This is a tactic I’ve adopted from Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich.” He talks a lot about the importance of writing down what it is you are ultimately working towards, and then repeating it out loud to yourself every morning and every night.
It might sound silly, but try it for a month and watch what happens. It firmly instills in your subconscious what you’re working on and helps attract into your life what you need to make that vision a reality.
Write an Attention Charter
An attention charter is a document that lists the general reasons that you’ll allow for someone or something to lay claim to your time and attention. For each reason, it then describes under what conditions and for what quantities you’ll permit this commitment.
- You might decide that for you to consider attending a conference it must have at least three speakers whose topic really interests you, and then, among the conferences that meet this criteria, enforce a hard cap on attending no more than two per year.
- You might decide that you’ll only allow one call per month with someone you don’t know.
You might decide that you can make one major change to the technologies you use (apps, gadgets, websites) per season.
- You might decide to fix in advance the slots you’re available for work meetings (and, by doing so, solidify all the other times as those when you’ll be working deeply), and then when a request comes in from a colleague or collaborator you don’t want to reject, you can reply: “sure, here’s all the times I’m available this month: pick one.”
Most people in this world drift aimlessly through life. They have no vision, no purpose and sometimes do not even know what they value the most. It is no wonder that they never achieve anything and are never happy. Instead of working on improving themselves, they spend most of their time complaining. That’s no way to go through life.
If you want to be a success, if you want to be happy, then you need a clear direction in life. You need to have a vision of yourself and a clear plan on how to achieve that vision. This includes setting clear goals and then working hard in order to achieve them.
The first thing to do in any process of self-improvement is drafting a vision of where you want to be. The purpose of this vision is to give you a clear direction on where you are going.
In order to draft a good vision, you need to do some preliminary work beforehand. This involves a lot of visualizing and brainstorming. This initial exercise should result in a collection of different elements that will serve as input for your final vision statement. The better you do your preparatory work, the better your final vision statement will be.
Below I outline some preliminary work that you can do in order to better refine your vision. Feel free to pick which of this you do and which you don’t do. If you already have a good idea of where you want to be, you can skip many of the preliminary steps and just focus on a few key steps to help you hammer down the key elements you want to cover.
In any process of change, it is good practice to start by analyzing the present situation. Take a good, hard look at yourself and ask yourself these questions: What do you do, why do you do those things, what is your internal make-up? A good tool to use in order to get a deeper understanding of your internal makeup are NLP meta-programs. These are often at the root of your behavior and drive the choices that you make. Therefore you can use them to understand yourself on a more profound level.
Your behavior often also depends on a particular situation. You might behave differently at home or at work and each of these situations usually has a different need. Thereby your goals might differ based on the role you play. You should create a list of the roles that you play in life (for example individually, at home or in your job). This list will then serve as input later on when you are looking at your future self.
Before writing down your vision statement, you need to have a clear idea of where you are at the present moment. To help you out with this, you can create three further short lists: one listing your values, one listing your strengths and one listing your weaknesses. These can give you a better idea on what things are important to you and what things you can and cannot do.
Once you have this present state down, then you can move onto defining where you want to be and your ideal future state.
To help with the visualization of your future self, you should ask yourself some basic questions. If all things turned out perfectly, who do you want to be, what to you want to be able to do, what do you want to look like? You need to ruminate long and hard on what you really want out of life.
What things do you want to change about yourself? Why do you want to change them? You can use the list of roles that you created before and link them with specific needs that you have in each role. These needs then can serve as an indication of the things that you can change about yourself in order to perform the role better.
A good way of further refining your ideal future state is to look at the positive qualities of the people you admire. Make a list of people you admire and want to be like and then create short lists of the qualities that you admire about them.
All these little preliminary exercises should provide insights into who you are and what you want to be like. They should provide you with enough material to be able to come up with a very good vision of your future self.
Once you have the present and future states down, you need to link them and think of ways to bridge the gap. How do you go from the present AS IS state to the future TO BE state? Jot down some potential strategies and think about how realistic they are.
All these things will then be reflected in your vision statement. You will proceed in a top down fashion in order to draft it:
1) Vision Statement
- create a list of goals to fulfill that vision
- pick the top two or three goals and make them into your mission
2) Mission Statement
- elicit goals for that mission (list of more detailed goals)
3) List of Benefits
4) Values Statement
5) List of Principles
6) List of Potential Obstacles
Drafting Your Vision Statement
Now that you have done the preliminary work, you can start writing the actual vision statement itself.
The main purpose of the vision is to guide you and inspire you, and so in that way it serves as the ultimate source of motivation. The vision comes from a broad perspective and incorporates different areas of life: mind, body, spirit, emotions, work, play and other areas. The statement should be short, consisting of a few sentences and written in the present tense. When reading it, you should immediately be able to visualize where you are going. The vision should excite you and push you to go through your routine daily.
After you have this vision statement, you can move onto the next phase. You need to think hard and make a list of the goals that you need to achieve in order to fulfil that ultimate vision. Then you should rank these goals according to priority. Once you have this ranking, take the first two or three goals and make them into your mission.
Keep the other goals as well, but hide them until the time when you feel that you have advanced far enough in your top priority goals. Once you have accomplished your top goals or are close to accomplishing them, then you can also start working on the other goals. It’s not a good practice to work on too many goals at once, especially if you are just starting out and haven’t yet developed a strong willpower.
Drafting Your Mission Statement
When you have selected your top two or three goals, you can go about drafting your mission statement. The difference between a vision and a mission, is that the vision is more long-term and abstract, while the mission is more shorter-term and consists of a series of steps that need to be done in order to achieve the overall vision.
Here are some guidelines for drafting a mission statement:
- keep it brief
- keep it clear and simple
- describe what you want to focus on
- the statement should be positive (describe what you want to do)
- you need to focus on actions and habits (mission statements are always active)
- keep the benefits in mind when drafting the statement
Once you write your mission statement, you should further elicit more detailed goals that you will need to achieve in order to accomplish that mission. Remember that they need to reflect the SMART criteria (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-related).
In this phase, you can even come up with a short, rough action plan. The action plan can be a chart where you first list the area of your specific goal (for example mind, body, spirit), then you write the specific goal itself (for example gain 5 kg of lean muscle), the deadline for that goal, some specific action points that you will do (for example go to the gym 3 times a week), as well as some potential obstacles or other things that can affect that specific goal.
Reflecting On The Benefits, Obstacles And Your Values
The vision and mission statements should be tied to benefits that you will get once you accomplish what you set out to accomplish. What will having achieved your goals allow you to do? This is very important for keeping yourself motivated, as having a list of benefits in front of you at all times, will remind you of why you are doing what you are doing.
After the benefits, you should come up with a short list of values that you hold dear. Who are you and what do you value most? You can complement this with a list of principles that you guide yourself with in going through life.
Finally, you also always need to keep in mind the fact that life is not a straightforward path, but there are many obstacles and problems that you might encounter on your journey. It is a good practice to try to create a list of potential obstacles that you might encounter and think about how you can overcome them. If you think about this beforehand, you will not be taken back once something happens that block your progress.
However if you don’t want to have those obstacles (it’s good practice to link obstacles to potential actions to overcome them) constantly on your mind, you can hide that piece of information somewhere and only have the other parts of the vision visible. Do whatever works best for you.
The strategies above are just a guideline to help you. You don’t have to follow every step, but instead should pick and choose whatever fits you best. The beauty of all this, is that you can revise any part of the procedure at any time. Your vision should remain relatively stable, but circumstances and interests change and your goals can change with them, so your process of individual self-development should be agile and reflect your evolution.
Here is my personal vision statement:
I am a thoughtful, charismatic and refined man, who has the ability to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. I can protect myself and help my loved ones whenever they are in need. I have a wide breadth of knowledge in many areas and very deep specialist knowledge in a few key select areas. I can perform great feats of strength and ability. Women are naturally attracted to me. I have a good mind in a healthy body. I am a true Renaissance Man.
By the summer of 2016: I have gained lean muscle and now weigh 95kg with 8% body fat. I am at C2 in French, and B2 in Dutch and Polish. I have grown as a person, learned about many new things and updated my blog regularly, which has also helped other people grow as people in the process.
List of Benefits:
understand the world better
have the ability to communicate with different people
be more persuasive
feel more confident
be able to protect myself and others
have the ability to perform better at different sports
have women be naturally attracted to me
List of Principles:
1) Family comes first.
2) I am willing to work hard.
3) I will need to change some of my internal make-up and become more assertive.
2) Too much work in other areas
3) Sickness (potential short-term obstacle)
4) Injury (potential long-term obstacle)
5) Not finishing things up (I have a tendency to start things and not go all the way through)
Personal Vision Tool #1
|Things I Really Enjoy Doing||What Brings Me Happiness/Joy||The Two Best Moments of My Past Week||Three Things I’d Do If I Won the Lottery|
|Issues or Causes I Care Deeply About||My Most Important Values (Circle)||Things I Can Do at the Good-to-Excellent Level||What I’d Like to Stop Doing or Do as Little as Possible|
Being fit and healthy
Having a nice home and belongings
Leaving the world a better place
Learning and improving myself
Making others’ lives easier or more pleasant
Enjoying my family
|Tool #2: Personal Vision Statement|
|1. Based on my personal research, these are the main things that motivate me/bring me joy and satisfaction:
|2. My greatest strengths/abilities/traits/things I do best:
|3. At least two things I can start doing/do more often that use my strengths and bring me joy:
|4. This is my Personal Vision Statement for myself (in 50 words or less):
“Values: ‘Concepts, principles, or standards that drive one’s decisions and actions.’ Examples of values are honesty, persistence, dependability, self-sufficiency, and faith.”
A vision statement: ‘A statement of three or four sentences describing a desired future – not a predicted future.’ Here is an example of a vision statement (stated as if the vision has already been achieved, so that it is positive and powerful): ‘I am a person who is peaceful and an example to others of that peace, which comes from faith in God. I am considered to be an inspirational teacher of great integrity. I lead a simple life style that includes plenty of time for myself, my family, and my friends as well as service to others.’
A mission statement: ‘A succinct, easy-to-remember statement that provides direction for one’s life.’ Here is an example of a very short mission statement developed from the sample vision statement quoted above: ‘I am committed to living in accordance with my faith in God, maintaining a happy marriage, and being a loving and supportive parent. In my professional life, I seek to empower high school students by providing quality teaching while adhering to my religious principles. I want to live a simple life style.’ Note that a mission statement may be lengthier if desired, but brevity is important.
Step 1: Answer the following questions as honestly as you can.
- What personal qualities do you most want to emphasize in yourself?
- How can you use and display these qualities in a working environment?
- What are the most important values you want to express at work?
Step 2: Visualize yourself five years from now.
- Imagine that you are managing and leading the project of your dreams. Envision that everything is exactly the way you want it to be: the type of project you are running, the industry it is in, its size and complexity, the people involved, and your own capabilities as a project manager and leader. Imagine that you are every bit as successful as you want to be. Feel it and see it.
- Keep imagining yourself in the future, and be as specific as possible in your observations. Where exactly are you? Who is your client? What are you doing? Who are you interfacing with? What does the project look like? How big is it? How are you feeling? Why do you want to be exactly where you are? What is the bigger impact you are having?
- Draw a picture of yourself and your surroundings five years from now. Draw the elements you see, feel, and hear. Use as many colors as you want and be as detailed as possible.
Step 3: Sum up your vision and mission.
- Write to the following questions: How can you sum up your vision and mission as a project manager? What are the things you ultimately want to achieve? Who do you want to be? What do you want to do? What is the impact you would like to have and how would you like to be perceived?
- What will need to happen in order for you to feel proud of your progress as a project manager in five years’ time?
Use these questions to guide your thoughts.
- What are the ten things you most enjoy doing? Be honest. These are the ten things without which your weeks, months, and years would feel incomplete.
- What three things must you do every single day to feel fulfilled in your work?
- What are your five-six most important values?
- Your life has a number of important facets or dimensions, all of which deserve some attention in your personal vision statement. Write one important goal for each of them: physical, spiritual, work or career, family, social relationships, financial security, mental improvement and attention, and fun.
- If you never had to work another day in your life, how would you spend your time instead of working?
- When your life is ending, what will you regret not doing, seeing, or achieving?
- What strengths have other people commented on about you and your accomplishments? What strengths do you see in yourself?
- What weaknesses have other people commented on about you and what do you believe are your weaknesses?
Craft Your Personal Vision Statement
Once you have thoughtfully prepared answers to these questions and others that you identify, you are ready to craft a personal vision statement. Write in first person and make statements about the future you hope to achieve.
Write the statements as if you are already making them happen in your life. Some experts recommend 50 words or less, but I would rather see you fully articulate the vision you want for your life and your future, than be limited by word count.
Motivational speaker and writer, Brian Tracy, states that you generally accomplish your written goals, dreams, plans, and vision. Writing them down lends power and commitment to their accomplishment.
Keep in mind that your personal vision statement can also change over time, depending upon what is happening in your life. You will be amazed, however, at how many components remain consistent over time. I first articulated this vision for my life in 1984; this personal vision statement guides my life.
Eliciting Your Values
There’s no hard rule for how long your list should be, but I usually prefer a list in the range of 10-15 values. If you have more than this, consider cutting out the marginal values that just barely made your list, or combine multiple values that are nearly identical on a single line, like achievement/accomplishment.
Write out your goals. Decide which ones are truly most important to you. Prioritize them. And in this case it’s fine if you have more than 10-15. More than 100 is even OK; it will just take longer to prioritize.
These goals represent the experiences that you feel are part of the “best” life you could live. I don’t mean a good life or even a great life – I mean the best life.
Using Your Values to Make Decisions
I found it easiest to clarify and then prioritize my values first, and then I used that list to help craft my life purpose statement. It took hours to clarify my values list, but once that was done, it took less than 30 minutes to come up with the new purpose statement.
global life values
Here’s what to do:
- Take out a blank sheet of paper or open up a word processor where you can type (I prefer the latter because it’s faster).
- Write at the top, “What is my true purpose in life?”
- Write an answer (any answer) that pops into your head. It doesn’t have to be a complete sentence. A short phrase is fine.
- Repeat step 3 until you write the answer that makes you cry. This is your purpose.
global life values
There are 3 main questions that I will answer in this Integrity Report.
- What are the core values that drive my life and work?
- How am I living and working with integrity right now?
- How can I set a higher standard in the future?
Begin writing your manifesto by making a list of the areas that you want to address. For example, you could make a list of the most important people in your life and write down how you intend to behave when it comes to each of them. You can also decide to include areas such as the following:
- Dealing with disappointment and hardships.
- Dealing with failures and mistakes.
- Dealing with opportunities and risk taking.
- Daily interaction with others (waiters, cashiers, neighbors, and so on).
- Choosing your attitude.
- Your general approach toward life.
- How you’ll treat your body.
- How you’ll spend your money.
- How you’ll spend your time.
In addition, you can create a manifesto by asking yourself questions such as the following:
- What do I stand for?
- What am I willing to die for?
- What are my strongest beliefs?
- How do I want to live my life?
- How do I choose to define myself?
- What changes do I need to make so that I can live my best life?
- What words do I want to live my life by?
Here are five general guidelines for writing your manifesto:
- Make it uplifting.
- Use strong language (don’t be wishy-washy).
- It can be as short or as long as you like (but don’t make it so long that you can’t read it every day).
- Write it in the present tense.
- Keep it positive.
My Personal Manifesto
Below you’ll find the 26 points that make up my personal manifesto.
1. I cultivate peace of mind. I know that I can change the way that I feel at any moment, simply by changing my thoughts.
“Peace come from within. Do not seek it without.” – Buddha
2. I treat myself like someone I love and respect.
“Love Thyself. First you must shine with positive, high-spirited vibrations, and be full of love. In order to do that, I think it’s important to love, thank, and respect yourself.” – Masaru Emoto, in Love Thyself, The Message from Water III
3. I trust myself and listen to my inner voice.
“Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
4. I meet each day with reverence for the opportunities that it contains.
“This bright, new day… complete with 24 hours of opportunities, choices, and attitudes… a perfectly matched set of 1440 minutes. This unique gift, this one day, cannot be exchanged, replaced or refunded. Handle with care. Make the most of it. There is only one to a customer.” – Author Unknown
5. I improve myself every day in some way, whether it’s by dropping a negative belief, learning a new word, or adding to my knowledge of the world.
“I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.”– Abraham Lincoln
6. I don’t take things personally. I know that what others say and do is a projection of their own reality; it has nothing to do with me.
“Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.” – Dennis Wholey
7. I’m independent of the good opinion of others.
“The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell truth that is in us . . . the divine flood of light and life no longer flow into our souls.” – Elizabeth Cady Stanton
8. I give myself permission to be myself. I’m authentic. I live life in my own way.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”– Ralph Waldo Emerson
9. I talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person I meet.
“There are persons so radiant, so genial, so kind, so pleasure-bearing, that you instinctively feel in their presence that they do you good, whose coming into a room is like the bringing of a lamp there.” — Henry Ward Beecher
10. I serve goodness every day with acts of courtesy and kindness.
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” — The Dalai Lama
11. I make my home my sacred space.
“Home interprets heaven.” – Charles Henry Parkhurst
12. I live in a constant state of gratitude for everything that has been given me.
“Gratitude should not be just a reaction to getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good, even in unpleasant situations. Start bringing gratitude to your experiences, instead of waiting for a positive experience in order to feel grateful.” — Marelisa Fábrega
13. I celebrate life every day by making happiness and play a priority.
“A philosophy of life: I’m an adventurer, looking for treasure.”– Paolo Coehlo
14. I focus on what has gone right in my life, instead of placing my attention on those things that have not gone the way I wanted them to.
“Write the bad things that are done to you in sand, but write the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble.” – Arabic proverb
15. I take financial control of my life. I spend my money mindfully and buy only what I truly need and what I truly love. I put my money to work for me.
“Let money work for you, and you have the most devoted servant in the world . . . it works night and day, and in wet or dry weather.”– P.T. Barnum
16. I treat my time like the precious commodity that it is.
“When you invest in something you expend resources, but you do so with an expectation of getting a good return on your investment (ROI). Investing your time means that you engage in activities which are calculated to bring you meaningful rewards.” – Marelisa Fábrega
17. I monitor my energy exchanges and do more of the things that give me energy and less of the things that take it away.
“The ultimate measure of our lives is . . . how much energy we invest in the time that we have.” – Tony Schwartz
18. I think “Yes” instead of “No”. I imagine “Yes” instead of “No”. I remain open to trying new things. I constantly stretch out a little further from my comfort zone.
“I’m continually trying to make choices that put me against my own comfort zone. As long as you’re uncomfortable, it means you’re growing.” – Ashton Kutcher
19. I’m the creator of my life. As creator, I decide what I want to create, I plan how I’m going to create it, and I take the necessary steps to create it.
“You can achieve anything you want in life if you have the courage to dream it, the intelligence to make a realistic plan, and the will to see that plan through to the end.” — Sydney A. Friedman
20. I focus on those things which are within my control, and act within my sphere of influence.
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr
21. I create opportunities; I don’t wait for opportunities to find me.
“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.” – Bruce Lee
22. I see mistakes as feedback; I adjust my aim, and I try again.
“Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.” — Charles F. Kettering
23. I do not misuse my imagination by worrying.
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” ― Corrie Ten Boom
24. In the pursuit of my goals, I act with courage.
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” ― Mark Twain
25. I strive to make the most of my talents, to be of service, to create value, and to give back to the world.
“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.” – Leo Buscaglia
26. I persevere until I reach my goals, in spite of any obstacles or setbacks.
“The mighty oak was once a little nut that stood its ground.” — Unknown
How To Write Your Personal Manifesto
- Write out exactly what you want to do. Be very specific. Write out your overall plan, the exact amount of money you want to make, the girl you want to date, the band you want to start or whatever the dream is you want to accomplish. Dream big and don’t worry about if it’s possible or not.
- Write what you’re willing to do to get it. In my example, I wrote that I was willing to write articles eight hours a day, every day of the week until I had created enough content to start bringing in the money I wanted. That meant sacrificing my musical aspirations and social life at the time. Remember, nothing comes easy – so write down exactly what you’re willing to do – what you’re willing to sacrifice to get what you want.
- Write out all the steps it will take to get there. Every accomplishment is preceded by a journey. And every journey is made up of steps. Write out each step that will be required for you to go from where you are now, to where you want to be. Some say it helps to work backwards. Start by envisioning the goal is already accomplished. Then retrace everything you did to get there and how long each step took.
- Give each goal and step a timeline. I planned out for the next 10 years. But I also planned out timelines for each of the smaller goals along the way. I would write for 8 hours a day, 6 days a week for example, to create enough content to get my sites ranked in search engines and making money. I set a daily goal of three articles per day and a six month goal to be making X amount of dollars with Y number of sites using the articles that I wrote.
- Save the document. Save the document to a folder somewhere and don’t lose it. You only want to do this once.
- Get to work. Every day try to do something that will advance you toward your goal. My current system is to do One Thing per day. I use Trello as my to-do list. You can use a pen and paper, a to-do list app, Evernote or just a good old Word document (like I did).
Think and Grow Rich Version Here is the version from Think and Grow Rich. You can use this as an alternative to my template if you wish. 1. First. Fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire. It is not sufficient merely to say “I want plenty of money.” Be definite as to the amount. 2. Second. Determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the money you desire. (There is no such reality as “something for nothing.”) 3. Third. Establish a definite date when you intend to possess the money you desire. 4. Fourth. Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action. 5. Fifth. Write out a clear, concise statement of the amount of money you intend to acquire, name the time limit for its acquisition, state what you intend to give in return for the money, and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to accumulate it. 6. Sixth. Read your written statement aloud, twice daily, once just before retiring at night, and once after arising in the morning. AS YOU READ, SEE AND FEEL AND BELIEVE YOURSELF ALREADY IN POSSESSION OF THE MONE