Welcome to 2016! To begin your year, I recommend revisiting (or creating) your vision.

As part of my December routine (birthday and New Year’s both in the same month), I revisit and update my personal vision over the New Year’s break. My vision and values serve as an important foundation for who I am and how I live my life. As the CEO of my company and also as a leadership faculty member, it is important for me to live what I teach. This is one of the core practices. I also revisit it regularly to ensure I am living what I say.

Simply put your vision and aspirations help you decide where best to invest your time and energy. Clarifying them helps you define a manner of contributing to the world that authentically honors who you are. Your vision and aspirations further help you clarify what you want to accomplish over time.

For those of you who resist this process, it is true that you will not spend an hour over the weekend and suddenly determine your life purpose. It is true, however, that capturing your general direction is a great start and you can refine it over time.

A colleague and friend, Mike Sayre, CEO of NexDefense, talks about how he used his personal vision to select his current role. He has been a strong proponent of the importance of knowing and living your personal vision and sharing it with others so they know what to expect of you. You can listen to Mike talk about his vision as well as his company in a Voice America Interview. He is a great example of a leader who follows his vision as the foundation for his choices.

The following exercise is drawn from the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Global Leaders focusing on defining your personal vision

Follow the steps defined below:
Step 1: Create a picture of your future. Imagine yourself at the end of your life. You are looking back and imagining what you have done and the results you have created. •What is the thing you are proudest of?
•Did you have a family?
•What would your family say about you?
•What did you accomplish professionally?
•What would your friends say about you?
For the rest of this exercise, let that future person speak to you and help you set a path that will enable you to look back with pride and say things like, “I feel fulfilled and at peace. I lived my life well.”

Step 2: Write a story. Now that you have that image of what you will accomplish, write a brief story about your successful life. Include details about the questions above. Make it a story of what you went through to accomplish each of the results for the questions you answered. What you are trying to create is a roadmap for your journey that gives you more insight into what you want if you had the option to design your perfect life. •Who helped you along the way?
•What did you enjoy about your daily life?
•Who was closest to you?
•What feelings did you have as you accomplished each milestone along the way?
•How did you mentor others and contribute to the success of others?
•What did you do to maintain your health?
•What role did spirituality or religion play in your journey?
•What job did you have?
•What role did material success play in your life?
•What type of person were you (kind, caring, driven, gracious)?

Step 3: Describe your personal vision. Given the story you have written and the qualities you demonstrated as a person, write a two to five sentence life purpose statement—a statement that talks about your highest priorities in life and your inspirations. This statement should capture the essence of how you want to live your life and project yourself.

An example – I develop myself to my greatest capacity and help others develop and thrive in all aspects of their lives. I am wise, conscious, compassionate and courageous, and contribute to making the world a better place.

Step 4: Expand and clarify your vision. If you are like most people, the choices you wrote are a mixture of selfless and self-centered elements. People sometimes ask, “Is it all right to want to be covered in jewels, or to own a luxury car?” Part of the purpose of this exercise is to suspend your judgment about what is “worth” desiring, and to ask instead which aspect of these visions is closest to your deepest desire. To find out, ask yourself the following questions about each element before going on to the next one: If I could have it now, would I take it?

Some elements of your vision don’t make it past this question. Others pass the test conditionally: “Yes, I want it, but only if…” Others pass, however are clarified in the process.

As you complete this exercise, refine your vision to reflect any changes you want to make.

After defining and clarifying your vision, it is time to consider your personal values. The combination of these two exercises will help you create the foundation of what you want to accomplish and the core principles that guide your actions as you work toward your vision.

In the next blog post, we will explore defining personal values. I encourage you to enjoy exploring the process of creating a personal vision and even more important – reference it daily. Let your vision be a foundation that guides your actions.

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