A personal vision is a picture of our future self taking root in the present. It must be inspirational and energizing. It needs to have a kind of power over you, so that when you look at it or see it, it takes hold, you feel as though you are drawing it towards you.
When I was a student of dance in high school, I would always answer the question, "What would you like to do when you grow up?" with the answer, "I want to be a dancer." My mother, being the wise coach she is, would always say, "You are a dancer now."
She said this for a couple of reasons. First, in the arts—and especially in dance—our time to perform is limited and never guaranteed, no matter how much talent you have. She knew, wisely, that some day I might turn from the path of dance and want to do other things, but that making this transition would be more difficult if I didn't feel fulfilled in my goal.
Her encouragement helped me feel fulfilled by the dance opportunities I had in the present, not just the ones in the future. And she was right. I did my best performing in high school—performing three times at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, including under the direction of Ms. Debbie Allen—and danced my favorite works in the most beautiful venues during my college years. If I had waited to believe I was truly a dancer until after I finished my training, it would have been too late. I would have missed out on truly appreciating all my experiences and likely feel like a failure, when I decided to transition my career shortly after college.
The second reason she said this was because when we bring our future desires into the present, we naturally start operating from this future place, making moves and taking the steps we need to bring this future closer.
In a previous blog, we talked about the power of positive psychology.
Laws of attraction author Bob Proctor explains, "Everything that's coming into your life, you are attracting into your life. And it's attracted to you by virtue of the images you're holding in your mind. It's what you're thinking. You are attracting whatever is going on in your mind," (quote from The Vision Board by Joyce Schwarz, forward by Bob Proctor, contributor to The Secret).
So whatever it is that you want to be, start telling yourself that you are that. Right now.
Just say, "I am."
And in doing so, your path is clear, and it is laid in front you. Now let's deep dive into forming your vision and supporting goals. In a later blog, we will continue the journey into designing the road map to get there, but for now, let's just imagine.
Recommended Pre-Read: The Wheel of Life
Complete the "Wheel of Life" worksheet to identify the areas of your life that you would like to bring into your vision.
Try this: Personal Visioning (10-15 minutes)
What would you like to cultivate for yourself in the next six to 12 months? Feel free to make your timeline longer, but if this is your first time creating a vision, start small.
Take a moment and brainstorm as many ideas for yourself as you can. You can do this in your journal or on post-its.
Use the reflections from The Wheel of Life activity to guide your thinking.
Write each idea as if it is happening now.
Include words that express how you feel in this idea. This will root the idea more deeply in your being.
Include sensory words that express what you see, touch, and hear. This will make it more real.
Your visions should be framed in the positive. Instead of "I am losing weight," consider, "I am healthy and my body is thriving." That simple shift of using positive language will promote the positive thinking needed to bring this vision to life.
I am in a new position, and I feel great about my new responsibilities.
I am working on a yoga certification, and I feel challenged, in a good way.
I am spending more time with my family and am excited about the change in my home life.
And if those inner critics come up (read the part on "negativity bias" and judgments), this is your time to notice them and put them aside, because right now, it's time to dream. It's time to attract what you want, not what you don't.
Set a timer, and take five to 10 minutes to come up with as many ideas as you can.
Take a look at what you brainstormed. Circle the top three visions. If you have some that fit together, group them and re-write so that you have three.
It's important to not pack your vision. We accomplish more by working on less, so try to focus on what you are truly drawn to.
Also, this is a good time to do a reality check. Is this really a vision that you can accomplish in six to 12 months? If not, decide whether you will narrow the vision or lengthen your time frame.
Home-joy: Create a vision statement that includes these three ideas. Spent some time on this, so that you feel good about the statement and how it reads. If it inspires you and gives you a good feeling when you read it out loud, you probably have hit the right statement.
Example: I am in a new position, where I am motivating and empowering others. Through empowering others, I have achieved more time freedom and am taking that time to make a healthy dinner and help my kids with their homework.
When you get more skilled in the art of visioning, I recommend doing the "Two Lives Obituaries" activity from The Bullet Journal Method. It will really cement your vision for your life overall in a very mortal way.
Try this: Personal Goal-Setting
Now it's time to come up with some goals that support your vision. Goals are what we look at to know that our vision has come to life. For example, if our vision is "having a fun family vacation to New York," than the goals might be "ate a hot dog in central park" or "saw a Broadway play."
Goals are specific, actionable, measurable, and positively-framed. Ask yourself, "If I achieved this vision, what would I see or notice?"
And instead of "I've lost 20 pounds," say, "I've achieved a healthy weight."
Instead of "I eat healthier," be specific. "I enjoy cooking healthy meals at home."
If you can't "check the box" on your goal, it is not specific and measurable enough.
Brainstorm several ideas. Try to create a list of at least 10. Then whittle them down to your top three to five goals that really drive at the future you're trying to create.
Also, don't worry about action planning just yet. Actions are different. They are the steps to achieving your goals. The action plan might include your weekly exercise routine, but the goal is the output of doing the exercise, getting healthy.
We will post a worksheet and road map activity in a later blog, but for now, put your vision statement and goals in a visible place (like sticky-notes on your wall), and consider adding images that represent your vision.
I recommend putting up a bulletin board in your office or kitchen, and overtime, add images from magazines or Pinterest that give you the same feeling you got when you wrote your statement.
Vision Board Starter Kit:
Magazines or Pinterest
A printer (or your local Kinkos)
The Vision Board by Joyce Schwarz
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
Appreciative Intelligence by Tojo Thatchenkery
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