Success Strategies: Let your vision statement be your guide

Jan 18 2012 - 8:08pm


What's your vision of the future? Do you feel your life is on autopilot heading nowhere? What kind of life do you want to have? What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? This column will be dedicated to helping you set a course for the life you want and, more importantly, were meant to have.

The challenges of today's workplace are exciting and terrifying. As the economy stalls, new directions are required. In a lifetime, we typically change careers 10 times. And 90 percent of American workers don't like their jobs.

I will provide strategies for adapting to today's changing realities that will help make your journey less stressful and more enjoyable and fulfilling. It is still possible to live to our full potential, to achieve worthwhile goals and dreams and live a life of purpose, power and prosperity.

If you don't have a dream or vision of the future, then your future threatens to be just a repeat of the past. The first step in achieving your dream is to write it down. You can never truly reach something that is never defined and visualized.

Here are a few tips to help you create your own vision statement. Don't feel you have to get it perfect the first time. Things can always be tweaked later as we go on this journey together.

* Start with your dream list. What do you want in life? This is the place to write down everything you've ever wanted to be, do, have and achieve. At this time, let's focus mainly on career, finances and retirement. I suggest you review the list weekly in order to keep your dreams fresh in your mind. And it's great to look and see what dreams you've accomplished as time goes on. You can add and delete items at any time.

* Identify your strengths. What are you great at? What are your unique skills? What are your natural talents and abilities? What do others who know you well say that you are good at? Make a list of all the things you do well. You might be surprised at how big your list gets.

* Identify your passions. What are the things, tasks, ideas or causes that really inspire and energize you? The things you'd do if you had all the money in the world to do them? You can write down several passions in each of the three areas, then narrow it down to your top three.

* Clarify your personal values. Why do you have these dreams and passions? This will require some thought and honesty. Your values are the principles that are most important to you. They include the things that are non-negotiable in your life. They are the driving force behind your dreams and your passions.

Write down a couple values for each of the three areas if you can. For example: making a difference, being debt free, living with integrity, generosity, financial independence, career advancement, excellence, travel, legacy, power, fame.

* Identify your preferred future. Using all the information above, think about how they all might intersect. Start to define and visualize your preferred future or dream life. Don't limit yourself by only thinking about what you can easily accomplish based on where you are today.

Think in terms of your full potential. What could you accomplish in your life if you stretched yourself, took a risk and made a plan? What would you like to see happen in your life over the next three to five years? What does your dream life look like? Write a preferred future statement.

* Write your vision statement. Finally, look back over everything you've written so far, and boil it all down to a one- or two-paragraph statement of what success looks like to you. What changes do you have to make so that whatever you do is leading you to the realization of your future? As I mentioned earlier, you don't have to get it perfect right now. Write the first draft and let it sit for a while. Come back to it in a few days and see how it feels.

When you feel like you've defined success the way you want it, print it and use it to guide your actions and decisions as you continue to set a course for success.

Armed with this new vision of success, you now have a firm grasp on what you want in your life (based on your dreams, strengths and passions), why you want it (based on your personal values) and how you can achieve it (based on your preferred future and vision statement).

Brad Larsen is a life coach and corporate consultant. He can be reached at

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