The Value of Vision

Mary Rosenbaum | June 30th, 2009

Here is an article I read in Harvard Business Publishing that articulates the value of having a vision for your life.  If you are building a business or establishing your career, your vision of your life, both personal and professional, impact the choices you make. Your vision encompasses your values and helps establish your goals – your roadmap to where you are going.


What’s Your Vision of the Good Life?

Posted by Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek on August 18, 2008

While world-class organizations craft banner vision statements to inspire their efforts toward success, most people haven’t thought to do so for themselves. As we watch the Olympic Games in Beijing, we are reminded in interview after interview with champion athletes about the importance of envisioning their success, of visualizing their performance flowing perfectly, leading to the medal ceremony and their dreams coming true. Aristotle observed that “the soul never thinks without a picture.”

Creating a compelling vision for our lives — one that includes not just a vision of our professional accomplishments but also a vision for family life, education, health, community engagements, travel, and adventures — can point us in new directions and provide the drive we need to get there. A personal vision statement asks: what do I want to be, do, and contribute in life — and who do I want to share it with?

Some people struggle with the notion of having a vision of the good life because it sounds abstract and distant. Fortunately, authors Richard Leider and David Shapiro have come to the rescue with an elegantly simple definition of the good life: “living in the place you belong, with the people you love, doing the right work — on purpose.”

Keep in mind that vision is different from purpose (a.k.a. “mission”) and goals. Our purpose is our reason for being, and we should think of it as timeless. Our goals are the objectives we want to accomplish, and they are best conceived in one- to three-year increments. By contrast, our life vision is a vivid description of what we will do with our lives. It’s best thought of over a decade, or even a lifetime. Our life vision should take our breath away with its audacity. It should roar with passion and set markers for what we plan to do with our days on the planet.

As we craft a vision for our lives, we should ensure that it is:

  • Vivid enough to capture our (and others’) imagination
  • Unbounded by the status quo
  • Aligned with our authentic essence
  • Distant enough that we have to work toward it
  • Clear enough that we can measure our progress against it
  • Broad enough to encompass all the major aspects of our lives (including personal, professional, and relationships)

Note, though, that a good vision will evolve over time. Having a vision can be a catalyzing force in our lives, but we shouldn’t expect that we will travel a linear path from point A to point B to realize it. Sometimes “stuff” happens.

Most importantly, our vision needs to be grounded in who we are. Many people stumble here, neglecting to look inward before projecting outward. Carl Jung says that “Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” In essence, our vision statement is an authentic rendering of how our purpose and values can play out in the world.


So be bold as you craft your vision of the good life.

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