I wrote my first Vision Statement when I was about 7 years old. On that yellow lined paper, I wrote that when I turned 15, I was going to pack my bags and move to Hollywood to become a famous actor. I remember that turning 15 seemed like decades away and that I would have boatloads of time to make my dreams come true. I Scotch-taped that yellow Vision Statement on my bedroom door for all to see.
So when I actually did turn 15, I found myself packing my bags to leave my small hometown in Oregon, but it wasn’t for Hollywood’s stage. Instead, I was headed for South Africa, during the tumultuous Apartheid years, as a foreign exchange student. Suddenly, I found myself on a much bigger world stage, getting all of the independence and real-world exposure my 7-year old self had been craving and desired.
Fast forward many years, and in my 20’s, I was traveling abroad and following my passions, wherever the world took me. My Vision Statements at the time brought me to live in exciting new places like Paris, London, Tbilisi and Moscow, but I still had a deep yearning and existential angst about what my life’s purpose might be.
Finally, upon returning to the States just before turning 30, I was ready to put my global nomadic life experiences and deep desire to have a positive impact in the world into form and action. It was time to blaze my own path and create the big Vision that had been emerging in my heart, soul and mind. With encouragement and support from my mentor, I wrote a bold Vision Statement with a clear timeline, which felt very scary at the time! I wanted to offer my solution to the problem I perceived, that American youth were not being adequately prepared nor empowered to make a difference in the challenged world we live in. Furthermore, I was very disturbed about the inequities in our public schools and frustrated that mostly only a few elite students had access to those same life-changing study abroad experiences that I had the privilege to experience in my youth.
Creating my own social venture, OneWorld Now!, was one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life, and by far, the MOST rewarding. All of this was made possible because of my heart-felt declaration on my Vision Statement that I kept returning to as my foundation and steady rock, during the most challenging moments. It was so exciting to experience such a bold dream and idea in my head actually becoming a reality in this world!
The organization successfully grew over the years and became nationally-recognized for its innovation and model for developing the next generation of global leaders. Most importantly, thanks to OneWorld Now! existing, thousands of underserved young Americans have access to transformational international experiences, leadership training and the support to jumpstart their own visions in the world. The youth are asked to write their own Vision Statements at the start of the program. I just loved seeing the sparkle in their eyes as they experienced some of their own Visions coming true, like receiving a scholarship to study in Egypt, getting accepted into their dream college, starting a social venture or becoming President of their student body! So it all comes full circle and this is where Vision begets Vision and why I am so passionate about encouraging others to declare their own Visions for their lives.
The most significant events in my life all started with Vision Statements, where I dared to declare in a very bold way, what I really wanted to create in my life. After writing many, many, many Vision Statements, and coaching hundreds of young people on creating their own, I have experienced first-hand the power of declaring your deepest desires and writing it down. I have also learned along the way about what it takes to make it happen, but first and foremost…everything starts with Vision!
This post was originally published on Medium.com