‘Hi, my name’s Phil, and I help people realise just how much easier and better things can be.’
This is my personal vision statement, AKA my “PVS”. It’s kind of like my personal GPS. A few words that give me clarity, purpose and send me in the right direction, every day. And today, right now, you’re going to learn how to create your very own.
Once I discovered what mine was, it became a powerful sentence that totally flipped my story. It turned my pain into passion, helped give me direction and provided me with purpose every day.
So whether you’re at a crossroads trying to figure out where’s next for you, or simply looking to inject a little more purpose and passion into your life, knowing your “PVS”, your personal vision statement, can really help you figure out your next steps.
Sound good to you? Buckle up. Let’s go.
Changing your story.
When I was a kid, my grandma used to sit in her favourite rocking chair and share her most inspiring stories. These were her life lessons, and wow they were juicy. My favourite?
She would say in a thick caribbean accent “back in the 60’s, I got on a big boat and me sailed from South America all the way to the UK”. She was one brave mother my grandma Doris. She left her four children behind in search of a better life for her and her kids.
Travelling solo, she had no idea what she was heading into, what was next for her. It’s not like today where we research our every move before we’ve even gone anywhere. My grandma didn’t know if she’d get a job or what her life would look like. No clue. She braved radical action so she could say “I am giving my kids a better life” to change her story and her childrens. That was her PVS.
Each year she’d save just enough money to sail one of her kids over to join her, until one day the whole family were back together again.
Pretty brave, right?
She was full of fear every step of the way, but she just kept moving forwards and taking micro steps until she got what she wanted. The way I see this, is that she wasn’t fearless, she was just fearing a little less with every step. Look at this: when I say “I AM FEARLESS” I’m not saying I don’t fear, I’m saying “I just fear – LESS”. You like that one right? Have it, use it as your own!
So how do we do it? How do we begin changing our lives so that fear doesn’t stand in our way? The answer? We create a PVS.
To do this you need to do 3 KEY things — that are crucial to the level of fulfilment we experience.
Step 1. Let’s explore our stories and drop the baggage.
We all just want to be a little happier, lead a little bit more of a simpler life, and be a bit more fulfilled, right? The problem is we’re often walking through life lacking passion, purpose and fulfillment. Sound familiar?
It could be that your stories from your past aren’t adding anything to your life. Maybe they’re just not working all that well for you, not serving you, and not worthy of you.
You see, we’re often walking around with our same old stories. Stories that haven’t ended well for us. It’s all pretty heavy baggage, and not only is it weighing us down, it’s slowing us down. Holding us back.
We hold onto the memories of all the times we were rejected or wronged, or whatever else. What use is this? What are we carrying these around with us?
How about if we sort through these stories, extract the lessons, and move forward with less baggage, and more ease.
What if we make an effort to make our stories end well? Then we’re left with only useful luggage. Light luggage. Hand luggage.
Remember if your story hasn’t ended well, your story hasn’t ended.
Let’s flip it around so you have a blockbuster ending!
Step 2. Embrace the 2 G’s – grow and give.
Here’s how we can fill up on the 2P’s: passion and purpose. Tony Robbins, my guru, you know who I mean? American self help dude, 7ft tall, huge hands, booming voice? Anyway Tony suggests that it’s difficult to be truly happy and fulfilled unless we’re growing and giving. He calls this growth and contribution. I call these the two G’s: growing and giving!
Growing and giving keep us on track for fulfillment. It helps us avoid waking up one day having achieved everything we thought we should, only to be left feeling unfulfilled and lacking direction.
It’s the 2G’s to top up your 2P’s.
Step 3. Set micro missions for grabbing the low hanging fruit.
We’re told to find our passion and purpose and then “apparently” we’ll never have to work a day in our lives and we’ll live happily ever after.
Here’s a little secret.
I’ve worked with 1000’s of clients, and you know how many have found their “ultimate calling”? A handful. The rest of us are all hunting for our purposes. Looking here there and everywhere. High and low. We climb mountains, sit with monks. All this and we still can’t find our purpose. Where’s it even hiding?
You can spend a lot of time figuring out your one single life purpose. This is a huge thing, right? Feeling as if we should all have some single drive pushing us through life and feeling unfulfilled because the enormity of it. We can just all feel a bit lost and scared to get it wrong. How do we know if we’ll even get it right?
But I say you don’t necessarily need to have a Steve Jobs, Mother Theresa or Barack Obama monumental purpose, and you definitely don’t always need to know exactly where you are heading.
We love making life complicated — Let’s just keep it simple.
I’ve found many of us may actually be better off with setting a few micro-missions. a few little-life-purposes, small goals and simple wins that involve just following your curiosity and highest excitement on a daily basis. Smaller things you could be focussing on which are far easier and realistic to realise. Easy. Free. SIMPLE.
So let’s forget the idea of your ‘ultimate purpose’. It’s too much pressure. Instead let’s focus on creating a collection of mini adventures, short stories that add up to create an epic life. Let’s set micro missions for the lower hanging fruit.
A few true stories.
Speaking of epic stories, I want to share the personal stories of three clients I’ve worked with. Some with small simple issues, and others with much larger life-impinging ones. But all at a crossroads and not certain on which way to turn.
I want to show you how discovering their PVS added purpose into their lives and increased their level of fulfillment. It’s pretty epic!
You will notice that it is often by turning to our past life lessons, we can take steps to improving our life. Just a small note before I go on: some of the identifying details (like names, location, etc) have been changed to protect privacy.
Ready? Lets see how we can flip our stories into our glory.
Story 1: Guilt-free baking.
As her kids grew more independent, stay-at-home mum Genine found herself at loose ends. She didn’t really know what to do with her time. She was bored, a bit unmotivated, and lacking some purpose.
Genine came to me hoping to make a change. So we sat down and started brainstorming. When was she last excited? When was she last in flow? If she had a day off, what would she do? What does she love doing? As a kid, what would she do for fun? And Genine’s responses kept coming back to baking. She was crazy for pastries!
“Then why don’t you bake?” I asked.
“If I make pastries, I eat them and put on weight. It’s a really bad cycle, so I’ve stopped. It’s unhealthy for me and my family and it makes me feel guilty. I’ve just quit,” she answered.
Now I understand Genine’s reasoning. She didn’t want to hurt her health or her family’s health. But I encouraged her to think about other mothers in similar situations. Isn’t it possible they might want healthy pastries too? Healthy pastry recipes perhaps? Healthy pastry products? We all love a pastry, right?
“Would you enjoy researching healthy pastry recipes? I mean starting small, typing words into Google, like ‘sugar-free pastry’ or ‘healthy pastry’. Is that something that interests you?” I asked her.
Genine’s body language changed. She started smiling. “Yes!” She said. “Absolutely!”
“Ok, so. My name is…”
“And who do you want to help?”
“I want to help people enjoy pastries, guilt free.”
Just like that, we found her personal vision statement. It’s a sentence that helps explain what she wants at the moment, and helps her create small micro missions that will drive her toward feeling more fulfilled.
She imagined helping just a few women enjoy pastries again. It excited her. It motivated her. It brought her to tears.
I’m Genine and I want to help others feel less guilty about eating pastries.
Genine’s micro mission — get lost on the net, it’s free.
Start small. Research recipes first and figure out what else is out there. Bake a few healthy pastries for herself, her family or her friends. Then see what unfolds.
Key lessons — what’s your pain point?
Look at where your interests collide with your pain points. If you want something but you can’t have it, is there a way to make a small shift? For Genine, this meant focusing on healthy pastries rather than just pastries, allowing her to break the cycle of guilt while also doing something she passionately enjoys.
Start small. Genine isn’t out to change the world. Maybe one day her pastries will do just that, but for now it’s all about baby steps. When we set goals too big, often we give up before we even start. We need to allow ourselves to take many micro-moves to achieve our vision — and celebrate every small win along the way.
Story 2. An addict’s next hit.
Tom, a senior businessman, was based in Hong Kong. He was hugely successful, had been profiled in quite a few magazines, was wealthy and had all the trimmings of success. But behind the scenes, this just wasn’t the case.
In reality, Tom was a recovering alcoholic who had started filling the void inside himself not just with booze, but also with a now toxic relationship. He felt isolated, lacking friends or any real connection with anyone. Yet he didn’t know how to change things.
“I hate my life, my job, my world, my city. I just live to work and work to live,” he told me during one of our Skype sessions.
“Why do you feel like you can’t make new friends?” I asked.
“I don’t have the social skills to do that. When everyone else was learning how to interact, I was busy getting drunk. The result is I just don’t know how to be, well, normal.”
“Do you think other addicts are having similar issues?”
“Definitely!” He answered. “We do therapy and get better but then when the course, session or 12 steps have ended, we don’t know what to do. We fall back on those addictions because it’s always there for us, always worked for us. So many people are like this.”
So we did the same exercise. I asked him: “What’s your name?”
“And who do you want to help?”
“I want to help recovering addicts feel connected and empowered.”
That’s his pain point, something he was struggling with in real time.
“And I think I can. I think I can do something that could make a difference.”
Suddenly Tom started to discover a reason to wake up the next morning, and the next, and then next. We found his micro-mission.
My name’s Tom, and I want to help recovering addicts feel connected and empowered.
Tom’s actions — start simple, really simple.
Create a ‘roadmap to recovery’ but start small. I didn’t tell him to go out and quit his high-powered job or launch a post-AA company. Instead he decided to take his phone and record two minutes of advice he wished he would have had, transcribe this bit of advice, put it in an envelope and leave it somewhere in the city.
Key lessons — Don’t do perfect, do what lights you up.
You don’t have to be a perfect package. If you’re battling your own demons or still struggling through something, that’s absolutely fine. It makes you more human and more authentic. It may help others relate to your story and find their own strength.
Tom had success, but he wasn’t happy. This is an important one. Success can have two roots. We can feel successful either by achieving a lot or through finding fulfilment. Achievements are tied to things society expects of us, things like Tom’s big house, fast car and high-paying career. But because it’s not linked to what necessarily want, when we focus on achievements we run the risk of waking up one day, miserable and asking where everything went wrong.
Fulfilment is more about pursuing what lights us up. What makes us happy. What drives us. It’s not a certificate we can put on the wall, but it is something tied to pursuing our passions and honouring our values. I’ve written an entire book on this, so won’t go into too much depth here. But we see the achievement vs fulfilment battle in this instance.
Story 3. She couldn’t go on.
Rebecca was a beautiful, smart, fit, intelligent 50-year-old woman with a great career in journalism, and a beautiful mother of two daughters. She had achieved so many things in her life. The problem was, for as long as she could remember, she just didn’t feel great about herself. She didn’t feel as proud as she deserved to feel. Rather unhappy, like something had been missing.
She was at a crossroads and didn’t know which way to turn. I helped her create her personal vision statement, so that with just a few words she could get her life back on track.
She wanted to know how she could live with more passion, purpose and fulfillment each and every day.
When we spoke, she didn’t talk about these amazing things. She often mentioned the disappointment she’d felt with the relationship with her Mother. She had received very little support and encouragement throughout her life growing up.
I was writing it all down, offering up positive suggestions along the way, but literally everything was just bad. It got to the point where she just stopped me.
“I know what you’re trying to do but I can’t be bothered with any of it,” she said.
“Why not?” I asked.
“Phil, I’ve been knocked down so many times that every time I stand up, it’s a little bit harder. It’s got to the point where I just can’t anymore. I can’t get up again. I give up, I surrender.” She was ready to quit on life. As she told me this, she started crying.
I steered the conversation back towards her two daughters, something she had previously spoken fondly of. And again, she started to talk me through some of the pain and hiccups of her past.
Five years when her mother passed away it was a huge relief.
“As a kid, I was the biggest inconvenience to my mum. I was never enough. She didn’t have any love, time or energy for me. She was always too busy.”
“What about your last conversation before she passed? How was that?”
During Rebecca’s mother’s final moments, on her deathbed, she had asked Rebecca’s to write down a story, words of love to share with Rebecca’s daughter. Then the same for her other daughter. When she finished doing that, Rebecca sat there expecting a third to come. “One for me” she thought, but it didn’t. It never came. Nothing. Instead, she got ‘As for you? I have absolutely nothing to say to you’.
That right there was the end of their mother-daughter relationship. Summed up into quite simply… ‘nothing’.
Rebecca’s story hadn’t ended very well, right?
She had never felt enough.
When Rebecca told me this, I started tearing up. But I firmly believe if the story hasn’t ended well, it hasn’t ended. Rebecca was a motivating, strong woman who deserved so much more than the hurt she was carrying around. She was worthy of better.
If that played out as a movie, and the credits came up, and the movie ended, that would have made for a horrible film. IMDB rating 2 out of 10. Luckily we always have a chance to make the story end well, to make it a blockbuster.
After we had explored Rebecca’s story I asked Rebecca what she would have wanted her mum to think of her.
“That I was beautiful, strong and that she was proud of me” she said.
I decided to see how we could change Rebecca’s story by using it to help others.
Rebecca loved writing, so I asked if she could spend just five minutes a day writing some of words of support, encouragement, acknowledgement for her daughters. The kinds of things she wished her mother had said to her. Little notes for their bedtime maybe? Or at the end of the school week.
Rebecca’s whole body language shifted. She smiled… “I guess that could be kind of nice. Yes, I want to do this, yes.”
Contributing and helping others, her two daughters, done.
It was now time to set Rebecca a micro mission that would radically change her story.
Rebecca, was the kind of mum that all her kid’s friends related to. The kind of mum that they’d go to for advice, girl stuff, “boy stuff”, the kinds of things teenagers want to know but are too embarrassed to ask!
“What if,” I suggested, “you kept all of these notes, wrote a few little stories, words of advice, little lessons… and one day collated them to create a book of inspiring stories”. It could even end up helping and inspiring all children, girls and boys alike.
It was in this moment that Rebecca realised that this could reframe the story with her mum into something that happened for her rather than to her. This is how she would be able to move on, forgive and wake up with purpose everyday.
Honestly, it was like the power had switched back on and she had come back to life.
We had set Rebecca a micro mission that was easy and exciting for her.
Now for the game changer.
This is where the magic happened.
I asked Rebecca the three simple questions. The three questions to reveal her personal vision statement. Want to know what they are? Here they come!
1. My name is?… “Rebecca.”
2. And you want to help?… “I want to help young women”
3. To feel?… “To feel they are 100 percent enough.”
Time to put it all together.
“I’m Rebecca and I help women feel 100 percent enough.”
That was it. A personal vision statement. Her PVS. A few words that now serve as Rebecca’s life GPS to guide her daily, done. Whenever her energy is low, she’s lacking motivation or just not feeling so great she just needs to do something, anything, that moves her mildly, to moderately, to significantly closer to staying true to her PVS. Perhaps thanking the girl behind the counter at Starbucks for her amazing service, complementing the commuter on the train for her beautiful hair, telling her daughters they’re beautiful. Easy. Free. Simple.
Rebecca’s actions — share your lessons and stories
Start small. Rebecca decided to write down a lesson to share with her daughters every day. She won’t need to spend more than five minutes on it. When she’s comfortable, she could compile the lessons into a book or start a blog. Or she could write them on paper and share them with other women.
Key lessons — Your story needs to end well.
If the story hasn’t ended well, it hasn’t ended. When we’re on our deathbed we want to be proud of the life we’ve lived. Try to look through the memories of pain, of struggles and darkness, and find the lessons hidden inside. Surrender the hurt but keep the learning.
Writing and sharing notes can be incredibly powerful. I recommend trying this with any piece of advice you wish you would have known. It takes just a few minutes and might change someone’s day — or their world. Just grab paper, grab an envelope and go for it. Forget grammar or punctuation, just write your truths.
Your own personal vision statement.
Ok. I’ve gone through three examples here of people working through their past stories to figure out what’s right for them, right now.
So what’s right for you?
It goes something like this: Hi, my name is — and I help — to feel…
Don’t worry too much about how you fill in those blanks. I’ll explain things as we go along. Just know that if you stick with me, if you sit down for five minutes with this quick challenge, we will delve into your passions. We’ll explore what lights you up. We’ll start to understand not where you want to be in five years, or 10 years, but where you want to be now.
Ready to find out just how much simpler, easier and better life can be? Let’s jump in.
3 powerful questions.
There are a few questions you need to think about and find some answers to, that will help you figure out exactly what your PVS is.
Let’s start with just an easy five-minute brainstorm. It’s fine if you don’t have paper (who reads online with a notepad handy?!). The whole point of this is just to get those creative energies going. It’s step one of this epic life hack.
Question 1: What excites you?
Think about what makes you happy, sparks joy and gets you in the groove. When were you last happy? Give me a moment, a memory. Was it when you were volunteering at the animal shelter? Chatting to strangers in the cafe? Sat around a table with your family? Think of when you last felt that jolt of joy. Then think of three more times.
When are you most ‘on a roll’, in flow… when the hours just slip by? When you were so immersed in something. I don’t care if it’s an exercise class, a good book, a baking project or even while restructuring a business. All that matters is it needs to be something you enjoyed, something you could have done for hours.
What are you curious about? Raises your interest? Think about what you’d do if you had a day of to be, do anything? If you had one entire day where you were free to pursue your interests, what would you do? This is a biggie. Would you go sailing and learn to fix a boat? Would you see close friends then teach a spin class? What would your perfect day involve?
Question 2: What can you contribute?
Remember we can fast-track our way to the 2P’s: passion and purpose by doing the 2G’s: growing and giving. So why not do it with something you love to do yourself?
Think about what skill you have that could help others? What experiences have you had that uniquely qualify you to help others?
What’s one lesson you really want you share? If you could teach someone one thing, however big or small, that you wish you would have known yourself, what would it be? I don’t care if it’s a lesson you want to give to yourself 10 years younger, or if it’s something you think a few folks should know. It doesn’t need to be huge. Actually, smaller can often be better.
What are you good at? When you’re on your deathbed, what are three things you think you’ll be the most proud of? Right here, right now, what are those three things? It may be raising a beautiful family, travelling the world, making your sibling happy — whatever.
Question 3: What’s your biggest learning?
What’s that one lesson you’ve learnt in life that you could teach others? What’s something you’ve overcome yourself that’s worth sharing? Something that has challenged, and changed you?
Think about a pain point. It doesn’t matter if this is an enduring family drama that stretches back 50 years or a relationship that’s been crushing in the last month. It might be an eating disorder, a fear of commitment, an addiction — anything. Just think through the first struggle that springs to mind. That’s your pain point of the moment.
Creating your PVS.
Now here’s the biggie. Here’s where we get to the game changer.
Now you’ve thought about these things, you’re ready and well equipped to answer the following 3 key questions that will reveal your PVS.
So tell me:
1. What’s your name?
2. Who could you help?
3. And how do you want them to feel?
The result should be simple: ‘Hi, my name is — and I help — to feel/do/achieve/etc — .’
This is your personal vision statement.
That’s it. A personal vision statement. A few words that can now serve as your life GPS to help guide you daily.
Actioning your PVS.
Write it down. Stick it up on your wall. On your fridge. Look at these few words when you need a dose of passion and purpose. Use these words to help keep your drive alive.
Ultimately, we all have things in our past that are really great. These have taught us so much, showed us what we’re best at, where we’re the happiest, where we can achieve. We also have baggage. But it’s about looking at these things and seeing how we can flip our pain into passion and our story into glory.
Like I said before, this process isn’t about discovering a huge life goal or overarching aim. This is your vision statement. Keep your actions small and focus on the mini-purposes. Use your personal vision statement to create small and easy micro missions. Keep it super simple. Achieving micro missions is the easiest and fastest way to head in the right direction.
If all the little conversations you have, all the small things you do, and the adventure you experience are strung together, you’d create a colourful timeline of cool moments, what’s wrong with that?
That’s the Forrest Gump of lives right there; remember that film? “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get!”. My favourite film ever! Well, Tom Hanks did a lot of surprisingly cool things over the span of his life and that added up to become a powerful story, right? A blockbuster.
I want to stress this. Imagine your story is played out as a movie. In the movie of your life, you’re the director, the producer, the actor, the audience. You play every role. It’s up to you to make the film amazing. Make it great. Make it powerful. If your story isn’t turning out too great at the moment, just know all the experiences that have happened, have happened for a reason. Your story is your glory.
What happened with Rebecca?
During my last conversation with Rebecca, just a few weeks ago, she asked…
“Phil, what if people don’t think my story is good enough to share in a book? Am I good enough to even do this?”.
In creeps that thing called fear again. A big old road block that stops us in our tracks. Threatening to hold us back from changing our stories. How do you overcome it? Take radical action!
So I said “Rebecca, your story is 100% good enough. And you know what? It’s that good, it’s so good, that I’m gonna take it to TEDx.”
So that why I took the story to TEDx in December 2016 with ‘Get your mojo back with just a few words’.
I thank you Rebecca. Your story has helped more people than we’ll ever know.
Just imagine, one day, Rebecca may be a grandmother in her comfy chair, sharing her stories and life lessons with her grandchildren… just like my grandma did. But for now I’m fast tracking the process, because her story deserves to be shared today, here and now! And so too does yours.
So there you go guys…
My grandma crossed the Atlantic to build a better life for her kids. Genine is helping others bake guilt free. Tom is helping others feel connected and empowered. Rebecca is now on her way to turning her story into her glory also.
And now what about you?
Get out there and 1) follow your highest excitement. Follow your curiosity and do a little more of what you love. Of what lights you up. 2) Think about what you could contribute and how you’ll be helping others. 3) Think about what lessons you’ve learnt that are worth sharing. Be fearless, and just fear-less.
Create your own PVS 1) What’s your name, 2) who do you help, and 3) how do you make them feel?.
Start creating micro missions that take you closer to creating an epic life story. Keep your missions easy, small and simple. Doable. Remember just do something for 1% of your day can make your whole day 100% better!
This, guys, is how, with just a few words, you can get your mojo back!
“My name is Phil, and I help other people realize just how much easier and better things can be.”
Phil Anthony M