I read a lot of books on personal development, growth, leadership, and so on. One of my all-time favourites is The Power of Full Engagement by authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.
There is a wonderful quote in the book which is:
The issue is not so much whether your life is providing you with a sense of meaning. The issue is whether you are actively using life as a vehicle through which to express your deepest values.
As I grappled with what I was going to write this week—given all the challenges in the world right now—I thought of this quote and wondered how we might apply the thinking behind it to our own lives.
In the book, Loehr and Schwartz introduced me to the idea of a personal vision statement and how that might be a good starting point. I suspect most of you don’t have a personal vision statement and, like me, hadn’t even thought of drafting one.
But why not? Businesses have vision statements that state how they are going to invest their time, resources, and energy, and ultimately what they hope to achieve from those investments.
There is no reason why we can’t also apply the same thinking to our personal lives. There is no reason why we can’t create a statement that reflects our values and presents a framework for how we want to live our lives.
Loehr and Schwartz suggest a vision statement should strike a balance. On one hand, it should be high-level, expressing those intrinsic, deeply held beliefs that govern all aspects of our lives.
On the other hand, the statement should be practical and realistic and used as a blueprint against which to evaluate all major decisions we may face.
If you are successful in achieving that balance, it should allow you to always act in ways that are consistent with your values and turn aside with confidence those opportunities that conflict.
Some people choose to write one vision statement for their personal life and a separate 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 are two sample vision statements, written by coaching clients of ours’:
Sample Vision Statement #1
I value myself as an individual and strive to have balance in my life. This balance will allow me to support all other values that I have. My family and friends are key parts of my life that keep me focused on what the true meaning of life is.
It is important to me to have open, honest relationships with all people in my life. It is important for me to be generous and thoughtful and remember that life is bigger than just me.
I want to continue learning about myself and pushing my growth so that I can be the best person that I can be and help others to realize their own gifts. I enjoy being independent and will strive for excellence in everything that I do. My health is a priority. I want to have fun on the journey.
Sample Vision Statement #2
Personally, in my final chapter, I only hope to enjoy looking at myself in the mirror as much as when I was a young boy. By that I mean: with no regrets and knowing that I gave it my all and was part of the larger good.
The path I have chosen is one dictated primarily by passion, integrity, commitment, and respect. Key for me is learning from others while at the same time, sharing my experiences. Every decision we make has implications so choices such as healthy lifestyle and strong family relationships are key.
My daily goal is to learn, contribute, and have fun. Maintaining a sense of humour is necessary while staying focused on the positive and not making negative assumptions (often incorrect) or unfairly judging others.
Possessions are not how I want to be judged but rather by the respect of my family, friends and colleagues and others who have come to know me.
Why don’t you write the first draft of your own personal vision statement this week?