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Mental Model

We are all allowed to be anything we want in this short life. But the daily demands of life and a myopic view can take you to an unintended destination over time. Without an inspiring vision, you will wander wasting valuable time and energy and never quite reaching your full potential. You find yourself conforming to societal pressures or the forces of what other people think you should be. A deep and visceral connection to your vision will power your unique journey and mitigate the forces that shape a life of mediocrity.


    It’s common for people to craft a career strategy and overlook how that aligns with their broader life. We are taught to plan careers but often not how this integrates with our values and what is important across all aspects of our life.

    Businesses are challenged not to overstep their bounds between the personal and work aspects of helping employees develop career plans. Therefore, many career strategy programs do not reinforce a “whole person” methodology. The problem is that when we walk into that work we don’t instantly change into a different person. We may even choose a specific career or opportunity if we understand how dimensions of our personal life could be integrated into our career strategy. There may even be dimensions of our career that conflict directly with our personal life.

    Creating a personal vision is the first step to developing a model to consciously define the values, purpose, roles, and outcomes that will shape a life of happiness and fulfillment. A clear vision will dictate how you will prioritize your time and energy. It will also act as a powerful internal force that shapes your direction and choices.

    To set a personal vision, I have adapted the popular business Collins-Porras Vision Framework (from BE 2.0 – Beyond Entrepreneurship) to an individual. I also extend it by identifying the roles we play in pursuing our vision.

    • Core Values and Beliefs – guiding principles and tenets of how we act and behave that stand the test of time.
    • Purpose – the reason for our existence that emanates from our values and acts as a guiding star always worked toward but never fully attained.
    • Outcomes – big, hairy audacious goals (BHAG) with a clear finish line and time frame.
    • Roles – the various roles you play in pursuing these goals.

    Core Values and Beliefs

    Core values and beliefs come from inside you (from BE 2.0). These are the guiding principles you authentically live by. They form your worldview of how you carry yourself, make choices, and conduct business.

    Examining our core values and beliefs can give us insight into one or more roles we play in life. For example, a leader in the workplace, a father or mother to our children, or a volunteer in our local community. Identifying the roles we play when living our values can help us to determine the expectations that others have of us in that role. 

    Recognizing the specific people that engage with each of our roles and their needs is important. Delivering on those expectations brings us fulfillment and strengthens relationships. We must also evaluate how these roles may create conflict in our life. For example, a job that requires extensive travel may conflict with the needs and expectations of being a parent. We must invest in each role to ultimately shape our whole person and make choices across our careers and lives that allow us to succeed. 

    The mental model, Know Your Identity and Roles, discuss roles in more detail.


    Our life may not be defined by a single purpose but it’s worth thinking about the aspects of what we aspire to achieve in the long term. People may define their purpose to be the greatest athlete in their sport or a respected parent. Your purpose is important to establishing a solid foundation of your direction and can often shape how you spend a typical day. Take time to reflect on your purpose knowing that it can be adjusted and redefined as you go through life. A purpose can serve as an aspirational north star that can challenge us to achieve greatness in any aspect of our life.

    The lecture, Target a Path of Your Individuality, will provide additional context for identifying and deepening your sense of purpose.

    Outcomes (BHAGs)

    With our values and purpose in place, we can then articulate and clarify the specific outcomes we are seeking to realize. They generally require daily deposits of our time, talent, and treasure as they are outcomes we cannot be quickly realized. 


    Values, purpose, and ambitious goals form the basis for making decisions daily such as where you spend your time. It’s astonishing when I see people working super hard and yet they don’t have a definition of what success and happiness are. They dedicate themselves predominately to a career and forget the other aspects of their life. They don’t have a process to evaluate where and when their life is out of balance. A documented personal vision can often serve as a visual, conscious reminder of our priorities. The biggest challenge many of us have is how we allocate our time. It’s a precious and limited asset that is not forever. 


    1 – Distill your core values and beliefs.

    Write down the values and beliefs you hold in your gut.

    Group these into themes that will serve as critical factors to power your purpose and goals.

    Identify the role(s) you play when demonstrating your values and beliefs.

    Deepen self-awareness about the expectations that people have of you in your role.

    2 – Define an inspiring purpose.

    Understand that a clear, inspiring purpose energizes our life.

    You can become anything you want in this short life.

    Summarize a short purpose that will guide your direction.

    Refine your purpose throughout different phases of your life.

    3 – Envision compelling and almost unattainable goals.

    Recognize that the greatest gifts in life take time to materialize.

    Think long-term.

    Identify outcomes with a clear finish line and time frame.

    Ensure these outcomes are rooted in your values and purpose.

    4 – Emotionally connect with your personal vision daily.

    Capture your values, purpose, and goals in a document.

    Read your personal vision document daily.

    Align your behaviors and daily work activities to accrue value to your goals.

    Experiment With This

    • One method that I have found useful is taking strict control of my calendar. All scheduled activities relate to at least one of my BHAGs. I can then evaluate if my actual time will be allocated to what I have defined as being important. Is there an imbalance between things I say I really want and yet my time and focus say otherwise?
    • Write a personal vision document that includes your values, purpose, and mission (specific goals). The act of transferring what is in your head into written form is the first step towards coming to terms with your values and a clear vision to guide your life. I prepared a personal vision document as an example that may be helpful for you to create your document. Print your vision document so it’s visible each day. The constant reminder has a way of influencing your calendar and mental state.
    • Conflict generally arises when you are not living your values or if a personal or professional relationship has values that differ from yours. Is there a relationship you should end or distance from to stay true to your values?


    How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen

    The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene (Chapter 13 – Advance with a Sense of Purpose)

    BE 2.0 (Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0): Turning Your Business into an Enduring Great Company – by Jim Collins and Bill Lazier

    Principles: Life and Work – by Ray Dalio (Principle 2.1 Have clear goals.)