A few months ago I completed an exercise that I can confidently say changed my life forever: the way I think, operate, and make decisions. It’s a total game changer. I’m excited to share my experience with you, as well as how to implement this insight into action right away.
The exercise involves creating a vision for your life, a compelling future that both excites and scares you.
Wait! Before rolling your eyes, shutting your brain off, or saying “I’ve heard this before,” hear me out:
Common knowledge is NOT common practice.
You’re smart. I know you are. Of course you think about your future and strive to make the best decisions for yourself, future and loved ones. You know you should be setting goals, staying healthy, practicing work-life balance, working hard, etc. But what if you set it all aside for a moment, brought all of the spinning plates to a halt, and tried on something new, something truly inspiring to live for?
As someone seriously interested in personal development, I’m embarrassed to admit that I waited so long to do this crucial work. I thought I knew what I envisioned for my future. I kept the ideas floating around in my head, but never actually took the time to bring them to life by putting pen to paper.
The truth of the matter is this:
Most of us don’t know WHERE we are going, WHAT we are working for, or what we even WANT.
We kind-of know the answers to these questions, saying things like “happiness” and “freedom”, but we rarely have the confidence and clarity it takes to move forward in the direction we truly desire. Our lack of clarity keeps us stuck or moving much slower than necessary. In some cases we want so many things, or have so many options, that in fear of losing or missing out on one, we don’t take committed action towards any! Keeping our options open can be good practice, but it can also keep us from making our greatest mark on the world.
I recently took the time to write out everything I could ever think of wanting in my life, from the big things all the way to the smallest details. I wrote out how I wanted to feel, who I wanted to be, what I wanted to accomplish, etc. in every aspect of my life. The whole process stretched out over a week, still growing, changing, and expanding to this day.
I started dreaming of my future from what I thought was possible based upon my past, and what I had always expected from life. It looked pretty good to be honest, but it was missing something important. It lacked fire, inspiration, and impact, an unmet hunger within me.
So I pushed myself to dream bigger, to stretch what I thought possible, and found it incredibly difficult! The mind LOVES to stay safe, and it loves having habits. What the brain doesn’t like is CHANGE. It creates all kind of stories and fear when we tell it to think in new ways it hasn’t yet experienced. It surprised me how painstaking it was to write a big dream down on paper that only I would see. I wasn’t claiming it in front of anyone but myself, but the fear it created was very real.
Eventually I began playfully creating from a place of unlimited possibility and abundance, just for fun! If I could have anything, if I could do anything, if I could be anything what would it be?! And the three greatest questions of all:
What do I care about, and how do I want to CONTRIBUTE?
WHY? What does this mean? Why is it important?
What is the IMPACT? On myself, others, loved ones, the world
THAT is the game changer. Make your vision bigger than yourself. In looking and giving outwardly, you are consistently given all and more than you could ever need, ask, or dream of inwardly.
Two things that bring us the “happiness” we constantly seek are this:
To live a full life we must consistently strive for both. This means stepping outside of our comfort zones and calming the ego on a daily basis. The moment we get too comfortable or start going through the motions, the moment we make our lives only about ourselves, is the moment we feel unfulfilled, stuck, anxious, depressed.
Just as a ship leaves the harbor with a map and idea of it's destination, so must you with your Life Vision. Without it how could you know where to go? When to say yes? When to say no? Your vision is a stake set in your compelling future, set as a landmark to where you’re headed. Simply knowing WHAT you want, and WHY you want it will set you apart from the pack. It can save you years of wasted time, regret, etc.
Clarity and Choice are powerful forces.
What does this look like for you? Carve out time and gift yourself the experience of creating a vision and compelling future from a place of unlimited potential, opportunity, and abundance. Look at each part of your life (Personal growth, Relationships, Career, Financial, Fun/Adventure, Health, Contribution) and decide what you want and why you want it. How do you want to feel? What does your life look like? Who are you? What does this mean for you, your family, the world? Statistics show that by simply getting your thoughts and ideas out of your head and on paper, you are 40% more likely to achieve them! This exercise is powerful because it’s the first action taken towards making your dreams a reality.
Just get something down on paper. Don't worry about committing to any of it yet. Allow yourself to open and dream. You can (and I encourage to) go back and edit your vision along your journey. By writing your dreams for the future, you begin to emotionally connect with them and commit to what's most important. Everything else eventually fades away through this continued process.
When you create a vision and make choices for how you want to live, the world conspires in your favor. Knowing what you want opens up your eyes and mind to opportunities you may not have otherwise seen before. But your vision is not enough, you must know why it’s so important. Your WHY is the juice, the unlimited supply of motivation, that will carry and pull you forward through all odds and adversity.
“When you are inspired…dormant forces, faculties, and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” - Patanjali
Take action now in the comments below by telling me (1) what stands out to you here the most, and (2) how you will begin constructing your empowered vision today.
I’d love to hear from you! Let me know how it goes, as well as any insights you’ve had along the way.