The Importance of Personal Vision

Three reasons why you need a Personal Vision Statement

by Rob Petrini

[This post originally appeared on and has been re-posted with kind permission from the author]

Pause for a moment. Take a deep breath. Exhale. Now…
In 6 words, describe yourself. Take a moment. Write it down.
Why 6 words? It forces us to be succinct with ourselves. Simple. Straight to the point. We will generally use single words, adjectives, to describe ourselves. But if I were to ask you to write your memoir in 6 words, how would that differ from describing yourself?

For many of us, describing ourselves is an activity that blurs the lines between how we see ourselves today and who we are looking forward to being. I would see myself, for example, as an activator, even if, in the current scheme of things, I am not fully realizing my activator potential. I know who I can be, and that influences the way I see myself today.

That’s not what happens when we write a memoir. Looking back, we tend to see what’s missing or is still yet to come. The unrealized potential. That’s because, for most of us, our life decisions have not yet allowed us to feel complete. As it stands, our memoirs are filled with unfulfilled goals, dampened by the reality of unrealized potential. Unfortunately, for many of us, our memoir does not move beyond that.

Something as simple as a personal vision statement can help by helping us become a little more intentional about realizing our potential and fulfilling our goals.

Why Have a Personal Vision Statement?

First of all, a personal vision statement is not:

  • A bucket list or to-do list
  • A motto or life statement

Bernard K. Haynes, CEO of Lead to Impact, defines a personal vision statement as:

…your GPS that guides you to the destination designed for your life. It ensures you stay focused on your vision’s plan and not get involved with anything or anyone that will sidetrack. It is your guiding light to lead you through the storms and obstacles that will challenge your direction.

When an organization has a vision, the whole company is geared toward it. Everything moves in the direction of the vision. In my work coaching leaders, many of them can tell me the vision statement of the organization they work for, but many don’t have a vision for themselves. If you are operating without a personal vision, sooner or later you will find that life will become unfulfilling. Rather than being driven by a rudder, you will find yourself driven by the tides of life, pushing and pulling you in all directions.

Achieving vs. Becoming

A personal vision statement is about you. Who you are becoming. Life is not about achieving, it is about becoming. When we redirect our compasses to becoming rather than achieving, we allow our achievements to well up from within us rather than having them, from the outside, shape us.

This requires self-awareness. In writing a personal vision statement we need to be self-aware – it is the foundation that helps us see ourselves objectively.

Three Reasons to Have a Personal Vision Statement

It seems simplistic to reduce such an important aspect of our life journey to just three reasons. Yet, fundamentally, these three are the core foundation of a personal vision statement.

1. Direction. If you, in your first ever visit to California, were asked to drive from Los Angeles to Elk Grove, you would either enter the address in your GPS or pull out a roadmap. It would be risky, and ultimately costly if you just got in the car and drove without knowing which direction to even begin. So why do it with your life? There are too many distractions in life that will set up detours on your life’s journey. An amazing job opportunity. Well-meaning advice from colleagues. Discouragements that knock you about. A personal vision statement is your life’s roadmap, keeping you focused on what’s important to you. And while distractions are inevitable, having a direction will keep you on track. It allows you to say “no” to those things that sidetrack you from the path.

When plotting out your direction, begin by asking yourself:

  • What 3 things do you love about yourself?
  • What are your 3 most obvious strengths?
  • What are 3 elements in your life, that without which, you would feel incomplete?
  • What 3 things brought you the most joy in the last 10 years?
  • What 3 things will bring you the most joy in the next 10 years?

2. Self-Care. A personal vision statement is instrumental for our self-care. Self-care is about maintaining a healthy balance between where you are now and where you are wanting to be. Life is one, long journey, and many things will suffer along the way if we are unable to keep a healthy balance. Ask yourself:

  • If you never had to work another day in your life, how would you spend your time instead of working?
  • What do you think makes life meaningful?
  • If your life were to end today, what will you regret the most?

3. Inspiration. A personal vision statement inspires you. Reading it will motivate you. It speaks your language. It speaks to the heart of who you are. When you find yourself stuck in life, your personal vision statement is the kick you need to get you back on track. If it doesn’t inspire you then it’s not doing its job. Ask yourself:

  • What are your 5 most important values in life right now?
  • What are your passions? If you had to choose one, which would it be?
  • When do you feel the most motivated?

My own personal vision statement is about a page long. I am a complex human being that needs more than just a sentence to sum up who I am. Don’t hesitate to take time and write as much as you feel is necessary. A personal vision statement is not just a tonic for forward-looking people. It’s the manifesto that shifts your focus from today’s problems to tomorrow’s possibilities.

Rob Petrini

Rob Petrini is the Senior Pastor at Hutt City Baptist Church, in Lower Hutt. He has pastored churches in New Zealand, Australia and the United States and has a CV that includes two church plants. Rob has degrees in medical science and theology. He is a commercial aviation hobbyist (from photography to scale model collecting), loves all things Apple and is a die-hard member of Liverpool Football Club. He is married to Monica, and they have three daughters. Rob completed the Arrow Leadership programme in 2014.

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