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“Psychological experiments demonstrate that people exhibit a taste for consistency. Individuals are inclined to interpret new evidence in ways that confirm their pre-existing beliefs. They also tend to change their beliefs to enhance the desirability of their past actions.”

– Leeat Yariv, “I’ll See It When I Believe It – A Simple Model of Cognitive Consistency”

Imagine: for the sake of “consistency,” we are willing to force-fit new information into the same old ice tray of beliefs.

Sure, consistency is critical in manufacturing, brand communication and gravy.  But when things aren’t going the way you want them to, you must make changes that bring about new results.

What’s the first step? The belief that it could be otherwise.
How best to invoke that belief?
What does this have to do with your business?

I’d like to offer a way to break patterns in your business that are no longer serving you.

Vision Statements: See It, Believe It, Achieve It

One of the first things I ask new clients to do is describe a “picture of success” for the future of their business.  I use this information to help us create a Vision Statement, the strategic foundation for our work together.

A Vision Statement is an evocative, detailed description
of the way your business will look at a specific future date, anywhere from 1 to 5 years away.  It answers the question, “When our intentions are fulfilled, and the business becomes what we want  it to be, how will things look, feel and be?”

Vision Statements aren’t just about the visual appearance of your future.  Rather, they vividly illustrate the culture, contribution, environment, activity, reputation and emotions you will experience when you arrive at your vision.

Effective Vision Statements call to mind a clear, similar mental image for everyone who hears them, so they’re an excellent way to get everyone involved in a business or a project on the same page.  They can be exceptional communication tools because they’re at once analytical and emotional.

Vision Statements differ from mission statements, in that they describe how you will BE, not what you’ll DO.  I prefer to write them in the present tense, like an affirmation.  For example, “Our offices are filled with a spirit of abundance, smiling faces and incoming phone calls from perfect clients.”

5 Great Reasons to Make a Vision Statement

  1. Because, as athletes teach us, it’s easier to achieve what you’ve already seen, even if you’ve only seen it in your mind’s eye.
  2. Because when Vision Statements are specific and aspirational enough, they inspire and motivate you.  That gets you moving on the path to fulfilling your vision.
  3. Because imagery communicates better than sterile numerical targets.  Which is more motivating to a start-up? “Year-end sales: 5,000 units” or “It’s the end of [year], and we have nourished health-conscious teens 5,000 times with our delicious energy bars.”
  4. Because a Vision Statement sparks and stretches the imagination and helps you dream of what is possible.  It’s the future, not tomorrow, even if it’s only 6 months or a year away.  Expect surprises, miracles and ingenious insights.
  5. Because, by imagining your business as it will be, you can “visit” your future and plan for the unexpected.  In my experience, people always discover opportunities they might have overlooked and threats that might have sabotaged their success.

OK, How Do I Do This Vision Thing?

Developing a Vision Statement is a collaborative process and a fantastic teambuilding exercise.  You should involve multiple participants to get diverse and better ideas. Include participants from all levels of your organization, since those involved in coming up with the Vision Statement will first dream it, and then make it happen.

After the collective brainstorm, one or two people should write the statement, since writing is NOT a group process.  Keep it to a paragraph or a page, but not a tome.

Generally, a Vision Statement is an internal document
, which means you might choose to post it in your office but not on your web site. After all, your future is less interesting and relevant to your site visitors and clients than what you are doing for them now.

[Secret for the gung ho: You can use Vision Statements for planning in smaller increments, such as 3 months, 1 month, a week or a day.  Writing it down = commitment!  I also use them for short-term projects so that my client and I both know what we’re achieving.]

How to Write a Vision Statement: Easy Action Steps

  • Grab a colleague, friend or business advisor.
  • Select a date in the future.
  • Imagine what your business will be like when your intentions for it are realized.  How will things look and feel?  Close your eyes and imagine yourself there.  What do you experience all around you?

And remember, if you don’t like something you envision, just erase it and start over.  It’s easier to do that now with an eraser than it will be three years from now when it’s a reality.

Can you share what you’re envisioning for your future in a comment below?

Photo: visualpanic