You have written a resume, a CV, a cover letter. Do you need a personal vision statement as well? The answer is yes. Unlike the first three documents that you send to other people, a personal vision statement is for you.
It is a summary of your career and personal goals and what you need to do to get there. A personal vision statement can be that guiding light amidst the changes, challenges and triumphs of professional and personal life.
Your vision statement will be one short paragraph but it will contain a lot. For that reason, writing one will take some time and personal reflection. To start, write freely and edit along the way.
Assess your strengths and weaknesses
Your strengths are a good indicator of what you will excel at so list them down. These might be things that come naturally to you or things that you have perfected over the years.
Many of us have a blind spot when it comes to evaluating ourselves so it is not a bad idea to ask a trusted friend or a mentor for their input. However, just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you necessarily want to turn it into a career.
List your weaknesses down as well because they will show you what you may need to improve. Your personal vision statement is future oriented so you have the time to learn new skills and to polish ones that are not as developed if you feel they are important to hitting your goal.
Envision the future
What does your life look like in the future? Envisioning a clear picture of the years ahead will give you an idea of what your personal vision statement should look like. Perhaps there is a problem you wish to solve or a qualification you see yourself attaining. If you see yourself working with community leaders on short term projects, write it down.
Be clear on your motivation
In order to see your goals to reality, you must have a clear driving force. Why do you want to do what you want to do? This answer should be incorporated into your personal vision statement.
This is the statement for the non-profit, Cradles to Crayons:
Provides children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive – at home, at school, and at play.
It is clear that they do what they do for the children.
Making your motivation clear will help to give you that extra nudge when the journey gets rough.
Tap into your values
Name the ideals that matter to you. These may be joy, honesty or safety. Knowing what you value guides your path. It can also help you inspire others to join you on your quest.
Balance internal and external outcomes
In as much as our lives should serve others, they should serve us as well. Your vision should be fulfilling and rewarding to you as well. The personal vision statement you write should clearly state what you stand to reap.
Give yourself a challenge
Don’t feel sorry for yourself and set goals that you will achieve in a few months. The goals you set should be challenging enough but achievable. Know that you can succeed and set the steps in place to get you there. Besides, research indicates that harder goals produce higher levels of performance than easy ones. Your personal vision statement should reflect the challenge you have set for yourself.
Why you should write a personal vision statement
To have a road map
A personal vision statement will act as a guide for your work and life journey. Where do you want to go and what do you want to do? Think about driving without map versus driving with one. It helps to have a guide to show where the crucial stop points are and where you need to make diversions.
There is power in writing things down
Writing something down, by hand, and not simply typing a note, helps us to remember it more according to research. Writing leads to increased retention and understanding and it activates certain pathways in the brain. When you write out your statement, you are more likely to keep it top of mind and work towards it.
It will help to pick you up when you stumble
Setbacks are an inevitable part of life. You could get laid off, your business could have to close unexpectedly or you could lose your motivation. In such times, you can look back at your personal vision statement to remind you of your purpose. This can be the pick-up you need to get back on track.
It helps you to align personal and career goals
It is a thing of the far past to think personal life doesn’t affect work life and vice versa. A personal vision statement can guide you towards making these two important areas of life gel as opposed to being in conflict. A personal vision statement can help you to support both.
To guide you on when to say yes and when to say no
Companies develop mission statements to guide them in times of uncertainty. Should you say yes to that merger and grow larger but risk being unable to take care of staff as before? If your mission statement states that taking care of your employees is part of your identity then the answer is easier.
In the same way, individuals will be presented with work situations where it is hard to say yes or no. Imagine an executive who is faced with this dilemma: To take a promotion at her current job in the education field versus taking a job in another field that promises a lot more money.
If her personal vision statement was something like, ‘To use my skills to help young children get quality education and be a leader in my field by age 35’ It will be easier for her to say no to the new job.
A personal vision statement helps to guide you not just in your career but in your personal life as well. It acts as a reminder for why you are doing what you are doing and as a map to keep you on track with your goals. It allows you to make decisions that are calculated, to filter out the emotions and external influences and stick to your pre-determined plan.