Mountain Stream Coaching in words with M stylized as mountains and S stylized as stream
Chalk board question mark with words for passion, purpose, why, mission, and vision

Stage Four in the seven-stage Life Design process shifts from understanding our current state to envisioning our future state. This is when we craft personal purpose and/or why, mission, and vision statements. We will also further validate the values and principles defined in the previous stage’s Who Am I?

I view long-term goals as synonymous with vision. Some prefer using the term ‘goals’ because it sounds more concrete and accessible. Other people like ‘vision’ as it can sound more inspiring.

Refer to Deciphering Life Design: A Glossary of Key Terms for definitions of all the terms above.

Crafting a coherent set of personal statements is an iterative process.

BetterHelp suggests that vision has to be outlined first because you can’t plan a trip until you’ve chosen the destination.

Recently, David Peralta on the Multifaceted Masculinity podcast said something similar:

The first step is we have to create a vision. We have to have a crystal-clear vision for our life. We have to have an aim. We have to connect to what it is that we want to create in this life. That's the very first step because once we get that clarity, we now have a clear destination...that we can move towards.

Although I appreciate this logic, I have had more success iterating among the statements more or less simultaneously. Vision informs purpose and mission, and purpose informs mission and vision.

For vision statements, you’ll need to pick a timeframe or timeframes. As someone in his 60s, I like to craft three visions. A near-term vision for what I envision one or two years from now, a medium-term vision for five years from now, and a long-term vision for ten+ years from now. Someone that is younger might add a fourth timeframe for “on my death bed.”

Your vision should be written in the present tense. [Use "I am" or "I have", do not use "I will"] "My vision is to spend more time with my family" is not as strong as a vision that reads, "I am a family man." By stating your vision in the present tense, your subconscious mind will begin to embrace your vision, and you will be more likely to take action that supports this vision and brings it into reality.

Your vision should be positive, inspiring, and personal.

(Source: Your Life By Design, by Curtis R. Estes)

The remainder of this article suggests one way to get started with crafting your personal statements, to ask yourself powerful questions.

Powerful Questions

The answers to the following questions inform our personal statements. The questions below are loosely categorized by the personal statement they most strongly support. Sometimes this is fairly arbitrary.

After answering all the questions that you are drawn to, you’ll have a significant collection of raw material to pull from to craft your three or four personal statements (four if you create both a purpose and a why.) Especially for your vision, some of the content may flow almost directly into personal statements. Most of the content will merely inform. 

You may want to look for themes and circle words that most stand out as you review and reflect on your answers.  

Purpose and Why (What motivates me?)

  1. What is God’s (or other deity) will for my life?
  2. Why do I matter?
  3. What was I born to do? Who am I meant to be? 
  4. What do I get up in the morning for? 
  5. What am I most passionate about? What lights me up? What makes my heart sing?
  6. When I was a kid, what did I want to be when I grew up? 
  7. What were my favorite activities as a child?
  8. Where have I already found real purpose in living?
  9. When am I most motivated? When do I feel most energized? When do I feel most alive? What gives me energy?
  10. What feels natural and effortless? What activities most easily lead me into flow?
  11. What have been the most satisfying, fulfilling, and meaningful experiences in my life so far?
  12. What are my hobbies, either now or in the past?
  13. What books, music, art, or movies most inspire me?
  14. What relationships or people have influenced me the most? How so? 
  15. What has my whole life prepared me to do?
  16. What are my greatest accomplishments?
  17. What impact do I wish to have on the world? How do I wish to make a difference in the world? How do I want to make the world a better place?
  18. What are my biggest setbacks or failures in life? What did I learn and how might I share that learning with others?
  19. What pain injustice or unhappiness have I experienced or witnessed that I just can’t tolerate?
  20. What societal problems do I deeply care about?
  21. What would I do if nobody would know about it?
  22. What am I curious about?
  23. What section of a bookstore am I most drawn to browse?
  24. What are my deepest held beliefs across all areas of my life?
  25. What matters most in my life? What is truly important?
  26. What am I willing to sacrifice for?
  27. Why do I want what I want?
  28. Where do I feel the strongest sense of belonging? What communities are my people?
  29. Which famous people most inspire me? Who are my heroes and heroines? What do I see as their life purpose or mission?

Mission (How will I get there?)

  1. Who do I want to help and serve?
  2. How do I want to share my time, talent, and resources?
  3. What problems can I solve for others? What problems have I solved for myself that I can solve for others?
  4. What do I want to be known for?
  5. What are my deepest priorities?
  6. How can I best live my values? How do these values shape my decisions and actions?
  7. What are the principles I wish to live by?
  8. How can I best use my strengths? What am I good at?
  9. What do personality assessments suggest about my mission?
  10. What three things do I most enjoy at work?
  11. What roles and responsibilities do I enjoy most? Of all the roles I’ve been in, which ones were the best fit for me? Why?
  12. What would I do if I had unlimited time, resources, and money? 
  13. What do I really love doing? What am I willing to do for free?
  14. What would I do if I won the Powerball lottery?
  15. What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
  16. What would I do if I weren’t afraid of judgment or embarrassment?

Vision (Where am I going?)

  1. What do I want most in life? What is my heart’s desire? What do I dream of doing?
  2. What do I need that is currently missing from my life?
  3. How do I define personal and professional success?
  4. What does the best version of myself look like? How has my identity shifted from today?
  5. What kind of spouse, parent, colleague, etc. do I want to be?
  6. What enduring relationships do I want in my life? 
  7. What do I want my personal brand to be?
  8. What has my life experience told me already about my destiny? Am I okay with that? How would I like to adjust my trajectory?
  9. What am I being told I “Should” do? (typically, this is what not to include in your personal vision)
  10. Where do I most often procrastinate? How could I eliminate that from my life?
  11. How can I express my creativity more boldly?
  12. What obstacles should I expect to encounter? If I had a magic wand, how would I make these obstacles disappear?
  13. Name three things that would be part of my ideal job.
  14. Is my work a job, a career, or a calling? If not already a calling, what would it take to elevate to a calling? What would that calling be?
  15. What type of environment do I thrive in? 
  16. What kind of lifestyle do I want?
  17. What does my ideal day, week, and month look and feel like? What do I do? Where do I live? Who am I with? Etc.
  18. What type of people do I enjoy being around?
  19. How can I create more happiness and joy in my life?
  20. What do I want to learn more about? How do I want to grow personally, professionally, and spiritually?
  21. What characteristics do I see in others that I want to model?
  22. What do I intend to do before I die?
  23. What would I do if I only had one year to live?
  24. What is the legacy that I wish to leave behind when I die?
  25. How would I like to be remembered when I die?
  26. If I were to die today, what would be my biggest regret?

The next article in this series-within-a-series introduces exercises for creating personal statements and a couple of complementary frameworks.

Over To You

Have I missed any of your favorite questions? What questions have been most helpful in your work to create personal purpose, mission, and vision statements?

NOTE: Links to books are Amazon affiliate links, for which I receive a small commission on any purchases.

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