“A vision is a clearly-articulated, results-oriented picture of a future you intend to create. It is a dream with a direction.” (Jesse Stoner Zemel)
Vision Statements, and their cousins the Mission Statements, are an important part of corporate life. Having a vision that meets the criteria of the quote here is important if you are trying to move your company forward in a certain direction. It clearly states what is the purpose for the company to exist, and should guide the decisions and actions of each employee. If the company is large enough, then there will likely be a cascading set of objectives that align to the vision so that each person pulls their oar in the proper direction. Vision statements, like the ones described in this quote, have their place to be sure.
Over the last 15 years or so, it has been very popular to apply this same principle to a person’s life. I have been in countless sessions where people were asked to create their own vision statement. “Be bold,” “Be specific,” “Time bound your activities,” are all phrases used to help people write aspirational visions for themselves in their personal lives.
I suppose that if a person is a very organized, type A, achievement oriented go-getter in their home life, then these vision statements work well for them. But they never really have for me.
I used to think it was because I lacked the discipline to truly stay on the course of my vision, and to constantly revise and enhance the vision. I imagined that my inability to stick to a personal vision meant that – at some level – my aspirations were doomed.
More recently I have come to realize that it isn’t that I lack discipline, or am some kind of vision-slacker. For me these visions don’t work because I just don’t think that way on a daily basis. I am not a person who wakes up in the morning and decides what to do based on a vision and set of personal objectives. I wake up and decide what I will do based on what needs to be done, and then what I want to get done.
I need to go to work, and once there I have my lists of needs and wants for the day. When I get home I have a similar list of needs and wants. I need to pay bills, do taxes, do household chores. I want to write, take pictures, read, and enrich my brain. I don’t align each of these activities to a vision statement because it would be ever changing.
Everyone is different. For many these vision statements work well for their personal lives, and I applaud them for finding something that works well for them. For me, I want to live in the today. I want to attack THIS day with some enthusiasm, and enjoy the sense of accomplishment I feel from the activities of today. I don’t want to lay my head down at night and wonder whether the things I did match a vision that I created for myself. I have enough to worry about with the demands others place on me. I don’t need my own vision adding to the heap.