- Creating Life Vision *TOP 10* by Lapis
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The Top 10 Exercises for Establishing Your Life Vision and Mission
Vision and mission are very closely related. Your vision could be entitled MY BIG DREAM, and your mission is WHAT I'M GOING TO DO ABOUT IT.
Your vision is a picture of the future that you create with your imagination. You need to use your imagination to create it, because the future is an imaginary place that does not exist in present reality. Your vision is a guiding image of accomplishment and fulfillment, not just for you, but for others as well. Then, within the context of your overall life vision, your mission captures the essence of your life, the reason why you're here.
Picture setting out on a trip from Toronto to New York - but on this trip you are referring to a map of England as you make decisions about where to make your next turn! Not only would you become very confused, but you would certainly have lost all possibility of reaching your desired destination! That's because your vision about where you want to go does not match the map you have chosen to get you there.
Yet how many of us live our lives like that? We're trying to get somewhere that we find fulfilling, but we're following a map created by our parents, our boss, the Wall Street Journal, the latest talk show - or worse yet, "the job market". Who knows where "the job market" is going to be six months from now, never mind a lifetime from now?!
Through using your imagination to create your life vision and mission, you come to understand the meaning of your life and your unique role in the world. Taking the time to envision where you want to go with your life will help you to select or create the map which will guide you to your own unique future.
Below are some simple (but not necessarily easy) exercises which can help you to create a clear internal image for your future direction:
1. "Can't Stand/Want Instead"
Sometimes it helps if you start with the easy part—what you don’t like about your life right now. So take a piece of paper and divide it in half. On the left side, make a list of all the things that you’re unhappy with at work or at home or in your relationships. Now, on the right side, flip these around, and record how these circumstances would look if they were working for you.
e.g Can’t Stand:
-working with my current
-living in apartment
-relationships seem so negative
-to work with a supportive boss or mentor
-save up a down payment and buy a house
-helpful and supportive people in my life
2. Suggestion Box for the Brain
As you begin to develop your vision, it is important to be open to the new ideas and experiences that Life is waiting to send you. As you work at completing the exercises below, not all of your ideas may come to you at the same time. Creating an organized way to collect these ideas is like hanging out a sign to the Universe saying "Open for Business".
So buy yourself a little pocket-sized notebook for random thoughts, and a larger notebook for your completed exercises. (Palm Pilots and computer files are fine, but buying special notebooks may help to send a signal to your unconscious that your ideas are exceptional and valuable). Now you'll always have a place to write your ideas down and collect them over time.
The first thing to do, however, is to get used to noticing and capturing them before you ignore, discount, or deny them. You may need to make a special effort to put your inner critic or editor on hold while you let your natural self emerge.
3. Begin with the End in Mind
Take some uninterrupted time and consider the following scenario:
Suppose you are at your eightieth birthday. You have had a full life, and have lived your various roles to the utmost of your potential. Many people have come to honor you and express their love and appreciation for your life. There are to be four speakers: a family member, a friend, a work colleague, and someone from your church or community.
See these individuals in your mind's eye as they stand, one by one, to pay tribute to you. What would you like each of these people to be able to say about you and your life? What sort of mother, father, daughter, son, cousin would you like their words to reflect? What sort of character would you like for them to have seen in you? What contributions and achievements would you want them to remember? What difference would you like to have made in their lives?
4. In the Beginning
Another way of going at the visioning process involves looking at your past.
Who did you used to be, before society came along and formed you into someone else?
When my friend Sue was a child, she was always the one that was organizing the group, imagining ideas and getting other people to join in. What does she do today? She’s a manager in a national non-profit organization, and she became this by “being herself”.
Think back to when you were a child. What sorts of games did you enjoy playing? What sorts of interests did you have? What roles did you play when you were in a group–were you the leader, the follower, the imaginative one, the sensible one?
Perhaps there are important parts of you that have gotten lost somewhere along the way. You need to get in touch with them again, because your uniqueness forms the foundation of your vision. So complete the following statements.
When I was a child, here's what I liked to do the most:
The role I most often took in a group was:
(some examples: leader, visionary, organizer, deal-maker, consultant, boss, salesperson, recruiter, listener, helper, advocate, nurturer, coach, follower, welcomer, story-teller, reporter, gossip columnist, humorist/clown, rebel, outlaw, police officer, bouncer, mediator, strategist, scientist/investigator, researcher, architect, builder, contractor...)
5. Your Perfect Life
Ask yourself this question: Suppose that a miracle happens, and the world is unfolding exactly as you’d like it to. In fact, you have been able to create Your Perfect Life. What does your perfect life look like?
What is happening different, or more, or less when the miracle has occurred? How much money do you have? Who is in your life? Who is not in your life? Where are you living? What surrounds you each day? What are you doing with your time? What role are you playing in life and in your community? What are you enjoying? What are you learning? What are you giving or not giving?
6. Four Dreams
Record four dreams for different areas of your life:
A dream for myself:
A dream for my family:
A dream for my community:
A dream for the world:
7. Your Passions
Passion is the energy that turns Vision into Action. Without passion, a vision is just an idea or a daydream. Your vision and what you feel deeply about need to be strongly connected, or you may create grand dreams but then run out of steam as you try to accomplish them.
Many of us have gotten out of touch with what we feel strongly about. That's because we've often been taught to discount what we think and feel. We've been encouraged to adopt the thoughts and feelings of such other people as spouses, parents, teachers, friends, or society at large. We may have been laughed at by people who did not value the same things as we do... So we learned to tuck our perceptions away, sometimes so deeply that it may take years to elicit them again.
Here are some questions that might help you to understand your own unique passions:
1. If you had the time or money, what would you most want to study, practice, master, or research deeply? What would you want to become an expert in?
2. What activities do you engage in or discuss with others, where you lose all track of time?
3. If money wasn't a concern, what work would you be willing to do for FREE?
4. What kinds of problems do you absolutely love to solve?
5. What kind of needs, opportunities, activities, or ideas really motivate you and seem to give you energy?
6. What do you think or dream about when you lie awake at night just staring at the ceiling?
7. What causes are you willing to dedicate your life to?
8. Everything I've Ever Wanted
There was once a young woman whose mother was always complaining about how she had never achieved this dream or that. The young woman decided she would be different from her mom. So at the age of 22, she sat down and wrote out everything she could think of that she'd like to do before her death. She ended up with 145 items on her list, and the list included such experiences as building her own house, skiing in the Alps, and visiting at least half the countries in the world. Long story short, by the age of 50, she had achieved 143 of her 145 goals!
You can have this level of goal achievement, too. But first you have to figure out what your goals are.
Take some time and record below every dream, wish, and fantasy that has ever entered your mind. If you want to take a trip to New York, write it down. If you want to buy a big house with a pool, write it down. If you want to set up an aid project in a Third World country, then write it down. Don't second-guess yourself or worry about your ability to achieve your dream. Simply let your imagination run wild and create an ongoing list of things that you would like to have, be, do, or accomplish during your lifetime. It's amazing how powerful and affirming it is simply to identify these wishes and write them down.
Not all envisioning activity has to be introspective. One of the most interesting and energizing ways to explore your own passions and visions is to get in touch with people who share them. Once you have some general ideas for a potential direction, get out there and look for people who are already doing what you have in mind. Gather names from newspaper, magazine, and journal articles, scan the Yellow Pages, join trade or professional associations, attend seminars and presentations related to your area of interest, join networking groups. By talking to others, you will gather concrete feedback as to the validity and attractiveness of each of your ideas.
10. What Price?
Now that you have some ideas that can help propel you forward, record your answers to the following questions:
1. What price are you currently paying for not pursuing your passions and visions? (i.e. stress, poor health, physical symptoms, spiritual or emotional dis-ease)
2. What price are you willing to pay in order to pursue your passion (i.e. sacrifice financially, face fears, eliminate bad habits, make some tough decisions etc.)?
About the Submitter
This piece was originally submitted by Lois Raats, M.Ed., Personal and Corporate Coach, who can be reached at email@example.com, or visited on the web. Lois Raats wants you to know: I am a counsellor and coach with 15 years' experience. I've found that reflective exercises have helped me to move forward through various life transitions. Hope these ideas will help propel you into your own unique future! The original source is: input from Henriette Klauser, Stephen Covey, Barbara Sher, and Wayne VanWyck.