In crafting a personal vision statement to help define your leadership role, you need to focus on the future and where you want to lead others. Without a vision statement, you run the risk of being caught up in the pressures and urgencies of the present moment, always putting out fires and paying attention to immediate deadlines. It is too easy to sacrifice the future for the current circumstances. A personal vision statement can keep that from occurring.

Identify your specific goals. Think about what story of achievement you would like to be able to tell in the future. Imagine what it will be like to accomplish these goals. Look for positive and concrete images that convey where you want to be, focusing on images that express achievement, cooperation and power. Make sure you've set realistic goals, then place your goals on a timeline.

Identify the values and challenges implicit in your goals. Be courageous in standing up for your values. Include the purpose of your organization here. Values you might want to express include professionalism, respect, trust, excellence and quality.

Identify what you value the most about your goals and what your customers or employees will value. Think about the kind of person you need to be to achieve your goals and what you must believe in order to accomplish them. Consider your employees' values; employees are more likely to get excited about a vision statement if it aligns with values they already hold. Focus on your uniqueness as a person and on your organization's uniqueness to specify how your values will help you as a leader.

Combine your values and goals into an expression of your vision. Make sure your statement is crystal clear. Make your vision statement as specific as possible so you and your employees could look at it any day and state whether you as a team are meeting the vision. Keep it fairly short, about two to three sentences, giving it enough room to say what it needs to say but keeping it short enough to be memorable.

Hone your vision until it expresses exactly what you want it to say. Find language that will motivate and energize your employees or customers. Emphasize the collective identity of your organization by using words like "we" and "our" and by focusing on what everyone in the organization has in common. Be creative and feel free to tweak the "rules" about what a personal vision statement should look like if tweaking helps you express your own vision even better.