your comfort zone to try new approaches to life is scary because we truly don’t know how things are going to turn out. Sometimes we are going to feel stupid, or frustrated, or even – like a failure.
I’d much rather have you experience a little bit failure over trying something new, than be stuck in failure feelings because you are too afraid to try something new.
If you want to master positive attitude habits – and I believe you do because you are reading this book – then a flexible mindset is essential. You must be willing to define what you want in life and GO FOR IT!
This chapter includes limiting beliefs, supporting beliefs, action assignments and humorous illustrations.