In a world that’s becoming more complex by the day – both in business and day-to-day life, many of us are feeling rudderless. As the number of things we could be focusing on grows, our attention for what actually matters begins to slip away. This is where having a strong vision statement, especially for leaders, becomes so important.
What is a vision statement?
To explain, let’s start with vision. Think about what you truly want to accomplish within your company, community, family, and life. In any domain that you’re striving toward building, or accomplishing something, you’re doing so because you have a vision for that domain. Your vision statement is a neat summary of what your vision is for that domain.
It will define your actions and behaviours toward achieving that vision. For instance, your vision statement for your family life might be:
To maintain a loving, supportive family network
For your work life:
To provide world-class service to as many people as possible
Why personal vision statements are important
The clarity of your action follows the clarity of your vision. If you have a foggy idea of how you want things to be, your actions will reflect that fogginess. You’ll focus on things that don’t move the needle, be more reactive to stress and spend less time working toward your goals.
If you have a strong, crystal clear vision that you’ve committed to a short statement, and you regularly consult that statement, your actions will reflect that vision.
Think of it as a filtering system for your attention. Anything that doesn’t meet the criteria of your vision can be safely ignored, leaving you only laser-like focus for the things that do!
How to write a vision statement
Think about each domain of your life that’s important to you. As mentioned above, for most people, this will be their work, community, and family. Anywhere you want to make a difference. For each of these domains, follow these three steps for writing a personal vision.
1. Reflect upon what you want to accomplish
During this step, you’ll need to dig deep. Ask yourself the big questions. What truly matters to you? What do you really want to achieve? It’s not every day that most of us think about the big stuff, so for many people, this step can be difficult. It might help to do this step as a journaling exercise. Write down what you’d like to accomplish for this domain. Be clear that at this stage you’re not writing your statement itself. You’ll later summarize this writing into your vision statement.
2. Summarize your reflection into a statement
Now you’ve got a long piece of writing for each domain, great! When things get tough and you’re looking for guidance, will you be able to recall this piece to get you back on the right track? For this reason, the next step is to revise your writing and summarise it into a sentence or two. It should be easy to remember, clear, and succinct.
3. Regularly review your statements
Now that you’ve crafted your statements, you’re finished, right? Not so fast. You should think of these statements as a compass for your actions in any given domain. And just like a compass, when you’re lost at sea you’ll need to check it to see if you’re heading in the right direction. At the very least, you should print out your vision statements and place them somewhere prominent so that you’re always reminded of them. Some people even have them inscribed in plaque! The idea is that your various vision statements should always be visible, and accessible so that it is a constant presence that drives your actions, goals and behaviours.