The terms of purpose (your sense or purpose), vision, mission, and your essential values (values) are often used differently.
It is therefore helpful to describe and define these properly here for the context of your personal growth.
In the first step you can take a question word, what you can assign to each of these terms:
Essential values: How?
Your purpose represents your inner motivation to do or achieve your vision in life. The mission is the strategy that gets you there while living your essential values.
The meaning of your existence, or the purpose that you fulfill in this world, is your "purpose".
The question that one asks is always a "Why?":
Why do I want to achieve this?
Why should I do that?
Why am I motivated to work long-term on this problem?
It's about your inner motivation, which drives you to do or achieve something, and gets you going when things get tough.
It is this motivation that drives you to do something when you wake up in the morning.
Without this inner motivation you will not be able to achieve anything successful or sustainable in this world.
The reason is that anything significant that should bring about change and transformation takes an ongoing effort and persistence.
In my experience an ongoing effort can only be sustained for a short time by external motivation (for example in the form of money).
It is only your inner motivation that generates the necessary urge and strong will in you to hold onto your mission even under the most adverse circumstances.
This is about "what" you want to achieve and describes a future state (at least 5-10 years from now). This can be a new (also digital) product, a new service that you want to offer, or an object that you want to build (e.g. a house, company, association, ...).
As the vision represents a future state. Therefore when you write it down, put in a statement as if you already have achieved it.
“People are living well beyond the age of 120 years while enjoying strong health.”
A good way to think about is to envision your “castle” that you want to build. What does it look like? Describe its state, and use all your senses.
The vision arises from the depth of your consciousness. Your creativity shows you in great detail what it is that you want to create. You paint a picture of it in your mind through your thoughts.
Your purpose gives you the necessary context and motivation to look for a strategy (the “mission”), and also the necessary persistence and fuel to help you eventually achieve it.
Later it will be your mission, which through your deeds and your work will gradually implement this vision in our world.
Be aware of your ego!
When the vision is related to achieving major financial goals or enhancing your social status, then there is the danger that your ego has taken over, and generated a “distorted” vision of your future. Reflect and be aware of that danger.
Remember: A good and worthwhile vision usually has benefits for all of mankind and serves a greater good.
You have a vision.
How do you get there now? What you need is a good strategy.
Notice there are many possible strategies to choose from.
“Many roads lead to Rome”
Similar here - there are endless possibilities on how to get there. Some ways are shorter, possibly more effective than others, while others simply take longer.
The question word "how" already reveals that this is about the way.
There is no "right" or "wrong" way.
Each path brings you a little closer to your goal or throws you back a little further. The straight path is not always successful.
It is the path itself, your "journey", that makes your life interesting.
The goal is just there for guidance.
Surely one should keep an eye on the goal, but not fixate on it so that one forgets the present moment.
Remember: It is the journey that is more important than the goal.
Unfortunately many (business) leaders in today’s organization get too obsessed with the goal, which can be a major source of stress and frustration. Goals are helpful for guidance, so that you know where you are going. But it is the journey that matters, which always happens in the present moment.
Your Essential Values
Here, too, there is a "how" question that helps you with your journey on the way to your destination.
You determine the path you take as part of your mission.
But now it's about "how" exactly you want to behave on this path. How do you want to achieve certain things?
What is important to you?
You decide on a road that should bring you a little closer to your goal.
How do you want to move forward on this road now?
With haste, in a hurry, or with sustainable steps?
How do you intend to deal with people you meet on the street and act on them?
Your inner values are defined by you and arise from your deepest inner being.
I said before that the way is more important than the goal.
But even more important are your inner values, through which you define yourself.
In an earlier article “What are your personal values?” I proposed a simple process to derive and define your personal values.
This is a good starting point, and as a result of this process you will obtain a list of 6-7 inner values that resonate well with you.
When you continue to prioritize those values you will usually arrive at 3-4 essential values with your highest priority, which express and represent who you really are.
An Example to illustrate this further:
Imagine (again) a beautiful castle on the distant horizon. In your imagination you can already see the towers and other features of this castle.
You picture a lot of details like what the castle could look like, which colors, construction, features, etc.
That is your vision.
The castle is embedded in a background or context.
Imagine that you see a large lake on the horizon, next to it a mountain with a lot of forest, and your castle is on it. It shines and reflects the light of the evening sun.
This background or context is the purpose in which the castle is embedded.
There are many ways to get to the castle. You see cobbled streets, but also a mountain range in front of it, which is difficult to cross. This is your mission.
If I go this way now, how do I want to act?
What is important to me?
These are your essential values.
Only when you can live these inner values will you actually be in harmony with yourself.
A real Purpose, Vision, and Mission Statement
For your convenience a real-world example of such a one-pager purpose, vision, mission statement of the Fellowship of Mindful Tech leaders
Minimize the negative effects of stressful and toxic work environments to our health
Create a happier workplace by helping people experiencing meaningful work with joy
Support people in their personal and consciousness growth to become better leaders
Taking responsibility for the human family and create a better world
Platform & Community of Learning and Personal Growth
Developing Best Practises, Skills, and Recommendations on Mindfulness in the New Workplace
Raising Awareness of Mindfulness in the Workplace
Building a community of like minded leaders and experts with the goal of raising and cultivating awareness of mindfulness in the workplace, develop best practises of mindful leadership, and enabling transformation of tech leaders, teams, organizations and communities through new leadership principles
With this said, you have now the knowledge and concepts to get started to draft your own purpose, vision, mission, and essential values statement.
Create a Google (or Word) doc, and start populating these sections:
Be crisp and clear.
This will be a short 1-pager narrative.
It is helpful to do a 10-20 minute meditation before starting with the draft to clear your mind.
Get in a flow state and start writing.
Later on you can further refine and structure the text.
Trim every extra and unnecessary “fat” if needed. Every word that does not add value should be removed.
This is a process that can span over several weeks, months, and even years.
Have fun with it!
Once you have your first draft sit back, and thank yourself for taking the time to put your thoughts on paper.
How does it feel?
Usually when working with leaders on this topic they are extremely thankful for the clarity they achieve while following this process.
This can be truly a life-changing process.
This one-pager of your purpose, vision, mission, and essential values also becomes your North Star and guidance for all decisions.
A question like “Should I take on this new job or buy this new car?” can then be answered easily.
Only if it brings you closer to your vision, while living your essential values.
You get the idea …
Now take the time to get started. And if you have already written something down in the past, use the suggested ideas above to validate and refine it.
Share your vision here as a comment - It’s always great to read about inspiring visions and missions from people, as these can be a strong source for motivation.