"No compass comes with this life, just eyes. So to map it out, you must look inside. Sure books can guide you, but your heart defines you" - JAY Z
From birth, we’ve all had ambitious, robust, and even unrealistic dreams for our lives. We’ve internalized, visualized, and constructed circumstances that are vastly different from the current environment. Dreaming is a wonderful pastime, but as we enter and become a mainstay in the “real world” there has to be action behind every great thought and idea. A large part of adulting is facing reality and taking charge of our lives. Unfortunately, in "taking charge", we often forget about those dreams that seem too grand or unrealistic because of the demands of society to fit into a certain mold. But I have some great news --- dreams can become a vision which can translate into behaviors by identifying your vision, mission, and values.
My favorite question to ask an individual is “If you could do anything in the world, what would you do?” I ask this question because it removes the limitations that one has put on themselves and potential. It allows one to focus on aspirations as it relates to their passion versus the box that money and education (or lack thereof) might force people into. Answer this question to determine your actual vision.
A mission statement is different in that it asks you to determine what you currently do to support the vision (i.e. your passion). If you are not doing anything yet, it encourages you to start setting goals to guide decisions moving forward. How does your personal brand (learn more here). support your vision? This is your mission statement.
Core values determine how you would behave across situations from the best of times to the worst of times. It’s important to define these because it is the “why” behind every great decision.
Exercise: Take a sheet of paper and write down 10 tangible or non-tangible things you value. You could value family, friends, faith, financial stability, or even your professional network. Then cross out to things that you could live without because they are not as important as the others. Now, cross out three more items. You should have five values left which can symbolize your core values. You’ll begin to see a theme with the vision, mission, and values.
Now is the fun part. What can you actually do to achieve your vision, while living your mission, and staying true to your values? Objectives are the daily behaviors that turn into habits that allow you to grow into the person you aspire to become.
Another question I love to ask is “what is the first thing you do every morning?” and “what is the last thing you do before falling asleep”?. Assessing these two pivotal time each day can drastically change your direction. It can be as simple as reading a book, volunteering once a month, or reaching out to a potential mentor. Each step towards your personal and professional development is a step in the right direction (your vision).
Vision: Save the World
Mission: Using education and mentoring, I seek to improve the quality of life of youth
Values: Family, Faith, Education, Financial Stability, and Love
- Sign up for volunteer orientation at local youth organization and allocate 2 hours per month
- Build relationships with local nonprofits and corporations by attending at least one networking event per month
- Research achievement and skills gap in local school district (one hour before falling asleep)
Vision: Eliminate Health Disparities
Mission: As a medical professional, I plan to educate my patients and their families to address health disparities and improve health literacy
Values: Family, Medicine, Friends, Freedom, and Religion
- Make efforts to visit grocery stores beyond Whole Foods to find healthy foods to recommend to your patients who may not have access to organic products
- Volunteer at health fairs and schools in underserved areas to determine the needs of the community
- Read the local newspaper to become well versed in the issues affecting the community from a political, economic, and cultural perspective