By Dave Costello, TCV Growth Partner
Whoa, Dave, backup there partner!! How does having a personal vision statement relate to accounting and finance? You’re coloring outside the lines here, Dave!
Well, you are right, I am outside the lines. But I’ll tie it together. Make sure you let me know how I did by sending me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
First, let’s work on trying to define what a Personal Vision Statement is. And naturally, the answer is, it depends. You can do an internet search and find many similar but different answers. What really matters is that it relates to you and what you want to achieve. So let’s say the definition is:
a clear, concise summary of your personal goals and dreams for the future
a guide for making decisions based on the values you have
a tool that helps you stay focused on the goals you want to achieve
I didn’t say it was going to be easy! It could take several tries before you are comfortable. And it will likely change over time as your goals change. But your Personal Vision Statement will function as your compass in life keeping you on course!
Its also not static, i.e., set it and forget it. You should review your Personal Vision Statement periodically, you determine how frequently, for a couple reasons. One, to help keep you on track and two, to see if anything needs to be changed. Its OK to make changes as necessary as life changes. This is YOUR life and YOUR tool.
An early step in this process is to identify the elements you should include in your Personal Vision Statement. Remember, this is about YOU, not me, so consider the elements that you want to include to help you achieve what matters most in your life.
You might start with a discovery process. Answering these questions might help:
What matters most to you?
What things do you want to have?
What kind of person do you want to be?
What are the things you want to do?
What contributions do you want to make?
This is your opportunity to dream! What are the things you do today that give you the most satisfaction and how can you ensure your future continues to include those elements? While this is a personal vision statement, there can be and likely is significant crossover to your business life and activities. Make sure to include the values you have as those typically drive decisions you make.
What are the areas you should cover in your vision statement? Start with this list and see if it covers all the areas that are important to you and in which you have goals or aspirations. There could be others you might want to include so have at it. Remember, this is your guide for your future so let’s work hard on it! One warning: if you are a business owner its virtually impossible to separate business from other aspects of your life, but your life should not be just your business. Its important for you to look at your whole life.
> Personal Growth
> Social Life
> Personal Wealth
Once you have the areas identified you will rate where you think you are from 1 to 10, with lower ratings meaning you don’t think you are doing so well within that segment and higher ratings meaning you think you are doing OK or well in that segment of your life. As you look at the ratings you established within each of your segments you start to identify those areas of your life that are important to you but where you don’t think you are achieving what you would like to achieve in that area. These are the segments with the lower ratings generally.
So the next step is to make a plan for improving in those lower rated segments of your life. This generally becomes your Personal Vision Statement. It can be set up in bullet points or outline form and should be relatively short, that is no more than 100 words or so. Too many goals will diffuse your attention and focus. Stay keyed in on the ones where you aren’t feeling you are performing adequately and work to improve those. At the same time you want to work to maintain the higher ratings in areas.
One of the words I like to use this year is “INTENTIONAL”. It seems to me that in order to accomplish any goal we have to be intentional in working to achieve it. In my mind intention brings focus. This is true in the Strategic Plans for our businesses and its true in our Personal Vision Statements.
An example of its value is the story that Brian Tracy included in his book Goals! about a study that reveals just how effective written goals can be. Not sure if this is fact or fiction, but here is what Tracy reports:
In 1979, the graduates of the Harvard MBA program were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” Only 3 percent of the graduates said yes. Thirteen percent had goals, but not in writing. Fully 84 percent had no specific goals at all.
Ten years later, the researchers found that the 13 percent who had goals not in writing were earning twice as much as the 84 percent of students who had no goals at all. And they found that the 3 percent of graduates who had clear, written goals when they left Harvard were earning, 10 times as much as the other graduates all together. The only difference between the groups was the clarity of the goals they had for themselves when they graduated.
Talk about being intentional! Which group would you want to be in? The 3% for sure!! Are you?
So, let's tie it back to accounting and finance.When you build a financial forecast or strategic plan, you are including goals that it is your intention to achieve!You set out plans for how you are going to achieve them and the steps that must be taken, and you establish timelines and KPIs to help monitor your progress.You have experience in putting together the kinds of information that go into a Personal Vision Statement with your experience in accounting and finance.Even business owners who have raised capital with investors or used personal funds for the business understand the process. All I’m suggesting is to use those same skills in establishing a plan for life, your personal vision, that will enable you to achieve what matters most to you!