Personal Vision

A personal vision is the ever evolving answer to why you are alive, and who you will become. You are motivated by this vision, and other people can be as well.

A person who knows the difference between what others want for them, and what they want for themselves, and honour that difference, are more likely to become self-actualized, a term from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. They are not passive to their situations and environment, but active players in carpe diem. Being self-actualized is similar to the term “personal mastery” used in Fifth discipline.

In order to have personal mastery, or participate in the shared vision of a group larger than the individual, a person needs to have a personal vision.

Funnily enough, when you have a strong connection with your own personal vision, you are more likely to be able to connect with a group, organization, or other collective vision. This is because a person who knows their own vision knows what part of the group vision you’re aligned with. And not only that, but people are more likely to connect with you if they know what you’re on about. People don’t listen to what someone does but why they do it. Watch: “I have a dream.”

Vision is really about the day to day level, because it is the underlying purpose for your decisions, and what you base your goals from. It is the soil for the flower. “The 5th Discipline” teaches that having a personal vision generates energy in our lives. Energy to learn, and to apply what we learn.7034168-daffodils-narcissus-flowers

downloadPractice 1: Free writing


Get out a pad of paper or open a word document (A pad is recommended for the physical connection as well as it’s more difficult to erase what you write). Read the below questions and pick one that most resonates with you. Then, take 10 minutes to write without pause on what comes up for you. Try not to question yourself as you write or filter what you put down.

i) In what situations do you feel most attuned to your purpose, most inspired, most creative, most strong, or most alive? When do you feel at your weakest?

ii) When you die, what do you want to say for your life?

iii) What would you do with your life if money, time, or personal commitments weren’t factors?

iv) Visualize the most fulfilling life for yourself. Where are you, what do you see? How do you feel? What are you doing? Who is with you and what are your interactions like?

downloadPractice 2: Write your personal vision


Leave the Free Writing exercise above for at least 24 hours. When you come back to it, underline or highlight pieces that most stand out for you. Choose the pieces that are positively framed.

Write one paragraph that’s three to four sentences and encapsulates the essence of what you underlined. Choose the words that have the strongest effect for you.

Keep your personal vision somewhere that you can easily see it, and easily update it. Remember that your personal vision is alive and progressive. It will change as you change.

downloadPractice 3: Set goals

This activity is from “The Fifth discipline” text

In order to set your goals, there are three steps.

i) Think 5 years from now, and choose five tangible ways that your personal vision will manifest in your life. Make sure that these goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic, and Time-based.

ii) Identify where you currently are at with each of those goals. How close/ far are you to reaching them, and what is left to do?

iii) Set interm goals for: each year, next month, and each day next week. Make sure that you budget time to work specifically on your goals, and a specific time each day when you review your goal for that day and the next day.

downloadPractice 4: An alternative way of deciding goals

From “The Other Kind of Smart”:

Ask yourself: What things are most important in your life? List three of the most important.

Create goals around your top three. Like in Practice 3, make sure that they are SMART goals, and write down what would be the short term and long term goals.

Don’t forget to start taking action as soon as possible.

downloadPractice 5: Find Support

“The Other kind of Smart” offers a few key points on becoming self-actualized. They are:

i) Listen to motivational tapes every opportunity

ii) Have a goal-accountability person who checks in on your progress and gives feedback

iii) Don’t share goals with unsupportive people or people who might not be supportive

Another tip around “finding support” is to immerse yourself in the environment and surround yourself with the people that inspire you and bring you closer to what you want.

downloadPractice 6: Check in with your feelings

The Other Kind of Smart also points out that we can use our feelings to tell us when we are unaligned with our personal vision, or are steering away from self-actualization. Being uninspired or missing opportunities doesn’t feel good.

Dharma teachers Doug and Catherine Sensei point out that unpleasant emotions are usually there to teach us something. If we look more closely, what will we see? Perhaps an area of our life that we are avoiding, or an area of  life that we are craving? On the absolute level of existence, we don’t want to be avoiding or craving at all. However on the relative level, we also don’t want to deny our human needs. There is a dance here that must be played between honouring and pursuing our needs, but doing so without attachment or aversion to the results.

Read more on this topic in the Emotional Intelligence article.



  1. […] to his book “The Fifth Dicipline” which covers topics such as personal mastery, personal vision, creative and emotional tension, systems thinking, various approaches to communication, and shared […]


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