For a number of years I would set goals or objectives for some point in the future. Usually it was a few months or a year down the road. Like almost everyone it seems like I would start out strong and then just fade over time.
I’d fade to the point that by the time the end of the few months or a year would be up I’d have stopped tracking my progress and wouldn’t have made any meaningful progress in any direction.
It was super disappointing. But I stuck with it.
I realized what I was missing was my north star. That big thing way off in the distance that was my reason for doing everything. I really didn’t want to just keep floating in whichever direction life took me. I wanted to make meaningful strides towards something.
This quote from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland describes it perfectly.
“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”
Thats exactly how I felt and something I wanted to avoid. I didn’t want to just end up wherever I ended up in life. I wanted to choose where I ended up in life and work towards it.
What is a vision?
This is where my vision comes in. A vision is a north star for your life that is the reason behind everything that you do.Its what all your goals are based off of and what keeps you moving. Even when you stumble, like I have in the past, chasing your vision forces you to get up and try again.
Which means a goal is not a vision.
A vision is the why of your life. Its what you are chasing. Its what your most ideal world would look like at some point in the future.
Because I like to drill things down to the most basic steps I have established three steps to setting a vision for your life. That was a big sentence. I didn’t mean for that to sound so profound. The thing about a vision is that it changes.
It grows with you. As you work your way down a path to your vision it may become more or less clear in certain areas.
This actually happened to me. When I went to school I thought I would work all hours of the day and night to achieve success. I’d outwork everything to get to the top.
And then I got married. It turns out I really like my wife and I wanted to spend time with her. And then I had a child and I wanted to spend time with her too.
If I had set a vision for my life (I’d like to say I did but I didn’t) in college it would have looked a lot like me at the top of my career with lots of wealth.
With no one to share it with.
Things have changed and now my vision looks more like, I am wealthy beyond compare in love for my family and also have a firm financial footing.
You see as I grew and matured I gained clarity on what I wanted in life and adjusted accordingly.
A vision is all about gaining clarity on what you want in life so you can take meaningful steps in that direction. If you don’t at least know what direction you need to walk in then you’ll end up like Alice in Wonderland and just end up in whatever direction you decided to walk.
I realize I’ve only got one shot at this thing called life and I plan on taking advantage of it.
I diverted course a bit there but can now share with you my 3 steps. I revisit these steps regularly to ensure that the clarity I have for way off in the future is aligned with my current self.
I can’t chase something my past self wanted because then there wouldn’t be that fire or hunger to get back up when I get knocked down.
Step 1: Select a time point in the future.
Setting a vision is hard. Its a daunting task that most will think about but never do because they don’t know where to start. To be the easiest thing you can do is select a time point in the future.
Want something even easier? Choose a specific age.
I don’t know about you but my parents are somewhat recently knew grandparents right around the age of 50-55. Because I have lots of examples right around that age between my parents, in-laws, aunts, uncles, etc I can easily gather a lot of data.
This data would help answer questions like what do they spend their time doing? Where do they seem to be financially? What does their marriage look like?
I can then compare all of those answers to how I want to spend my life. I’m able to use that data to extrapolate my own answers. For my vision I have chosen the age of 55.
Step 2: Identify the areas of your life that are important
This is an important step. You need to break your entire life down into different areas or categories so its more straight forward to focus. Rather than just set broad goals for your life, breaking your life down into areas or segments will allow you to think through that specific area of your life.
For instance, relationships may be a segment you break your life into. The three groups of relationships that may fall under that would be significant other, children, and friends. Yours may look a little different but you get the idea.
The hard part is how many areas is too much and how many is too little? Thats a tough one. To answer that I think I’d point you to earlier in the post where I say that your vision is always a work in progress so just start somewhere and, over time, it will get better and better.
One example I’d point you to is via a book by Michael Hyatt called Living Forward. In it he breaks down life into a variety of areas and then helps you develop each area. One of his free resources breaks life down into 6 or 7 categories. For a great example go to this link and download one of the templates.
Another great example is something written by the former CEO of Coca Cola. He breaks life down into 5 balls that you are always juggling. He says that some of these are rubber and will bounce back if you drop them but some other glass and will never be the same again if you drop them. Find out more here.
My areas of life area: physical, spiritual, relationships, financial, job, personal life.
Step 3: Write out, in detail, your vision
Step 3 is where the rubber meets the road. In the first step you identified a time point in the future and collected some data. The second step you broke down your entire life into a few areas.
Now its time to put pen to paper.
Write out in as much detail as you can what you want your life to look like. Get specific. You aren’t getting specific so you can make SMART goals and work backwards and blah blah blah.
Don’t do that.
Do it so you can come back to this vision you want for your life and you can picture is so well you can take yourself there and feel yourself living this life in the future.
Don’t say you want a big house. Say that you want a 4 bedroom, 3 bath house with a fenced in back yard and a dog. What color is the house? What is is decorated like? Does it have a basement?
This may seem silly but you need to articulate exactly what you want to happen. Like I said earlier, you need to know exactly what you are working for. When you get up early to develop yourself or to put more hours in it has to be for a reason. Make your vision this reason.
Give yourself something to work for.
There you have it. Having a vision for your life is something that has helped me a ton. When life gets hard and I don’t want to keep working hard or getting better I read what I want my life to be. Like Gary V says your actions need to match your ambition.
Best of luck to you. Let me know how your vision comes together!