Practice: Use these exercises to clarify your purpose
- Have you ever been frustrated in your attempts to get what you want?
- Do you want to know how great athletes and high achievers deliver THEIR best results?
- When you really look, does it seem like you’re not even sure what you want?
Define your purpose clearly
or lose control of your results
“The big question: what are we going to do for humanity? Serving others is the essence of leading at a higher level.”–Ken Blanchard
Since you’re here, you probably already read the background to this assignment. The key takeaway: it’s critical to know where you’re going. Either way, you’ll get somewhere, but without a clear purpose, it may not be where you want to be.
If you need more inspiration about this, or you just want the full experience, go read the first part of this assignment. Don’t worry, the page will open in a new tab, and there’s a link back also! You’ll have two ways to get back here.
If you’re already fired up, or you just want to start work:
Write A Vision Statement As A Foundation For Your Purpose
Instructions To Write Your Vision Statement(s):
Schedule an uninterrupted time and place where you can relax.
- Find a nice, comfortable place, and seating position.
- Maybe grab yourself a nice, warm (or cold), relaxing beverage.
- Choose your favorite writing tool(s).
Write for 10 minutes each, on the writing cues below. Follow these guidelines.
- Set a timer for 10 minutes. Start writing or typing after you start the timer and do not stop writing or typing until after the timer expires. Fingers keep moving even if you don’t know what to write. If you’re really stuck, write “I don’t know what to write” repeatedly until a new idea surfaces. I promise, it won’t take long (you’ll have a new idea before you’ve written the sentence TWICE).
- Spelling, grammar, and punctuation are not important. The un-edited output of your unconstrained imagination is what we want.
- Write from YOUR point of view and YOUR ideas, not what “they’ve” told you or you believe someone else wants to hear. No judgments: just let it fly.
- This is an individual brainstorming activity, so “reality orientation” isn’t useful here (if you are interested, see more about this under “More Information” below). At this stage, think of yourself as if you are Leonardo DaVinci inventing the submarine or Dick Tracy using a smartphone, centuries, and decades before they were actually created. (for another description of this activity, and more sample questions, see this article: “The two-hour rule: taking time to think”, linked below.)
- Write vividly, in the present tense, as though you’re standing in the future, and what you’re describing already exists.
- The most important thing is your unconstrained thinking about what’s most desirable to you. Don’t edit, just write.
- Write in detail. Describe events, locations, people, places, activities. Use your senses. What do you see, hear, smell, feel, and taste?
- Finish whatever thoughts you still have in mind after the timer expires. Continue writing until you’ve exhausted ideas. You may write 10 minutes 2 seconds, or you may write 29 minutes. Exhaust your ideas.
- Have fun with it! Begin when you start the 10-minute timer. Do not stop writing or typing until the timer runs out or you run out of things to write, whichever comes LATER.
- You may want to take a break between each 10-minute writing block, as writing all in a row may be tiring. However, if you are up to it, you can write at any time, or in any sequence you like.
Cue 1: Your Perfect World
Write your vision statement to clearly define your purpose for a perfect world, from your point of view. How do different countries, societies, cultures, religions, and beliefs interact and manage the resources available to us?
Cue 2: What You Love
Describe your passions, the things you love, and things you’ve always wanted to do. Later, expand this into a Bucket List.
Cue 3: Your Purpose in Life
Write your vision statement to clearly define your purpose for your perfect life. This is you, standing in the future, having achieved your most important goal.
“Describe your perfect day, week, month, and annual cycle (your perfect lifestyle), as YOU define it. Think King or Queen for a day (for life).”
Now, think of a three-word (or fewer) brand promise for the difference you make, (such as, “World That Works” or “No More Toil” or “Everyone Gets Along” (but don’t get stuck on this goal — just consider it for a moment — you will improve it over time until you find the perfect label).
Cue 4: Your Perfect Job
Write your vision statement to clearly define your purpose for your perfect job.
“Describe your perfect workday, week, month, and annual cycle (your perfect work-life), as YOU define it. Think I’m the Boss, I love my job, I do what I want, and I make all the money I want.” This is you, standing in the future, working in the job you love.
Next, think of a three-word (or fewer) brand promise for the services or products you offer, (such as, “I paint houses” or “the ultimate analyst” or “writes cool code” (but don’t get stuck on this goal — just consider it for a moment — you will improve it over time until you find the perfect label).
Cue 5: Your Perfect Product
Write your vision statement to clearly define your purpose for your perfect product. Describe the result of a product you’d like to create, and the positive difference it will make in the world. Describe the world that will result as it is impacted by this product.
Again, think of a three-word (or fewer) brand promise, (for example, “finally thin forever” or “ultimate driving machine” or “strategic defense initiative” (but don’t get stuck on this goal — just consider it — you will perfect it over time).
- Describe in detail who would buy the product, who would use it, and who would pay for it.
- Where would the product be sold?
- Where would it be used?What would it look like?
- What resources (people and things) would be required to design it, manufacture it, distribute it, operate it, support it, and maintain it?
Cue 6: Your Perfect Career or Business
Write your vision statement to clearly define your purpose for your perfect business.
“Describe your perfect business operating model, business cycle, processes, employees, customers, marketing, manufacturing, operations, service delivery, and support models. Describe the typical customer’s workday, week, month, and annual cycle, as THEY define it. Think I’m the Boss, I love my job, I do what I want, my customers are thrilled, and I make all the money I want.”
One more time, think of a three-word (or fewer) brand promise for the core processes, services, or products delivered by the company, (such as, “we paint anything” or “high performance, delivered” or “the document company” (but don’t get stuck on this goal — just consider it for a moment).
Example Vision Statements
- Personal vision statements
- Non-profit vision statements (after much revision and editing)
- Corporate vision statements (after much revision and editing)
Review and Reinforce what You Learned
Answer these questions in writing, for the greatest benefit (download a printable form here):
- What did you learn in writing these that you didn’t know before?
- What did you learn in writing these that surprised you, or that you weren’t expecting?
Validate Your Results
You now have one or more statements, that will serve as a guide for your future practices (put these statements in your PowerBoard, notebook, drive).
For More Information
- The two-hour rule: taking time to think)
- Get unstuck: How to stop screwing yourself over | Mel Robbins | TEDxSF
- A twist on 3 Word Product Name: Steal This Running Legend’s Mental Strategies for Success, Lindsey Emery
- More About Vision Statements
- Peter Drucker’s Virtuous Firm Vs. ‘The World’s Dumbest Idea’
- More About How this practice works
- More questions to evoke your passion and purpose: 7 STRANGE QUESTIONS THAT HELP YOU FIND YOUR LIFE PURPOSE
- Deeper Dives on finding and living your passion, from LiveYourLegend.net: