Personal Strategic Planning - Creating a Personal Vision Statement

by Helene Mazur - Date: 2007-04-25 - Word Count: 871 Share This!

See the Future - Personal Visioning

The process of developing a vivid picture of the future is an important step in creating a future that is better than today. A clear, motivating image can inspire us to reach higher and overcome challenges. Once created, a vision will begin to impact today as a foundation for new decisions.

While all that sounds great, crafting a meaningful vision of the future isn't always that simple! A blank piece of paper can be daunting whether you are an artist, a writer, a programmer, or a CEO. If your natural inclination is to skip 'the vision' and get right down to business, read on. Everyone can be a creative visionary!


It is not a surprise that visual thinking plays an important role in the creative process; what many people don't realize is the role that creative thinking plays in the strategic thinking and planning process.

Henry Mintzberg in "The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning" makes a clear distinction between the skills necessary for strategic thinking and the skills needed for planning. He explains that planning involves the left side of the brain with a need for logic, reasoning, linear and rational thinking. Strategic thinking, on the other hand, requires the ability to examine new possibilities involving the right brain. Strategic thinking entails tasks such as dealing with large chunks of information, and the ability to pull pieces together into a big picture. Planning involves words and numbers and strategic thinking requires patterns and visual images.

In "Strategic Thinking and The New Science," T. Irene Sanders tells us that "strategic thinking has two major components: insight about the present and foresight about the future." Visual thinking can help us link our intuitive sense of events in the world with our intellectual understanding.

Although there are different viewpoints, most current scientific research shows that while no one is totally left-brained or right-brained, most people have a distinct dominance on one side or the other. In tasks such as the development of a long-range strategy, where thinking needs to come from both sides of the brain, it is important to find ways to draw out both our imagination and our analytic abilities. Visual based techniques can help us link possibility thinking, intuition, and current realities.


A vision can be a mental picture of an "ideal" organization, relationship or life. Studies have shown that we are more likely to reach an objective if we can see it and can imagine the steps to reach it. Visioning is a common strategy in sports. Olympic skaters imagine themselves going through the steps and landing a perfect jump.

Visual thinkers create pictures or models of a problem in their mind, play with the visual, move it around, refine it, and use it to raise more questions. A drawing or model helps push thinking further. Albert Einstein imagined himself traveling through the universe as a "man in a box" on a ray of light. This vision helped him develop the theory of general relativity.


In any personal strategic planning process, there are four basic questions to answer:

Where are you now?
Where are you going?
Where do you want to be?
How are you going to get there?
Visual techniques can help to address these questions and assist the mind "to see." Seeing can help with the process of identifying opportunities, organizing thinking, and setting goals.

Try out one of the following exercises:

Envision an article written in the future about you What would it say? In what publication would it be written?

Draw a picture of your desired future in a diagram, sketch, model, or in a photographic montage. In "The Artist's Way," Julia Cameron suggests creating collages or journals to help develop ideas.

Imagine yourself receiving an award for a major accomplishment.

What is the award for? What has been accomplished?


Mind Mapping is a powerful technique that can help generate ideas and expand thinking. While there are many different "mind mapping" systems, the basic process involves expanding on ideas using key words and branches. The objective is to make a complex or thorny issue easier to understand, explore, or or talk about. The 'Map' itself uses words, lines, logic, colors, images, and links to draw out associations and stimulate thinking.

Create a simple mind map:

A. Draw a circle in the middle of a blank sheet of paper and write a project, goal, dream or idea in the center of the circle

B. Draw lines (spokes or branches) radiating out from the central circle

C. Write down thoughts/ideas that relate to the central circle at the end of each spoke and circle them

D. From each of the new circles repeat steps B-C, continuing out as far as you feel comfortable

Try translating the ideas to an outline form and try to create some action steps based on your thinking.


Visual tools and techniques are the most effective when they are set in the right framework. One of the keys to good visioning is asking good questions. The combination of questioning and visual techniques can bring out the "creative thinker" in even the most task-oriented person. Are you focused on the right questions?

A properly trained coach can help you use these and many other techniques to help you paint a better picture of the future, and take action

Related Tags: personal planning, vision statement, personal strategic plan, personal vision statement

Helene Mazur, MBA, CFP is the founder of Princeton Performance Dynamics, a business coaching company. Helene coaches professionals, business owners and their teams to reach out of their comfort zone to achieve important goals and do more of what makes them come alive. Her website is

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