Launch Global Education
Sparks blog: What’s Your Vision?

by Dr. Ann Wagner

Imagine your life in a year.  In five years. In twenty-five years.  What things will be important to you? What will you want to have accomplished? Who do you want to be?

Most companies and other institutions start with a mission statement, a vision statement, and a list of core values.  These are often called their guiding statements. When the organization’s members make a decision, they look to the company’s guiding statements to make sure the business decision aligns. If it doesn’t, then they need to decide if the decision or the guiding statements need to be reworked.

A similar approach can have great benefits for one’s life as well.  Your personal vision can be used to guide your education, career, and home life. Understanding what is important and what you would like to accomplish, and then documenting those ideas can be powerful. There is no one right way to do this, but here are a few ideas to try to get started.


Let’s take the example of a 16-year-old young woman we will call Jennifer. Jennifer really likes science and thinks she might want to be a doctor someday.  She is energized by big cities and likes to travel, but she also likes kids and wants to raise a family at some point.  She feels best when she is helping other people. However, like many 16-year-olds, she’s not sure about it all and doesn’t always feel like she knows what she is doing.

student journaling


Journaling is a terrific way to explore your thoughts and ideas.  There are many ways to use a journal, but for the purpose of this exercise, use it as a place to capture your ideas, your questions, and your uncertainties.  It is also a place for you to take stock of the things you don’t enjoy and would like to minimize in your future.  Your journal is your own! It can be in digital or paper form, and you can organize it in any way you want—the simple act of writing things down will help you synthesize random thoughts and ideas to make better sense of them over time.

For Jennifer, journaling might capture some of those insecurities: Am I smart enough to make it through medical school? Will I be a good mother? She can also write down questions she might have: How do I go about preparing for medical school? What are good cities to raise a family?

post it notes on wall

Develop a timeline

A timeline can be another great way to capture your personal vision. By no means am I advocating for you to plot everything you want to do for the next 80 years, but it can be helpful to understand at what points in your life you want to achieve things to work toward that goal.

Jennifer wants to own a home.  She initially sets her goal to buy a house at 25 years old, but then looking at the number of years she will need to be in school to become a doctor, she adjusts her goal to a few years later.  She also sets a goal to retire by 55 to travel.  Will she do these things at these exact dates?  Probably not.  But a timeline can help you see how your priorities (and what it takes to achieve those priorities) interact with each other.

Create a vision board

Do you want to get a PhD?  Do you know the kind of car you would like to drive? Do you have a goal to save a certain amount of money?  Find a picture that symbolizes that goal and make yourself a vision board.  Whether it is a digital screen saver or a poster hanging on your wall, a visual reminder of what you would like to earn or achieve in your life can be a powerful way to keep on track with your goals.

Jennifer loves postmodern houses. She finds a photo of one and adds it to her digital poster.  Then she adds photos of cities she would like to visit: Sydney, Chicago, and Prague. She adds a picture of a stethoscope a few days later and continues to grow the poster with photos that inspire her.

digital vision board

Research, research, research

These are just a few examples of the ways in which you can develop a personal vision.  As you think about the possibilities, research what it really takes to achieve these goals. Then think about how these goals align with other goals.  Do you have realistic expectations for the income you will make and the ways you see spending it? Do you have the time and energy for everything, or do you need to further prioritize?  What are some of your craziest ideas?  And what would it really take to make it happen?  To often, we set the bar too low for ourselves; research can sometimes raise our goals to loftier places.

Through her studies, Jennifer learns that with a few additional years of schooling she can become a brain surgeon.  A brain surgeon! That appeals even more to her need to help people, and the extra money she would earn would help fund her other goals. But it might take time away from her family—something to consider.

The sky is the limit

There is no idea too big when you work on your vision. There is a saying I hear in my head a lot: you can do anything, but you can’t do everything.  Like a business organization, define your vision, then put your energy toward those goals that have the most value to you.

Dr. Ann Wagner

Ann Wagner, EdD is a founder and the Vision Engineer for Launch Education.  Dr. Wagner has led international schools around the world and currently teaches at the university level, working with educators earning their masters' degrees.