How to create a personal Vision Statement

One of the most significant and overlooked exercises you can do, is to write a Vision Statement.  This is counter intuitive.  Writing a Vision Statement is like writing a Resume.  It should be easy but it’s hard.  We must decide what we want.  Life has a way of beating what we want out of us.  And you have to get it back.  So, writing a Vision is one of the steps.  It’s worth it to keep at it.  And it must be written.

First, I’m going to define what I mean by the term Vision Statement.  I want to differentiate between Vision, Goal, and Task.  A Vision is WHAT you want your life to look like; it isn’t about how to get there.  As an example, one of my items on my Vision is: 

“I am sitting on a beach working on my computer (making money).  After a couple of hours, I close my computer and Damm, I’m at the beach with family and friends.”

It has emotion, and describes WHAT I want, NOT how to get there.  This is important.

A GOAL is where we start to get more specific on the how – Example: I will buy 1 property per month so I can make $10,000 in cashflow from my rentals per month. 

Then a TASK is finding properties and I’ll make offers on 6 properties per month.

After you have written the Vision Statement, you want to read it every day (twice if you can) for AT LEAST 6 weeks.  After reading it for a week or so, it will start to become so ‘familiar’ that you can look at it and it will become easy to read quickly.  Soon, it becomes so familiar you can look at the document and hear it echoing in your head.  This is when it is MOST important to keep it up.  6 weeks minimum.

Now, I’m going to talk to you about something that could be interpreted as magic (or as my sister would say – woo-woo).  Just bear with me.  There is an interesting process in the human brain that occurs when you have a decent Vision Statement and read it so often that you internalize it.  There are 2 major levels in the brain: the Amygdala and the Cortex.   The Amygdala is that part of the brain, also called the reptilian brain, that handles ‘automatic’ responses.  This is where muscle memory resides.  Repeat something often enough and then you do it automatically.  And it’s fast.  When the car in front of you stops suddenly, you react instantly.  This is the Amygdala doing it’s job.  But it’s not good at subtly.  It can’t say, the car is turning, and you can easily go around it. No, it hits the brakes. 

The Cortex is the part of us that makes us Human.  It can think through things. It can look at alternatives. It can reason that ‘in this situation’ we don’t want to do “X”.  But it’s slow; lots of neurons to go through and process.  This is the thinking part of the brain.  So when we write a Vision Statement, this is the part that creates it.  It thinks through various options:  Do I want the Beach or the Mountains?  

So, we create the Vision Statement with the Cortex – i.e. we ‘create’ it when we have time to think about what we really want.  Do we want this or that?  WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR LIFE TO LOOK LIKE?  Take your time, really think about it.

One step, after the core is written, is to convert all sentences to (1) current tense, and (2) positive format.  Here is where we return to the Amygdala.  It functions on an action basis.  It does not understand negatives.  A statement like ‘I don’t smoke’ gets translated to ‘I smoke’.  So use positive tense, but do this after you have the core ideas.  Initially it could be I quit smoking and re-write it to “I am Smoke Free.  Cigarettes repel me.” 

The thing about reading a Vision Statement over and over and over and over is that it ‘programs’ the Amygdala.  Normally, the Amygdala is programmed by events in life.  A scary event takes the input and the result and creates pathways.  We want to re-program the pathways the way we want, thus over and over and over.

Then an amazing thing happens, when we have a decision to make, such as do we make an offer on this house or pass starts to trigger the programming and ‘auto-magically’ the right decision gets make and it feels right.  Wow, amazing things happen without having to ‘force it’.  

It’s not a perfect system, but do you want to take control of your life?  Just do it.  The good news is when it is done with energy and intent and ‘over and over and over’, it does it in a way that appears magical and automatic. 

Now about the practical process to writing a Vision Statement.  A Vision Statement is very personal.  You do not need to show it to anyone.  I do suggest you show it to someone you trust will support you.  What you want to do is write a few sentences in each of a bunch of different areas in your life.  Do the business part last.  Please feel free to add/delete sections to fit your life.

The topics I suggest starting with are (in no particular order):

  • Health                                                                 
  • Family
  • Friends                                                                
  • Personal Development
  • Professional Development                          
  • Travel/Experiences
  • Needs                                                                  
  • Wants
  • Spiritual                                                               
  • No Regrets/Bucket List
  • Charitable                                                          
  • Personal Gratification
  • Hobbies                                                              
  • Business

Based on your life, narrow this down to approx. 8.  For example, my categories are:

  • Family, Health, Travel, Friends, Spiritual/Charity, Problem Solving, Give Back, Wants/Personal Gratification, My Perfect Day (oops 9, that’s close to 8).

That last one is a great idea.  So, what does your perfect day look like?  Mine is good FOR ME:

I’m sitting working with my computer creating something profitable and/or useful for several hours, at a beach house (or hammock at the beach or front porch), and then I close my computer and, Damm, I’m at the beach with people I love.

I’ve seen ½ page Vision Statements and 6 pages ones.  Whatever works for you.  Hint: the shorter one allows you to read it faster ‘over and over and over’.  You may want to start with the longer version (its actually easier to write) then condense it into more precise language over time.  Vision Statements are not static.  Every couple of times I read mine, I will make a word change or two.

You might notice I keep focusing on reading it a lot.  Writing it at all creates magic.  Reading over and over creates things beyond your wildest dreams.

We started by talking about Vision, Goal, and Tasks.  The most important is the Vision.  And don’t worry if it’s not good enough, it WILL change over time.  Well, we hope it changes over time.  As you achieve items in your Vision you will want to update it to stretch further.  I re-write mine about once a year (no, not on a specific date, just as I feel I need to).

A Vision will change your life; spend the time writing one.  Even an incomplete one helps.  Start with the categories and make the magic happen!

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