A Look at Vision Statements

One of the tools I extoll in my book Retirement Transition – An Innovative Approach  (link here to Amazon purchase) is the use of a Vision Statement and Action Plan. 

As one of my favorite quotes says:

“Would you tell me please which way I should go from here?” said Alice.

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland

A vision statement can take many forms – from a Vision Board, to a Series of I AM statements, to a Five Year Story.  It’s reflective of your personal values and how you want to live your life.  

When transitioning into retirement, which is a huge shift in life, a vision statement can take time to develop.   My book walks you through reflection steps to aid in creating one – using a holistic 7-domains life framework (here’s a LINK to recent post on this topic).   In my book, I also talk about refining your vision statement and your life action plan as you go through retirement. 

Last month I passed my 6-year retirement anniversary and so I’m sharing that refinement work – how my retirement lifestyle vision statement and life action plan has evolved.  And also what I’ve learned about using these tools along the way.  This is the “really, really” with lots of detail and will probably be more information than you care to read!  And it also is reflective of the fact 1) I am an over-thinker, 2) I am a planner, and 3) I love frameworks and lists!

My Initial Retirement Lifestyle Vision Statement: “I will be more the person I want to be: truly active, a good friend, a creative integrator, growing my foodie wannabe-ness, and allowing the latent adventurer inside me to emerge.”

Goal AreaSpecific Actions
Physical Well Being – be more active and eat healthier– Get in the habit of walking Taylor… add in weight training; focus on more time outdoors!
– Eat better – More fruits & veggies in diet (Shop farmers markets); watch portion size!
– Get a massage to de-stress
– Zumba weekly, Weekly walk with KD
Financial Security – get us set up for the future Deal with retirement financial transitions & taxes
– Get more internet savvy – linked In, on-line bill pay
– SIL future plan – work through timing/transition plan
HomeDe-clutter – Create Top down plan – photos, etc.
– Continue to explore housing options for us
Connections – create intentional connections plan Plan Regular events – with other couples (specific list)
– Build intentional connections (specific list)
– Work with Tim to define our “we time”
– Mom surgery support
Mental stimulation Writing – book? blog? Create tools for consulting?
– Create a walk-about  – Museums, Blake at Playhouse, Impact 100, Crossroads
– Explore OLLI, Roadscholar, travel
– Regular to do lists and check off!
– Explore Consulting options
Increase Leisure Activities Plan & execute wire-wrapping exploration
– Florida trip – increase biking!
– Create Foodie-ness plan
First Retirement Transition Action Plan

My Learning: My very first Vision Statement was positive but still more “future” versus “present”.  There was not a strong link to goal areas or to my values.  Looking back at it, there was a lot of “should” (what I thought I should do in retirement) as well as realization of what I needed to replace with no more full time work (loss of mental stimulation and connections).  It was not a bad first start and reminds me to continue to encourage others to just begin their own retirement transition journey!

First Refinement of Vision Statement or Take 2: “I am truly active, a supportive wife & loyal friend, a researcher & synthesizer (a system builder). I am growing my foodie wannabe-ness, and allowing the latent adventurer and creative artist inside me to emerge. I balance work and life, with more play and less work, living an active, healthy lifestyle.”

Goal AreaSpecific Actions
Out & About  – 10 activities/monthPlan 2 day trips per month with Tim
– Foodie-ness plan  – food club; cooking boot camp, Foodie Meet-ups
– Plan activities with friends
– Create a walk-about plan – Museums, Blake at Playhouse, Impact 100, Crossroads, ESC
– Explore OLLI, Roadscholar, travel
Fun with Friends
Time with Tim  
Plan intentional activities with specific list of people (new and old friends)
– Build intentional Consulting Networking (specific list of people); explore writers group
– Work with Tim to define our “we time”
Physical Well Being – be more active and eat healthier– Get in the habit of Walking Taylor, focus on more time outdoors
– Eat better – More fruits & veggies in diet; watch portion size!
– Get a regular massage to de-stress
– Continue with Zumba weekly and Monday walk
– Explore Yoga
Location, Location– Monitor finances & taxes
– Explore housing for us
– SIL future plan – work timing/transition plan
– Home – declutter it!
Work/ Mental Stimulation/
Feeling of Accomplishment
– Project work exploration – both Innovation Consultant and Certified Life Coach
– The Artist Within – plan wire-wrapping exploration, coloring book, plan artist dates
– Play with words – Writing, blogging, reading, crosswords
– Regular to do list and check off!
– On hold: ESC exploration
My Action Plan

My Learning: My vision statement was getting more complicated, but also adding my insight that I need to focus on life, not work. I can see in this version my working through the Innovation Process steps! But I see things on the action plan that never happened (still the should?) and a bigger element of work continuation coming in (even with the more play, less work vision!).   I know this plan was trying to achieve the 25/25/25/25 split of  “fitness, fun, friends, funds (work)” that I believed was “right” and was easy to articulate.  Many of these goal areas were maintained for a couple of years and some are still on my Action Plan today!

Retirement Lifestyle Vision Statement – Take 3: SOAR – savoring – optimistic – activating – resilient

“I am an active person, leading a healthy lifestyle, experiencing things, enjoying daily life, & savoring the moments. I am a supportive wife & loyal friend. I have an abundance of friendships. I am having fun!  I am growing my foodie wannabe-ness, and I allow the latent adventurer and creative artist inside me to emerge.  My body is capable. I am physically active, practicing preventive behaviors, eating healthy, and managing medical conditions.  I am living in a comfortable, welcoming house that fills my and Tim’s (articulated and unarticulated) needs. I am grateful for our financial security. I feel I have a life purpose.   I practice positivity, embrace the rhythm and flow of my life, the joy of living.”

ValueIntention Areas
Knowledge/ Mastery  – Be the Expert/Sage – Career Continuation, Networking & Part-time – Compensated gigs
– Play with Words: Writing/Blog, Reading, Crossword
– Find Purpose – self-discovery; explore philanthropic activity
– Be a Beginner: Learning on Spirituality, Night Sky, Chess, Birds, Jewelry Making
Belonging / Connections– Intentional Connections – nurture relationships: Time with Tim; Fun with Friends; Couple Camaraderie; Blogging Buddies; Mid-week Foodies; Work Networking
Personal Choices – Be Active – turn intention into action  – Live Life:  Get Out & About – be active with 10 experiential activities per month – with Tim, with friends, by yourself
– Latent Adventurer: Mini Adventures (physical or mental); Plan day trips; Meet Up exploration (birding, book club), Foodie wannabe (new restaurants); learn new things (explore, discover, try); Big Travel Plans
– The Artist Within: jewelry, writing, explore mixed media
– Healthy Living – Move It Every Day – Zumba, Yoga, Walking, FL Biking, gardening, SUP, Walk Taylor; Nourish My Body – mindful eating, eat more greens & fruit, hydrate, sleep when needed, and occasional massage!
Security & Structure  – De-cluttering & organizing home
– Financial Security reviews
– SIL Caregiving
Gratitude    – Practice Positivity – journaling & emotional monitoring; practice gratitude; Know Thyself – self acceptance & Let Go of the Negative
Intention Areas

My Learning: An even more complicated vision statement as I tried to embrace the “I Am” approach using affirming elements I wanted to be true. My WOTY (word of the year) was SOAR and that helped me through my cancer-fighting year, but it wasn’t well integrated into my retirement lifestyle vision nor my action plans. My Action Plan areas linked closer to my values (which I like!), but it was less linked to my vision statement.  While a lot of this feels right, it also feels very disjointed!

Current Retirement Lifestyle Vision Statement: Active, Connected, Creative, Contemplative

Intention AreaValues LinkAction Plan Activities
Play with WordsMastery/ CreativityBlog, crosswords, reading (new book tracking), journaling, book club(s), knowledge synthesis writing, new book?
Intentional ConnectionsBelongingTime with Tim, Compatible Couple connections, Walk & Talks, Phone friends, Foodie Club, Be the designated planner, Florida plan
Out & AboutActive Lifestyle/ AutonomyMini-adventures, New &/or fun things tracking, Culinary experiences, travel planning (future)
Healthy LifestyleActive LifestyleYoga, Strength training, Walking, SUP, bike, Zumba; eat more fruits & veggies, spend more time outdoors
Welcoming HomeSecurityTime in garden, Plan home gatherings, Monitor finances, Continue to de-clutter, New house set up!
Self-Discovery ContemplationAutonomyPractice positivity (gratitude, mindfulness, joy), Release workbook/ self-acceptance, meditation, SIL Transition (release)
The Artist WithinCreativity/ KnowledgePlay with crafts, explore new things (track!), on-line classes, new recipes
Current Action Plan Areas

Other elements:

  • 2020 WOTY: RELEASE so I can be the true me – active, connected, creative, contemplative.
  • Separate Authentic Me Statement – my “I AM” statements, encompassing affirmations and empowering statements to release self-limiting beliefs, are now a separate element.  Still important, and even longer than before, but no longer the “vision statement”.

What I like about my current vision statement and action plan?   Separating my I Am statement and focusing on 4 key words, which are tightly linked with my values, drives clarity and connectivity.  The Intention Areas line up, my tracking tools line up, and I was able to link my WOTY to my vision statement.  As I reviewed this statement and intention areas recently as part of my Covid-19 reflection time, it still felt “right”.  

Although I was a strong proponent of the “I AM” vision statement, it started to feel cumbersome.  Now, my 4-word phrase easily articulates my retirement lifestyle vision and links everything together from my values to my real daily & weekly activities. 

Have you refined your retirement lifestyle vision statement through the years?  What format(s) do you find helpful?

P.S. This is my first blog post with the new block writer… so bear with me as I learn the new formatting tools!!

21 thoughts on “A Look at Vision Statements

  1. Hi Pat, I thought your 6-year lookback was very interesting — not only the evolution of your plan and goals over the years of your retirement but also that you continue to use it and how it helps you. As some have commented, I think it depends on the person how they manage their lives to feel happy — because that’s what it’s all about for all of us — and I’m like you that I’ve found that I feel better about my life when I know I have an underlying “theme” of sorts to live by. Articulating that in some way helped me a lot and helped me to realize I need a sense of utility and purpose beyond my own relationships, hobbies and leisure activities. I have my personal mission statement always in the background and it’s so much more than a To-Do list. Having it in mind helps to guide my days and the activities I chose now in retirement — coming up on 3 years for me! Thanks again for your great posts and this community.


    1. Judi, I’ve been spending time recently re-visiting Positive Psychology and seeing if my own life statement and action plans align with the science of what drives happiness… and if not, what do I need to intentionally add/change A sense of purpose continues to be a challenge for me… it has been since early in retirement and I’ve revisited the topic multiple times, and probably will again as it is one of the happiness elements!


  2. I am impressed, Pat, by the intentional (and evolving) nature of your retirement. I have a mission statement: Live, laugh, learn, and love. And I have articulated my values that support that: health and fitness, joy, growth/learning, and connections/relationships. I have not written a true value statement, but am going to put some thought into that. I appreciate you sharing your process and progress with us. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Christie, I think articulation of your values is your value statement. And I like your mission statement (which to me is just a different phrase for a life vision statement) – the alliteration is wonderful! I’m taking a course on Positive Psychology right now and today’s lecture pointed out that the 2 most important things for being happy are gratitude and love of learning, followed by love, hope, and humor. Between your mission statement and your monthly gratitude post, I know you’re in a fabulous place.


  3. When I was still working, I was always on our campus improvement team and we had to write our school vision statement and action plan. Whenever I write out seasonal goals or wellness goals, I think back on the way we had to structure our plans for the campus. Our goals had to be specific and measurable and we had to have an agreed upon time frame in which to accomplish them. I work best when I have put those same kinds of qualifiers on my personal goals. Run 4X a week. Read 3 books a month. Dress up every Sunday for church. I think I will re-examine my blogging and retirement goals as we thankfully approach a new year. My blog morphed in an unplanned direction and I want to get it back on track. And there are still so many things I want to accomplish and experience in retirement. Time to refocus!! Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had to stop and figure out why I don’t put specific measures on things anymore. It’s even a tool I wrote about doing in my book! I realized that I tended to feel bad (like a failure) if i didn’t hit the numbers. And I don’t like/need that feeling of failure. So what if I only did 2 days of yoga versus 4 last week! That said, I do track some things like books read (goal is 52 for the year, already hit with pandemic reading) and new things tried (goal is 101 which I really doubt I’ll hit with pandemic isolation!). I also do try for things like 4-5 days of exercise, 1 new recipe a week, and a weekly blog post. But I don’t put specifics and measures on everything anymore…and try and go with the flow more. I look at my week and hope to see a mix of being active, connected, creative and contemplative… and when I do, I’m happy!


  4. Right now Pat, given what is going on the world, I feel like I am lucky to get through each day. My vision to the future, right now, stops at what happens on 11/3 and the months leading up to 1/20/2021. I pray there is a future after that that I feel I can look forward to and plan for…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AGMA, I pray that what you hope for on 11/3 happens. It is hard to look forward right now… with so much insanity/unrest/craziness/stupidity happening in this country. For me, a vision statement for things that I can control helps,


  5. Hi Pat! WOW! I’m always so impressed with your planning abilities. I consider myself to be a planner but I pale in comparison. I do set intentions every year but they are nearly always about “being” rather than doing. But I did come across the work of a man name Bill Bengston that has me trying a “20” which is an interesting process. So that’s about all I’ve been taking on lately. And congratulations for your 6-year Retirement Anniversary! Time sure goes fast doesn’t it!? ~Kathy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kathy, it has sped by. But when I stopped to think about all that I’ve done in the 6 years, there’s been a lot – a lot of personal growth, too. I’m still working on the being … as well as the doing. Is it weird to plan the being moments?


  6. Just curious. Was wondering if you would change anything in your book now that you have been retired longer?

    My husband and I are now 8 years into retirement. He has absolutely no plan. I do follow your suggestion to create yearly goals. Even wrote them up in pretty colored markers and have them displayed in a frame in my knitting nook. Rarely follow them. Guess if I ever become unhappy with my life I’ll become more intentional. So it’s always good to have your tools available if I ever feel the need for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What an intriguing question! I think there are bits of the the book I might re-do, but in general, the core framework and approach I would not change. I still use many of the tools!

      My hubby is not a planner either. I do notice however, that he’s quite happy when I’ve planned out some things for us to do. I approach my “yearly goals” more like “suggestions”. If I’m not intentional about doing things, then I feel dissatisfied with my life. Cause & effect? Not sure as you’ve stated it the opposite!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Pat – I’ve never been able to fully grasp the idea of vision statements, vision boards, forward planning lists etc. I’m a planner but I tend to go with the flow more and I feel like I’m not setting myself up for disappointment if I don’t have specifics. Another blogger I follow has just been writing about having an annual manifesto and how to create one – it sounded interesting too and maybe the universe is trying to tell me something? Anyway, it was interesting to see how yours has been evolving as you settle more into the retirement phase of life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leanne, One of the things I’ve learned is to not be too upset if everything on the plan doesn’t happen! It’s not written in stone, for sure. But my planning helps me motivate myself to make things happen which then gives me a sense of satisfaction. Others are fine with going with the flow… when I’m left to that, I do nothing. I think knowing yourself, and what you need, is so important. My approach is definitely not for everyone.


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