You are creating your life as you go based upon how you think about your life. Are you intentional about that or are you reacting to what is?
I am passionate about visioning and goal-setting. In 2007, I created a 10-year plan for my life using the process that I outline in this post. At that time, I was single (three years post-divorce), working for a consulting firm, and trying to figure out how to balance a career while raising my five-year old daughter,
Mayson. I was happy and enjoyed life, but dreamed of more . . . I allowed myself to imagine the possibilities of what could be for my life. I prayed and reflected and listened to my heart (even though my head often tried to tell me I was crazy). I knew there was a deeper longing within me, so I wrote down what I wanted, I created a vision board, and I expressed gratitude for all of it coming to me, so it’s no surprise that the areas of the plan that got attention and focus came to be. I wrote these three things in my 10-year plan in 2007 and they now describe my life:
- I am happily married to a beautiful man who encourages the best of me. We are co-creating a brilliant, bold life together.
- I lead a growing organization that is modeling the way for leadership and talent development.
- Mayson is 15 years old and such a bright light in my life. She is confident and has a strong faith. We laugh a lot and talk about everything.
What you think about comes about. The results of your life come from the view you have of your life, so what is it that you want in this year and beyond? Now is always great time for you to dedicate energy to those thoughts. Too often, our dreams and ideas remain as lofty ideals—without focused attention, it is unlikely that they will come to fruition. So instead, we go through our year “hoping for the best” and “waiting to see what will happen.” A much more empowering approach is to create a plan and take ownership for working towards those things that are most important to you.
The majority of individuals approach the goal-setting process backwards which hinders success—setting goals for one month, three months, six months, one year, etc. continually keeps us focused on the obstacles in our current state. This hinders our ability to “get on a roll” and as feelings of disappointment and lack emerge, our goal-setting falls apart and we don’t accomplish what we set out to. In order to “get on a roll” and feel inspired around accomplishing our goals, we must extend our thinking out beyond the obstacles—to where our minds are suddenly set free to think ideally. I encourage a minimum of ten years into the future as the starting point of the goal-setting process. It looks like this:
Step 1: Dream Big—Create a 10-Year Vision for Your Life
Go big! Step out of “what is” and into “what could be.” Allow yourself to dream. Use the questions below to identify what you want in different areas of your life as you view it 10 years from now, in 2028. Right it down and think of it as a guide, a vision for your life in 10 years.
· What does my spiritual life look like as I view it ten years from now?
· What actions am I taking on a regular basis to preview and enhance my spirituality?
· What family relationships am I focusing on 10 years from now—what do those relationships look like?
· In what special ways are the lives of those closest to me reflecting the love and support I have given them?
· In what kind of special activities am I regularly engaged with my family?
· Thinking ideally, how do I see myself earning a living in ten years?
· In what ways is this allowing me to achieve my fullest potential?
· In what kinds of social activities am I regularly engaged as I view myself ten years from now?
· In what clubs or organizations am I actively involved? How do I describe my circle of friends?
· In what kind of physical shape am I as I view myself ten years from now?
· In what kind of exercise programs am I consistently active? How do I feel about my health?
· How much money is required on a yearly basis to fully support the above activities?
· As I view myself ten years from now, what is my overall satisfaction level with my financial picture?
· What progress have I made toward accumulating wealth for my future years?
Step 2: Create Annual Goals
Once you have a vision, you’re in a great place to think about what to do now. Based on your long-term vision, identify annual goals in each area. In other words, what do you want to focus on in the coming year to propel you in the areas of spirituality, family, career, social, health, and finances?
As I said earlier, the aspects of my vision that I focused on came to be. Those that I had the most passion for and spent the most time on came to be. When you are setting your annual goals, be disciplined in two ways. First, set only 1-2 goals for each area. Second, set goals that you are super-passionate about. Without energy and attention, your goals won’t have any momentum. If you don’t “feel it” it shouldn’t be included in your goals.
Step 3: Visualize
The next step in the process is to create visual representation of your goals—a vision board. Once you have focus for the year, determine what it looks like. If you can see it in your mind’s eye and feel it, it can absolutely be yours! While you can certainly create a vision board for your long-term vision, I encourage you to focus on the upcoming year and have fun in the process!
After you’ve created your goals for the upcoming year, look through magazines for pictures/images that represent your goals. After you’ve collected several (at least one for each goal—remember, no more than 2 goals for each area in your long-term vision), paste them onto a poster board. Have fun with it—there is no way to mess up your vision board—it’s yours! The keys are to ensure the goals are aligned with your long-term vision and that you feel super-passionate about each of them.
After you’ve pasted the images onto your poster board, find a spot in your home or office to display your vision board. Make sure it’s visible every day sot you have a daily reminder (and a picture) of what you’re creating.
Step 4: Talk about your vision!
What you talk about, you give energy and attention to, so talk about your vision. Share your goals with your family (or better yet, do the process together), your friends, and your colleagues. Talking about your vision for the future is always uplifting—it will not only inspire your goals but it will most definitely inspire others to be more intentional with their lives, as well.
No one can go back and make a brand-new start, but anyone can start from here and make a brand-new end. Regardless of the tool, template or process that you use, take time to create a vision and focus for your life; otherwise, you will spend your time reacting to whatever it is that comes your way. With a plan and focus, you can create the life you want.