A well thought out vision, one that considers the totality of your life, will serve you well–especially when you are met with conflict or major life decisions!
So, how does one go about creating a vision for their life? Good question! Most of us have never done this kind of work before can seem daunting. This is why I decided to write this little “how to” on creating an effective vision. Let’s begin. First, read through each exercise. Do them all, or choose the ones that most appeal to you. I suggest at least 3, including number 5. The more you do the better, as each one will contribute something to the others, but it really is up to you! Just like the workshop–and life–what you get out is relative to what you put in!
1. Start at the Very End.
This one is a little confronting for people who may not deal well with the idea of their own mortality, but let’s face it~we are all going to die, sooner or later! But, as the quote goes, “are we truly going to live”? Yes, you are and your vision is going to show you the way! Imagine that you are able to be at your own funeral. Who is there? What are they saying about you? Think in terms of what you would want them to say, as this is an exercise in creating a vision for the person you are committed to being, not an exercise in beating yourself up for falling short of your, or anyone else’s, expectations! Another approach to this exercise is to imagine that you are able to do a review of your life after you have taken your last breath. What was your life like? Was it everything you wanted it to be? What did you like about it? What would you change if you had the opportunity? Again, think about the roles you filled, the people you surrounded yourself with, how you spent your time etc. …and don’t forget the values you lived by!
2. Start at the Very Beginning.
Think back to when you were a child. What did you like to do? What kinds of activities did you do and what kinds of games did you play (dress-up, building with lego or blocks, drawing, reading, sports etc.)? What did you imagine yourself doing when you grew up? What were your favorite school subjects? Did you play sports? What were your hobbies? Where were your favorite places to go? What sense do you have of yourself as a child (free spirit, introspective, strong-willed, loving, helpful, outgoing, shy)? Also think about the things that you didn’t like to do? Why didn’t you like to do them? What things did you always wish you could do, that you felt you couldn’t?
3. Your Ideal Self.
What energizes and inspires you? What are your natural talents (those things you do that seem effortless, that you may even take for granted)? What would you like more of in your life? What would you like less of? Who would you most like to be like? Why? What personal qualities and characteristics (in yourself and in others) appeal to you?
4. Your Dream Life.
What do you want more than anything else in this world? If you had no obligations, constraints, or obstacles and your resources were unlimited, what would you do? Where would you be? Who would you be with? What do your surroundings look like? What pursuits would you devote your time to? What do you most like to talk about? What motivates you? What could you spend an entire day doing and not grow tired, bored, drained from or frustrated with? Think beyond your response and answer the question of why in regard of your responses. Think about what it is about that person that you would like to spend time with them; what is it about that location that you are ever-inspired, peaceful, energized, etc.
5. Your Values Inventory.
Using the list provided, highlight the attributes, qualities and values that appeal most to you. Cross out the ones you don’t like. Add any that you don’t see listed that appeal to you. Use a dictionary or use your own interpretation to define what these words (values) mean to you. Group similar value words together to form a value concept. Use one or two defined values to represent your value concept. To help you with your definitions and to develop your values concepts, it will help to think about what behaviors, actions and ways of being that a person with (insert value here) will be. For example, I value Integrity. The dictionary definition of integrity is “the state of being whole and undivided; the condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction; the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; uprightness. My personal definition of a person with integrity is a person who honors themselves as their word, they do what they say by when they said they would do it, they practice absolute honesty, they are the change they wish to see in the world, they think about the impact they have on others and the world around them and they take responsibility for their actions. Integrity is the foundation for all of my other values; in other words, without integrity, my other values risk being compromised.
6. Identify your Domains.
A domain, by definition, is an area of territory owned or controlled by a ruler or government. Therefor, your domains are the areas of your life that are controlled by you! What are those domains? Some ideas to get you rolling are Family, Friend, Career, Spirituality, etc. Some of these may be broken down into sub-domains, or you can separate them out as individual domains~your choice. For instance, Family can be divided into sub-domains of Partner, Parent, Son/Daughter, Sister/Brother, etc. The more areas you identify, the more areas you will have to support you.
7. Vision Abstract Collage.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words! Using old magazines, tear out pictures that represent what you envision or want for your life. You can include personal photographs as well, creating your collage using the traditional cut and paste method, or create a digital collage, or perhaps a scrapbook or even a photo collage using a collage frame (with multiple openings). You can draw, write original work or include quotes that inspire you~anything that conjures up a rich mental image of the vision you have for your life. Think about the story told by each image you incorporate into your collage. Use each element of your collage to draw out your values.
When considering your vision, you also want to consider the values that you have inherited (from your family of origin, from your faith or spiritual based affiliations, from your peers, from your culture, etc.). Some of these values will “make the cut” but some might not. That is the thing about your vision~it is your vision!
Finally, As you are developing your vision, you want to keep in mind that, just as life is a process, so to is creating your vision: As you evolve, so will your vision. There is no “right” or “wrong” vision to have, only one that is right or wrong for you! Be honest with yourself, be true to yourself. If you are including something because you feel you should, or if it doesn’t feel right~it likely isn’t.