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How to Write a Vision Statement

Updated on May 16, 2017
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Sally is a business communications coach who gives workshops on how to keep your professional reputation squeaky clean and drama-free.

A vision creates a picture of the kind of world your organizations wants to create. Most people do their best work when they have a clear understanding of the intrinsic value and meaning behind every task, no matter how big or small.

A vision statement is how an organization communicates its reason for being to the world. Learn more about why your organization needs a vision statement and how you can guide your team in writing an effective vision statement.

A vision statement is the first step in turning a lofty idea in a reality.
A vision statement is the first step in turning a lofty idea in a reality.

Why Do You Need a Vision Statement?

Anyone who has set their sights on achieving a goal should start by writing a vision statement. A well-written vision statement will help set the general direction as you set off towards a goal. But keep in mind, the vision statement provides you with a general direction, a place to go, so to speak. A vision statement doesn’t provide the map for getting there. It isn’t a list of steps you need to take or directions you need to follow or things you need to do to get to your goal. Your vision statement is what compels you to keep moving forward. It keeps your drive and motivation fired up because it reminds you of why getting to your destination is worth your time and effort—your blood, sweat at tears, if you will.

The Characteristics of an Effective Vision Statement

The most effective vision statements are:

Easy to understand. A vision statement filled with technical language and jargon that the average population doesn’t understand will be less effective than one written in clear, plain language.

General. The purpose of a vision statement is to name your destination, not describe how you will get there.

Inspirational. When people hear your vision statement, they ought to be moved by it. A vision statement that doesn’t stir people’s emotions is not likely to motivate you, your organization and/or you supporters to help you achieve your goal.

Ambitious. Effective vision statements identify challenging goals that go above and beyond mere every day activity.

About people, not profits. Vision statements shouldn’t be about profits or personal gain. They should be about making the world a better place, addressing an important social issue or helping others attain a better quality of life.

Easy to share with others. Your vision statement should be short and easy to remember. It should be able to fit neatly on promotional materials, business cards, on social media and through word of mouth.

Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.

— Jack Welch

Writing Your Vision Statement

Crafting your vision statement—whether it’s your own personal vision statement or one for your business or non-profit organization---will challenge you to think about where you want to be in five, 10, or 25 years. A vision statement is short and should be no longer than two sentence—one sentence is even better. Your vision statement should be written using plain language and simple syntax. The more clauses you include in your vision statement the more complicated it will be.Here are some things to consider as you start working on your vision statement.

  • What are your organization’s strengths? A vision statement that draws on your strengths and abilities is going to sound far more realistic and achievable than one that focus on your weaknesses.
  • What is the number one thing your organization wants to do? Answering this question should be quite easy and should fly right off the tip of your tongue. For example, "End poverty!", "Provide safe shelter spaces for homeless youth!" and "Stop animal cruelty" are examples of singular statements that can be used as as basis for writing your vision statement.
  • What sets your organization apart from others? Why are you uniquely qualified to tackle a particular social issue?
  • What makes people feel good about your organization? How are they positively connected to your cause? In other words, why should they care whether or not you reach your goal?

If you are writing a vision statement for your business or organization, keep the other members of your organization in mind. In fact, the best way to write an effective vision statement is to actually include staff and volunteers in the process of preparing the statement.

A well-written vision statement makes it easy for others to want to lend a hand in making the world a better place.
A well-written vision statement makes it easy for others to want to lend a hand in making the world a better place.

The visionary starts with a clean sheet of paper, and re-imagines the world.

— Malcolm Gladwell

© 2017 Sally Hayes

Comments

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  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    15 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    I was very interested in your 1-2 sentence approach. In doing financial crisis and re-organization work I often found a dusty old one that nobody had read in years. For real, one time I read one on a wall in the bathroom that was ten years old and not in line with current goals.

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