Connecting values to vision

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We’re only human. And one of our greatest human desires—in work, in life, in anything—is to be “connected.” Especially in a world where transition, change, and redirection are so much a way of life, connecting values to vision helps us align with and connect to what’s important.

Maybe you think about your values and vision. Even better, you might even talk about our values and vision. But have you taken time to write them down? Laid out in black and white, your Connected Values & Vision Statement is an incredibly useful tool.

The process is simple. Just write down what is important to you and how you visualize success. The value of this exercise is enormous, especially at times of transition: when starting a new job, beginning a new project, joining a new organization, launching a new business, committing to new objectives.

Connecting your values to your vision is as easy as remembering the ABCs:

About You

Write down your core values: the things that are so important to you that you want them to define the way you live. Then ask yourself, “Do I spend 80% of my time living these core values?” If not, then reevaluate your list—or your life! You will be more satisfied, motivated, and productive when you devote quality time to your core values.

And know this: If you don’t define your core values, others will do it for you. Why leave that to chance?

Be at Work

Your core values won’t change much over time; but your work values might. When was the last time you took stock of what matters to you at work? What do you enjoy doing? Where do your strengths lie? What skills and qualifications will contribute to your success? Identify what’s important to you in a work environment now, and write it down.

Knowing your work values can guide you in choosing the right project, assignment, location, job, company, or career. They form a checklist that helps you assess whether a situation is a good fit. For example, you can stack your work goals up against an employer’s mission statement or corporate culture, and look for alignment.

Create a Vision

Finally, write a personal vision statement that incorporates your core values and work values, factoring in your passions and strengths. When crafting your vision statement:

  • Begin with “I.” You own this statement. Make it yours.
  • Write in the present tense. These words are for the here and now.
  • Use concrete, specific words that describe the life and work you want.
  • Aim for no more than four or five sentences—long enough to be complete, but short enough to remember.

Here’s a statement I wrote for myself, years ago:

I want to obtain a job/career where I can balance my family and professional life while contributing financially to our family; allowing me the opportunity to continue to nurture relationships; supporting others with my talents; staying focused on myself, spiritually and health-wise; and maintaining a standard of excellence in my profession and family.

With this work complete, you’ll have a valuable framework for evaluating current work situations, future career moves, and even professional development opportunities. Connecting and aligning opportunities to your values and vision means taking control, so you can act with intention and make good decisions.

Your Connected Values & Vision Statement will serve as a benchmark to measure whatever comes your way:

  • Here’s a new opportunity. How does it fit with my values and vision?
  • Something feels “off” here. Is there some aspect of this work that is disconnected from my values and vision?
  • I want to make a stronger contribution. What needs to change so my work feels like an extension of my values and vision?

Crafting your Connected Values & Vision Statement is like drawing your own compass to navigate new pathways. With this compass in hand, you’ll be able to focus on priorities, make sound decisions, and choose opportunities rather than landing them by chance.

Take control. Practice those ABCs. Use that compass.


Note to Business Leaders

Companies spend thousands of dollars drafting mission, vision, and value statements … and then fail to communicate these important messages to employees. Some people spend years never knowing their company’s vision—let alone what it means or how their actions support it. Don’t let that happen on your watch! The same ABCs described here can be applied to organizations, too. Ask yourself questions like these:

  • What matters most to our organization?
  • Have we shared our mission/vision/values with all employees?
  • Do front line managers know the importance of our mission?
  • Are we connecting our customers to our culture? How do we know?
  • Are our people demonstrating the mission through their actions and strengths—especially as they relate to and interact with our customers?
  • Does our culture encourage continued training for people to grow in their ability to support our mission?