Dreaming is a natural part of life. We’re born with the ability to imagine and see what doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, the busyness of life and the demands of “growing up” often cause our mental stage to go dark. As a result, we live each day without focus on the future or hope for brighter days.
When our imaginations do come out to play, it’s often just to wish we could be someone else, live somewhere else or, at the very least, do something else. Whether this lack of dreaming is caused by fear of the unknown, feelings of hopelessness from past letdowns or just plain old ignorance of its value, our imaginations have become underdeveloped and under used.
If you want this to be a truly amazing year, it’s time to reawaken your imagination and reign it back in with renewed focus.
What kind of imagination do I mean? Vision.
Why You Need Vision
Among many great reasons to live with vision, here are three to consider:
- Your brain seeks to build what your mind sees most
Almost all of your day-to-day life is processed and managed by your subconscious mind. It acts like a filtration system that monitors everything around you, bringing forward only what it thinks you want or need.This is how you can drive mindlessly and suddenly become aware that the green light ahead of you turned amber. It’s also how you notice the sound of your name from across a noisy room or the magazine cover on a cluttered rack that promises fast weight loss; a problem you just happen to be interested in right now.Your brain is on a constant mission to find opportunities to advance, as well as to solve problems that are getting in your way. Have you ever had a eureka moment when a great idea popped into your head? You were obsessing about a problem with no success, and then suddenly, there was your answer.When you have a crystal-clear and compelling vision, you tap into your brain’s power to seek out and solve. When vision is missing, this power goes largely untapped.
- Vision directs your daily decisions
How do you know if you have a good idea?The only real way to judge an idea is by its ability to solve a clear problem. Life is full of things that feel good, but many of them won’t lead you somewhere meaningful.When you know where you want to go, you have a way to identify the right decisions along the way.
- Vision injects hope and positive feelings into the process
Diving right into change with a few simple goals can seem like a good idea, but you might find something is missing. That something is emotion.A goal that promises to give you something you want can feel great at first, but that buzz quickly fades. I like to think of a goal as a “promise with a price tag.” It’s an item on your list that you’d like to have, but it comes at a cost of changing habits, friends or something else that doesn’t feel so great.Goals are an important management system, but you need vision for real success. Without real hope that the future has something great in store, the process of change can become too dry and uninspiring to reach the finish line.A vision that moves you emotionally has the power to keep you going when times get tough.
What Is Vision?
Now that you know why vision is a good idea, let’s consider a simple definition.
In their book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, authors Jim Collins and Jerry Porras coin what they call, Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs).
Collins and Porras maintain that organizations need to set goals beyond simple tactical and short-term objectives and instead recommend setting “…an audacious 10-to-30-year goal to progress towards an envisioned future.” While the authors were writing about companies, the same principle holds true for individuals.
In short, vision is an inner picture of a big, bright future.
Whether you want to land a new job, lose some weight or improve a relationship, you need to see the end before you start, and it needs to be big enough to both excite and scare you.
How to Create Vision
Now it’s time to start crafting your vision, starting from the year theme you uncovered in step one. If you need a refresher, you can read the post, How to Find Life Purpose.
Now take your theme and ask yourself:
- “If I woke up tomorrow and everything was perfect, how would I know?”
- “What exactly does my theme mean to me?”
- “If I painted its portrait, what would it look like?”
- “What’s the end goal, or the ultimate result of focusing on my theme for as long as it takes?”
In addition to being big, hairy and audacious, here are a few other elements of a great vision.
Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. Remember, your brain is seeking to produce what you see most, and if all you see is problems, you have nowhere else to go.
The more clearly you can see the end result, the more compelling it becomes. Make your vision as crystal-clear as possible.
- FIRST PERSON
You’re writing about your life, so fill it full of I’s, me’s and we’s.
- PRESENT TENSE
You want your brain to take ownership of the vision and support you in the process of attaining it. Thinking about the future as a distant place is nothing more than wishful thinking.
Do you actually want it? Are you really willing to fight for it? Can you feel it in your core?
Example Vision Statements:
To help with your vision casting, here are nine sample statements using different life areas, like the quality of a relationship, where you live or work, and behaviours that are now effortless habits.
Note: I have given various examples, but in your case, each statement should paint the picture of a single theme.
“I have a passionate love and devotion for my spouse that makes me excited to come home from work every night.”
“I work as a consultant to the top organizations in my region, including Acme Inc. and Vandelay Industries.”
- BEHAVIOURS / HABITS
“I wake up each day ready and eager to run 5km.”
“I have the ability to play in the yard with my grandchildren and to celebrate life with them with non-stop energy.”
“I give 51% of my income to charity, including the United Way, Red Cross and World Vision.”
“My spouse and I take the kids on an annual vacation to the family cottage, where we play games and foster deep relationships.”
“I wake up each day with excitement to see my family and to go to a job I love.”
“My home is a place that cultivates and exudes love, acceptance and adventure.”
- LIFE THEME
“I mentor three young people, meeting with them every week to teach them life skills and coach them through difficult challenges.”
Now it’s your turn.
Remember, crafting a vision doesn’t happen in a moment. It takes time to dream.
Give just 15 or 20 minutes a day to thinking about your future and the results you would like to create.
Begin with a blank piece of paper and write down everything you want in whatever order it comes out. It may not look pretty at first, but it will help prime the vision pump.
You can worry about perfecting it later.