Setting an Inspiring Vision For Your Life

Why Start with Who and Where You Are Before Creating A Vision or Goals

Together, your values and your situation have a significant impact on your satisfaction today and what makes the most sense to focus on going forward. It is often helpful before starting to form Vision statements for your life to do a situation assessment as this will help you get a better picture of how you are doing overall in your life. This way you can reflect on both your current level of satisfaction with your life and which areas in particular are most important to work on.

Similarly, your Values have a significant influence over how you move forward, especially in the trade-offs you will have to make (career/personal time, etc) going forward. This is why it is helpful to spend time both better understanding where you are, as well as who you are (personality, values, etc.) before working to set a vision for your life overall and within key parts of it.

The Difference Between Visions and Goals

It is important to understand the difference between a Vision statement and a Goal. A Vision statement is a qualitative statement about your life (or business) overall and a part of that is described as an outcome. For example, “I love going to work each day and come home excited about what I have accomplished, ready to spend time with my family.”

On the other hand, a Goal statement, which may be built from a Vision statement, is very specific in terms of what you are going to achieve (when, how, with whom, etc.). Since Vision statements are the foundation for a good Goal statement, it is very important to start with a strong set of Vision statements, as this will provide the insight, sense of priority and the feeling of importance needed to develop compelling Goal statements. Statements in which you are willing to do what is required to be successful and to achieve the benefits you desire.

Develop a Wish List

Keeping your situation and values in mind, we are going to start the Vision setting process by creating a wish list. Different people have recommended that you think of three different types of items to put on your list:

1) those things you want to do,
2) those items you wish to own, and
3) the type of person you want to be. 

While this fairly common exercise has been around for many years, it is most often associated with Goal setting.  However, given our ability to create great goals is dependent on the clarity of the visions, and that people are generally much better at reviewing a range of ideas (such as do, be, or have related) for insight they can use to come up with meaningful vision statements, we believe it is important to do this exercise here first.

To start, position yourself in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed and start writing out everything you would like to Do, everything you would like to Be and everything you would like to Have in your life, today and in the future.

There are no limits, try to go for at least 50 items total, and spend at least 30 minutes on the list. If you are doing this program with someone else do this part individually and then feel free to compare after you are done. Once complete review the list once, make any initial additions (We’ll handle modifications and deletions later.), and then set it aside for a day to give time to further reflect.

Organize and value the Items on Your List

Organize your do, be, and have list. Divide a clean piece of paper into four columns with the following above each column at the top of the page:

  1. Do, Be, or Have
  2. Why this is important
  3. Score
  4. Select/Pass/Delete

Now, reviewing your wish list items, copy them one to a row onto the Do, Be, and Have sheet you have just created. Next, write why each is important in the importance column. Then, after Vision 20 you have done that for each item, assign a score in the score column. one in the “score” column, write a number from 1-10 rating how important it is for you to achieve that item (1 = nice to have; 10 = extremely important). Note, depending on how many items you have you may need more than one piece of paper.

Once you have done this, review your list and for each row (item, why it is important, and score), either write an S (Select; this item is very important to you.), P (Park an item for later; it is important but there are others which feel much more important.) or D (Delete; this would be nice but doesn’t really make the priority list.). For example: 

Take an annual trip to Hawaii; renew ourselves; 8; S

One note: This isn’t about writing down a certain number of ideas. This is about further clarifying what it is you really want in life. Oftentimes people will start with long lists of tangible things to own, Have items, and then realize as they review the list that some Be or Do items actually mean more to them, and they will naturally and easily drop a few tangible items off the list and expand the Be or Do items.

Categorize the Items on Your List

Take a clean sheet of paper and:

  1. Write: “Type”
  2. Then skip a line and write the numbers 1-10 below it, one number to a row
  3. Then skip a line and write “My summary vision statement for this area of my life is:”

Repeat this seven times so you have seven sheets with the heading, seven rows, and the summary line.

One to a page, write the following seven headings in the type heading at the top of the page. This way you will have seven sheet, one for each area of your life:

  1. Relationship
  2. Physical
  3. Mental
  4. Spiritual
  5. Environment
  6. Financial
  7. Career/Business

Next, looking at the Do, Be, and Have list, starting with the highest scoring item(s), for each item with an S identify which category page it belongs on and write it there. At the end you will have seven pieces of paper, each with a short list of items on it. Note, you will want to save these pieces of paper as thought starters when you complete the goals work.

One note, why re-write the list again and again? Each time you rewrite the list you are getting rid of potential distractions and focusing your mind on the key points. While this is automatically done in the online tool, doing it on paper, while taking more time, is still very valuable.

You have now categorized the ideas into the various areas of your life. At this point one or more common thoughts may have come into your mind:

  1. The most common realization is that your list is heavily focused in a few areas. This is a key insight. In order to be sustainably successful we need balance. Take a look at those areas where you have an opportunity to enhance your thinking, and write down some ideas (Do, Have, or Be as appropriate) to further refine those areas and help ensure, if you were to achieve those items, you will have achieved what you consider success for that area.
  2. Another common realization is that many of the ideas in a particular area are similar and could be consolidated. Take a moment to do this now. Don’t worry about losing too much detail as that will come back when you are working on goals. This step will also help you to better move from a list of wants to compelling vision statements for each area of your life.
  3. A third one is that an idea can fit into more than one area of your life. For example, biking on a regular basis with a good friend. Biking is clearly something that will help your physical well-being (if not over-done of course) while doing it with a friend can enhance your relationships well being (and also make it more likely you will actually bike on a regular basis). The solution is to put it in both areas. Don’t worry about the overlap. The categorization is to help ensure you are focused in a balanced way across your life. When you set up specific goals and work toward them many times, they will support your vision across multiple parts of your life. 

Write a Vision Statement For Each Area of Your Life

Review the items on each page and, one page at a time, write a sentence at the bottom of each which captures the essence of the ideas listed in a particular area of your life.  For example, possible ideas for the Physical Well-Being area are:

  • Tons of energy all day.
  • Enjoy a range of foods without gaining weight.
  • Never get sick.
  • Be able to run with my children.

Examples of how those could be translated into Financial Vision statements:

  • “I want the physical health to be able to fully enjoy activities I love with the people I enjoy.”
  • “I want to experience life, and don’t want my physical health to limit me.”

Start with any area of your life and repeat for each.

Refine and Complete Your Vision Statements

Look at the vision statements for each area of your life and answer the following questions:

  • Is it inspiring, and can you emotionally commit to achieving it?
  • Is it truly important to you?
  • Is it stretching, but can you still see yourself achieving it?
  • Is it truly your own vision and not someone else’s (parent, boss, etc.) for you?
  • Is it positive and sustainable over time?

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