Step I: VISION & INTENTS
This is the first step in the Pace & Pattern method, a subtractive as well as additive approach to goal-setting meant to help you simplify your schedule & to-do list by focusing on what matters most. This 5-step process is designed to empower you to choose a few meaningful goals that align with your values and integrate them into your real life. For more on the story behind Pace & Pattern click here!
Vision statements may seem like corporate jargon or fodder for TED talks. Can a few words really give meaningful direction to someone dealing with the complexities of real life? And even if it works for a company, how on earth could it help a person?
I’m very much not a corporate lady (I was a studio art major). But, I’ve actually found that setting a vision for myself – even a vision that can change in a season – helps me unbelievably in making more focused, intentional decisions with my time. It forces me out of passively reacting to things and into being proactive about my life. It’s where I start with a minimalist approach to goal-setting.*
My vision statement does a lot of heavy lifting. It integrates my purpose with my roles and core desires. It’s short and sweet (which means I can memorize it). It informs my everyday rhythms and routines. Writing a vision statement for the season is one of my favorite parts of setting goals.
The approach is simple, but be warned: it may take a week or so of reflection and rewording before you land on just the right one for where you are right now. You’re going need some scratch paper or notebook and this handy worksheet to get started.
Also, do whatever you can to make this as enjoyable a process as possible. That could mean working in a favorite coffee shop or on a blanket in the backyard, enjoying a favorite beverage of your choice (this iced-coffee recipereally gets my goal-setting juices flowing).
Step 1: Choose 5 main areas to focus on
I’ve learned over the years that it is incredibly important for me to set limits BEFORE I start. I am all about goal-setting (clearly) … and fresh starts and new notebooks and colorful pens and those fun-shaped paper clips and tiny post-its and pretty much all school supplies. I can always come up with a reason to need “just one more” of most good things, especially goals. Limiting the number of areas to which I’ll give attention helps me focus on those key elements when I set goals, which has been huge for me.
If our goals are a way to filter what’s most important and worth our time, shouldn’t they all connect to the top few things that really matter?
So here is the list I use (feel free to make yours fit your life):
Step 2: Define your purpose
Clarifying your purpose is the key step to casting your vision. I know, this is a big one! Feel free to take a few days to chew on this question before writing anything in ink. As a Christian, it’s hard for me to think of a better way of summing up my purpose better than the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “ to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” (Actually, whenever I try I end up writing that idea, only more awkwardly and with more words.) So for this year, I got lazy and just decided to steal this quote.
Example: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever
Step 3: Define your five main intents
Look at the most important areas of your life through the lens of your purpose. In light of that, what do you want each to be marked by this season?
This is where you can dream about what you want to see happen. It can be helpful to spend a little time reflecting and writing a vivid description of what you want your life to feel like this season. Then go back through and pick out key phrases or ideas that apply to different areas.
I try to limit myself to two-word statements. Again, the aim here is to be able to rattle off your vision statement without having to look at it. Also, research about the “fluency heuristic” has found that the more simply and eloquently an idea is expressed, the more likely people are to take it seriously and have it stick in their minds. I have a friend who tries to make her vision statement rhyme. Whatever technique works for you!
Spiritual: Know God
Relational: Love Tangibly
Vocational: Dig in
Practical: Be Proactive
Physical: Take Time
Step 4: Put it all together so it flows
I want to invest my time and energy towards:
And Embracing Health
And there you have it! A vision statement to guide you and remind you of what is most important!
Photo: Kelsey Goodrich
* I was greatly inspired by Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (specifically the chapter "Begin with the End in Mind") and Matt Perman's What's Best Next (especially the chapters "Finding Your Life Calling" and "Clarifying Your Roles"). These are wonderful resources if you are looking for more on writing a powerful vision statement!