“Create a vision for the life you really want and then work relentlessly towards making it a reality.”--Roy T. Bennett, The Light In The Heart
Vision is a concept I thought about my entire life. I didn’t have a name for it then, people just considered me a daydreamer. Standing at the crossroads of my imagination, I stared in every direction.
I wandered here and there, and my future was only a dream.
Until, I began college and took a class entitled, “How to Succeed in College,” and discovered goal setting. I started writing down my goals for graduating. I accomplished them and became a first-generation college graduate.
Then, I lost my way.
Over thirty later, after retirement and the kids left home, I started to think about my life and setting goals again. However, I felt I needed something more. After years of studying other people’s action plans, and much reflection, I formulated what my plan might look like. I had an idea of what I wanted to do — write.
Then, I decided to name my plan, Debbie’s Action Plan (DAP) using the following outline:
Vision statement — Mission Statement — Goals — Tasks
Where do I begin? I took a deep breath to clear my mind. Then, I decided to make some preparations. First thing, we have to create a physical space to call our own — desk, room, chair — in which to write.
- Have writing materials available within your space: laptop, writing pad, pens, pencils, and sharpeners.
- Turn off all distractions-except the lights.
- Sit up straight with your feet on the floor. Unless you have a gravity-free chair.
- Breathe deeply.
- Pray/meditate. I ask for help from without and within.
Why do I need a plan? The answer: to bring focus, clarity, and boundaries.
- Focus-What overall direction do I want my life to go?
- Clarity-Know what specific path to take.
- Boundaries-Sets parameters for decision-making. If I know what I stand for, I can apply the principles to problem-solving.
Then, I asked myself three questions:
- Who am I?
- Who am I becoming?
- What is my purpose?
At this point, I closed my eyes and once more envisioned what my future might look like. I played a movie in my mind. I used my imagination to write the script of my future.
I saw myself signing autographs for my NYT bestselling book, being published in numerous publications, and building a substantial, thriving community on social media. (Notice how I worked backward).
Take your time on the answers or write the first thoughts you have. Do what is most comfortable for you and then put it away.
I am learning how to use spreadsheets on Excel, however, at my age, I tend to be very analog. That does not stop me from casting a vision for my life, though, I do it for only five years at a time. Every threshold I cross is a celebration.
For all intents and purposes, I created my vision on a poster board.
- Go back to your questions and your movie. Write out your vision. For example, my vision statement reads:
To encourage, inspire, and empower others to live fulfilled lives…one word or deed at a time.
- Start in the upper right-hand corner and write the vision statement in pencil. You will probably have to revise it until it is complete.
One fact is significant; your vision statement is static. It does not change. It is the high mark to which we aspire. Once this part is completed, we can move on.
Now, our mission statement is one specific road we travel to reach our vision. It is fluid, and it can change. You can have more than one mission statement. So far, I have two — one for my writing life and one for my inspirational life.
Or you can have a business mission statement and a personal mission statement. It is yours, and you have the power to create it. Let’s consider all the information we have talked about and take it a step further.
We ask three more questions:
- Who do you want to serve?
- Why do you want to serve?
- How do you want to serve?
The answers can be as simple or complex as you want to make them.
For example, someone may want to help writers market their articles. Her statement may read, I want to help overwhelmed writers market their articles to on-line publications. All three questions are answered within the body of this one sentence, which becomes her mission statement.
A vision is something we live to. A mission is something we live from. Even though we are working backward, we are creating upward momentum.
We are ready for the third section of our outline — goals. They have to be clear, specific statements on how to achieve your mission statement. Your goals also need to have time constraints. You give yourself a time frame to accomplish your goal.
Let’s revisit our mission about overwhelmed writers. You might write the first goal as:
- By the end of the week, I will find ten publications that accept new writers.
You are only limited by your creativity and imagination. Also, in my research, I found that each mission statement should have three goals.
Now on to our tasks.
The last section of the outline is the tasks to achieve our goals and is the most crucial part. This is where we do the research, perform the action, etc. One task might be:
- I will review the submission guidelines for these publications.
Our writer can now fulfill her mission. You fill in the blanks. This is your plan. Go for it.
You might also wonder why I use three repeatedly throughout the plan.
The Rule of Three
It is because of the Rule of Three. This is a concept that can be traced back to Aristotle’s theories of time, place, and action. In physics, Newton developed the "Three Laws of Thermodynamics."
For example, Western religion believes in the concept of the Trinity. Even as children, we learn in threes — ABC, 123. It is everywhere, and we even abbreviate in three: NFL, DEA, ADA.
In writing, we communicate effectively using the 3-Act Structure of beginning, middle, and end. Our brain remembers patterns, and the easiest to remember is the smallest number pattern of three.
As you can see, this plan enables you to conceive and envision your life. The methodology gives you the freedom to play and plan. You are empowered to capture your future and hold it in the present.