Don't Let the Mission Statement Stop You
how important is it?
If you’ve had any experience with committees or corporations, you may have an immediate negative reaction to the word “vision.” The idea conjures up long, boring meetings in which a Vision (or sometimes Mission) Statement is debated, hashed out, carefully worded, eventually to be written in fancy script on the wall somewhere or incorporated into a tagline, and then promptly forgotten by everyone who made such an effort to craft it. A waste of everyone’s time.
So when it comes to your personal vision, and your “committee of one,” is it even necessary? Can’t you just go with your gut, and forgo the painful process of coming up with your Vision?
Well, yes and no. You don’t necessarily need to put together the perfect string of words that succinctly sums up where you’re headed (although there’s nothing wrong with that!).
But you do need to think about your Vision.
### Dream? Vision? Is there a difference?
Here at Impactivity, we speak often of our “Dream” - it’s the first element of Impactivity and in a sense, it’s where everything starts. Understanding your own Dream - the purpose that you were gifted for and are being called into - is the first step in living a life that has lasting impact.
This Dream is a combination of all your gifts and strengths, your interests and passions, and the need that calls out to you from the world around you. It’s a sometimes-vague but always-inspiring feeling that stirs inside you to do something or to say something or even to create something that will change another person’s life in some way.
Your “Vision” is simply a concrete way that your Dream is living itself out in your life.
Perhaps your Dream is to eliminate homelessness in your city. If you could make that happen, you would feel that your life had been put to good use and you’d had the lasting impact you were meant to make. But how would you accomplish this Dream? Your Vision becomes the concrete way you will take steps. You are getting real about the Dream of wiping out homelessness by saying “I have a vision for ___, which I believe will make a real and tangible difference in getting people off the street.” A shelter, perhaps? A program that connects people with churches? With employers? Your own creativity kicks in to expand and deepen your Dream with a very practical and actionable Vision.
So your Dream is the calling, the place where your gifts, skills, and passion intersect with the need you see in the world around you, and the pull you feel to make a difference, whether it’s in the smaller local world around you - your family, friends, church, community - or the broader world in general. You feel this pull in your heart.
But if you’re ever going to make that difference, you must get concrete about the plan, with this deeper Why that is its foundation.
We are still talking about very high-level questions here. This Vision is not the strategies you will employ to get the work done, or the individual tactics and ideas that will become your everyday to-do list. This Vision is simply the specific way you will see your Dream realized.
### Don’t let your vision become an excuse
Many people get hung up on creating Vision Statements, creating roadblocks for themselves before they even started pursuing a Dream. They spend huge chunks of time perfecting the wording and making sure it will last for the rest of their Dream.
Others are so worried about the idea of creating a Vision that they let it become a burden, a chore to avoid, so it stops them from moving forward at all. They remain stuck Dreaming, and never move on to anything else (like the Designing and Igniting we talk about in Impactivity.)
Others perhaps are not so hesitant, and instead barrel forward with only a vague Dream, with no concrete Vision, jumping from one strategy to the next, without any cohesive vision behind it all that guides their actions.
### You don’t need calligraphy
So it’s critical to have this Vision, this overarching idea of how you will pursue your Dream. But it doesn’t to be perfectly worded, beautifully lettered, and framed on your wall.
You simply need to have something that you can keep going back to, to analyze whether the strategies that you’re trying really fit into the Vision you’re working toward. A clearly-defined statement (even if it’s not eloquent) helps you move forward. It also helps other people move forward, whether it’s your team, your customers, or your audience. When others understand where you’re going, they are more likely to go along with you!
### It can change
One of the most paralyzing things about creating a Vision is the fear that you’ll get it wrong. We never want to fail, waste time, or look foolish, so we try to get everything perfect the first time out. Give up on that goal!
Your Vision is simply a tool. Tools change, our need for them changes, their helpfulness to get the job done changes. A Vision is not a rule. It does not control you. It’s not something to which you pledge your undying, lifelong commitment. It’s just a tool. Don’t be afraid to pick it up. Don’t be afraid to put it down. Another tool may come along that is a better fit.
Of course we don’t want to make changes too often, simply because our work is hard or we’re hitting roadblocks. Sometimes it’s not the Vision that is the problem, but our willingness to push through discomfort or hard work. So don’t jump ship simply because it’s getting hard. But sometimes, jumping ship is necessary!
Be committed to your Vision, but live open-handedly with it.
You’ll find that once you’ve spent just a bit of time getting more concrete about your Dream, the strategies and next steps begin to materialize before you, and it’s much easier to start down the next exciting path before you, into a life that has lasting impact.
your best next step
go more in-depth with this topic
Work through a handful of questions that will go a long way toward clarifying the Dream you're longing to pursueSee the Vision Worksheet
move forward on your adventure
Create a simple plan for your week--not too much or too little--that will help you make great progress.See The Weekly Planning Tool