How And Why To Write A Personal Vision Statement

By Gerald Walsh ©

Many people can recite (reasonably well) their employer’s vision statement. But if you were to be asked What is your personal vision statement? How would you answer?

I suspect most of you don’t have a personal vision statement, and perhaps haven’t even thought of drafting one. If you haven’t, I want to encourage you to create one that reflects your values and at the same time presents a framework for how will invest your time and energy in the future.

Why worry about values and vision?

It’s because the greatest cause of career unhappiness is when people are forced to work in monotonous, meaningless jobs that are in conflict with their values.

Interestingly, many people diagnose (incorrectly) the cause of their own unhappiness. They think it will be cured by more money, extra vacation, flexible work hours, a job closer to home, or even a new boss.

Yet if these changes do occur, their unhappiness usually remains. That’s because the underlying problem still exists: the misalignment of values.

It’s embarrassing to admit but the truth is that most of us are too busy with our jobs and life in general to search for the real purpose of our lives – what we believe in and want from our lives.

This is where a personal vision statement comes in.

Your vision statement should strike a balance. On one hand, it should be high-level – expressing those deeply-held values that govern all aspects of your life.

On the other hand, it should be practical and realistic. If it achieves this level of practicality and realism, you can use it as a blueprint against which to evaluate all major decisions in your career and your life. And it will allow you to act in ways that are consistent with your values and turn away those career opportunities that conflict.

Some people choose to write a personal vision statement for their life and a professional vision statement for their work. I think they should be combined into one document that encompasses all aspects of your life.

What might a personal vision statement look like?

Here is my own personal vision statement which I wrote about 15 years ago. I keep it nearby and review it every three or four months to make sure I am still on track.

I will:

- Live a healthy, active lifestyle;

- Engage in meaningful and enjoyable work that helps other people learn and grow;

- Be community-minded and share my time and talents with those people and organizations who need them;

- Maintain a positive perspective on life, always looking for the good in people and events that happen;

- Nurture relationships with existing and new friends;

- Act in a financially responsible manner by living within my means and planning for the future;

- Continue to learn new things and be open to and explore new ideas and different ways of doing things;

- Live a simpler lifestyle – spend less time working and more time developing outside interests; and

- Maintain relationships that are open, communicative, and respectful.

You’ll see mine is written more as a list rather than a statement. The format doesn’t really matter as long as it reflects your values and is measureable. 

Why don’t you write the first draft of your own personal vision statement this weekend?

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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 15,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.