I am not sure about you, but I am aware that I get ideas and have no sense of why that idea popped into my head. That does not mean everything I think is profound. Some stuff that pops into my head is crazy. Some of it is random, irrelevant or even stupid. But sometimes some good stuff pops into my mind. An idea like that is analogous to someone walking up and handing you a $20 bill. I can imagine that person saying, “Here ya go, $20 just for thinking!”
Most of the time, these ideas come and go. I don’t pay enough attention, so I know I have missed some very good ideas. Of course, the bad ones should be forgotten. And I should just laugh at the stupid ones and forget them, too. When I talk about the good ones coming into my mind, I am not talking about the ideas that come when we are in that half-sleep, half-awake state. I have in mind more the kind of ideas that come when we are in the shower or doing something that seems totally unrelated to getting a good idea.
Recently, an idea came to my mind. I was thinking about vision statements. That is not a foreign idea for me. I have lived long enough and been involved in enough institutions to have a passing acquaintance with vision statements. I have seen some that I felt were pretty effective and others that I thought were a joke. But I never thought about vision statements in the sense in which it just came to me one day.
I wondered whether very many people have personal vision statements? I wondered what I would tell someone if a person came to me and asked me, “Do you have a personal vision statement? If so, what is it?” I realized I do have such a statement and I could quickly tell someone what my vision statement is. That made me satisfied.
When thinking about vision statements for businesses or non-profits, I understand the statement to be the organizational reason for being. The vision statement is the business or non-profit’s way of stating its purpose or goal. It usually is simple and short. If it is complicated or too wordy, then the organization is not really clear. I think the same thing applies to a personal vision statement.
My personal vision statement is short, simple and general. That is fine with me. Let me share it with you and then develop it. My vision statement says that my life’s goal is “to live and to love.” I realize cynical people could laugh at it. Someone might say, “Duh!” But I don’t care. It is my vision statement and it guides me day by day. I could recount the story of when I came to this vision for myself, but that is not relevant here. Suffice it to say, I have had that vision for quite some time in my life. I did not have it when I was a kid, but it has been around a good bit of my adult life.
My vision statement---to live and to love---articulates both my goal and purpose for my life. It answers that question, “what’s the point in life?” I know I have thought about that question since I saw the 1966 movie, Alfie, starring Michael Caine. The movie chronicled some of the crazy life of Alfie. The line from the title song asks the simple question, “What’s it all about Alfie?” When I saw the movie, I probably knew that was my question, too. And it is doubtlessly everyone’s question. My vision statement is my personal answer. I know what’s it all about for me.
My vision statement---to live and to love---is general. My job day by day is to make the general specific. Daily I seek to live---not simply exist and not to go through the motions. I don’t want to look back at the end of any day and say, “Well, that was a waste!” If I can truly live each day, then I will experience a sense of vitality and well-being. With my vision statement I can do that to my dying day. We are all mortal. I need a vision statement that can hold form even if I get sick, even if I am not able to be a productive person in the work world, etc. I wanted a vision statement that could serve me to my dying day.
The other part of my vision statement has to do with love. I don’t want merely to live. I also want to love. Love is a meaningful word to me. Love works with family, friends and even enemies. I can love my friends and my grandkids. I can love the world. And since love is an action word, I cannot be content to talk about love and never be loving. If I am not loving, then love is merely a word---an idea.
There are many vision statements a person can have. I am convinced that most people have some kind of vision. I doubt that many could articulate it on the spot. In that sense it is implicit. If the vision statement has any “punch” to it, then our lives should somehow reflect that vision. I hope my life reflects in some small part my vision. I know I have not pulled it off completely, but I have time!
My vision statement is closely tied to how I am trying to make meaning in my life and do it with a purpose. I am not against having some wealth. I would like to be happy. And so forth. But most of all, I am trying to live and to love. And I know, that is going to take a lifetime.