AWIS recently invited Mona-Lee Belizaire, a Jamaican-born personal growth strategist and speaker, to share her ideas in a webinar. Belizaire, creator of the I Am Choosing Me movement and host of the weekly show “The Best Investment,” opened the webinar by inviting us to participate in a mindset moment, asking us to think about what we are proudest of accomplishing this year. She noted that as we review our professional, health, and social goals, we should take the opportunity to stop and celebrate what we have achieved so far. She congratulated everyone!
Belizaire loves working with women and acknowledges that we wear multiple hats that represent our different roles and responsibilities. She passionately believes, however, that as we deal with the complexity in our lives, we must show up as one person in all the spaces that we inhabit. In her work, she offers key advice about how each of us can work to consistently be ourselves, particularly by defining a personal vision, and she shared some of her insights during the webinar.
What Is a Vision, and What Are Its Benefits?
Belizaire explained that a vision is the ability to see beyond what your physical eyes can see and to look beyond your immediate circumstances. She elaborated on the concept by further explaining that:
- Vision provides direction.
You can think of your vision as essentially your “address.” This helps keep you from being pulled in different directions. Having a vision and a statement that goes with the vision actually helps you find direction.
- Vision aids in decision-making.
Your vision helps you to decide whether an opportunity is good or the right fit by determining if that opportunity matches up with your vision.
- Vision brings life satisfaction.
The more you work toward your vision, the more you cultivate it and the more confidence you gain in what you have been called on to do.
Personal Vision Statement and Its Key Principles
Belizaire next said that a personal vision statement helps you to develop a clear image of what you want your future to look like. The focus of a personal vision statement is on you: on your individual goals, dreams, desires, passions, skills, strengths, and interests. She mentioned that as you work to create such a vision statement, you should be careful not to get lost in what everyone else says but should instead focus on what you truly care about.
She also said to work to ensure that your statement is:
- Short and concise.
The first draft can be as long as you want it to be. However, as you refine it, you should edit it down. Striving for concision is important so that you can easily remember the statement, can repeat it to yourself and to others, and can practice it.
- Future bound/forward thinking.
You should write a statement that allows you to incorporate any new knowledge and experience that you gain as you move forward.
There may be times when you feel discouraged or unmotivated and times when things aren’t going well. When you look back at your vision statement, it should inspire and encourage you. It must inspire others too.
Your vision statement must encourage you to challenge yourself and to strive for the best outcomes.
The statement must mean something to you and those around you. If it is purposedriven, it will inspire you, too.
- Larger than life.
She pointed to the Alzheimer’s association vision example: “a world without Alzheimer’s disease and all other dementia.” She said it doesn’t get larger than that. They want to get to a point where there is no Alzheimer’s disease or any dementia-related disease.
It should be something beyond you, and when you consider it, it feels like you can’t pull it off, but you believe it will, and you jot it down anyway. She also referred to the fruits of the labor of Martin Luther King Jr., who had a dream and a vision. Although he didn’t live to witness it, we see the fruits, and it was so much larger than life that we are still working toward it.
Writing the Vision Statement
Belizaire went on to explain that when you write a vision statement, you should:
- Set aside time to write it (she provided worksheets to get us started and said we should spend 45 minutes to an hour as we use them to begin the writing process).
- Find a quiet space and a time when you don’t have a lot going on.
- Be reflective and introspective.
Go back in time and to former experiences. Such a process of introspection is very purposeful. Every reflection is valuable in helping to work through writing a personal vision statement.
- Be honest, transparent, and vulnerable.
Emotions may come up as you work through this process. You should lean into the feelings that come, provided that you are in a good and safe place. You should write down all that comes to mind. This is also a time to dream.
- Ask others.
Some friends and colleagues at times know you better than you know yourself. This is not because you don’t actually know yourself but because you haven’t had time to sit with yourself and to be self-reflective. Ask them for their thoughts and help!
Some questions you can consider when writing the statement include:
- Where do I want to be in the future?
- What is the idea I am constantly thinking about?
- What do I want people to say about me at the end of my life?
- What do I want to say about myself at the end of my life?
- What is the most important thing I wish I could do in my life?
- What do I want to change in the world or my community?
Using the Vision Statement
Belizaire shared that you can use the finished vision statement for decision-making, achieving focus, or finding inspiration.
She noted that your personal vision statement will evolve over time, and that you can fine-tune it as you gain more clarity. You should practice saying your statement and should put a copy of it up where you can see it. She advised each of us to use the personal statement for future planning and performance reviews and to review it every six months or so.
Finally, she outlined the following keys to ensuring that your personal vision works for you:
- Have faith.
Believe in your vision more than anyone else believes in it. The level of your faith/belief will determine your level of commitment to carrying out your vision.
- Take action.
Your actions must be strategic, planned, and purposeful. Ask yourself: Why am I doing this?
Your actions must be consistent.
Your actions must be systematic (there must be some process or system you follow that aligns with your vision.
- Participate in a strong community.
The people in your space help determine how you move on with your vision. Put yourself in areas where you can grow. Seek out a mentor (someone who is showing you where to go and a sponsor (someone willing to open the doors for you). Your community is very important. Place yourself in places where you are surrounded by people who are already where you want to go.
- Continue your education.
If your job offers professional development, take advantage of the opportunity.
You must increase in your knowledge and skills.
Read books about vision, journeying with people and where you want to go to.
- Find time for your goals and yourself.
Use your time wisely.
Give yourself grace.
Obstacles to a Personal Vision and Keys to Ensuring Its Success
Belizaire described the following impediments to carrying out a personal vision:
- Lack of motivation
- Fear/imposter syndrome
- Lack of prioritization
- Complacency and being too comfortable with the status quo
She asked: which of these obstacles would you commit yourself to working on?
In wrapping up the webinar, Belizaire asked us to consider which of the keys we would commit to and invited us to write a letter to ourselves using www.futureme.org.
She also encouraged us to read a book about this topic that she is currently enjoying, The Principles and Power of Vision: Achieving Personal and Corporate Destiny by Dr. Myles Munroe, founder, president, and senior pastor of Bahamas Faith Ministries International.
AWIS members can access a recording of the webinar here.
Elaine Nkwocha is a Doctoral Student in the Department of Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University. Her research focuses on determining the mechanisms by which a biofilm regulator protein (BifR) regulates bacterial physiology and fitness. This protein is a Multiple Antibiotic Resistance Regulatory (MarR) protein family member. Understanding this protein’s regulatory effects is essential for antibacterial agent development. Nkwocha founded Brave Space with Elaine which provides academic mentorship and the Elaine Education Foundation which helps children access education. She also sits on the Board of the Women’s Council of Greater Baton Rouge, Louisiana State. She is a changemaker, an education advocate, and an emerging global leader who is passionate about helping young people tap into and live out their passion and potential through teaching and mentorship.