Is your life not what you thought it would be?
Do you avoid thinking about the future?
Are you lacking motivation and energy?
Do you feel powerless to make big changes in your life?
Do you feel like your life is without purpose?
If you answered yes to any of the above, there’s a good chance you’re living a life without a vision. Your vision is that thorny, big, scary, often avoided ‘what should I do with my life?’ question. When we were young, dreaming about our lives was easy – but as work/life guru Liz Ryan writes in a recent Forbes article, “…when and why do adults stop having dreams? There is no logical reason for people to stop dreaming about the life they want or to stop working toward it, but nonetheless most people do.” As adults, defining our personal vision can be one heck of a challenge. It can be overwhelming, so we put it off – which is a critical mistake. See, creating a vision for your life takes time and it takes space – two commodities that are shockingly scarce for most of us. Sadly, some struggle for clarity for most of, if not all of their lives. It’s not something some of us consider until it’s too late. The reality is, we’ll never have the absolute clarity we seek but we must chart a course and then duck, dodge, weave, leap and stomp our way towards a life with meaning and fulfillment.
The Excuses We Make
The question isn’t whether you have a grand vision for your life. It’s whether you’re even considering where you’re headed and if it feels right for you. Does your current life create energy for you – does it excite you – or are you stuck, muddling through trying not to think about your reality? Do the following sound familiar?
Are you waiting for retirement to start doing the things that make you happy?
Do you have to hit a certain dollar threshold before you can feel comfortable pursuing your passion?
Are you making sacrifices so you can take care of others before you focus on yourself?
Is the timing just not right to make that big change?
These are all excuses we make because we are afraid. The source of our fear might be different – it could be the fear of the unknown, the fear of what others might think, the fear of losing control or the fear of failure. In order to overcome our fears, we have to acknowledge them – but they are tricky. They hide and only manifest when we begin to push beyond our spheres of comfort. That’s why creating a vision for your life is so important – it forces us to consider whether we are on a path towards realizing our dreams – a potentially uncomfortable question.
Creating Your Vision
So how do we get beyond the fear and live a fearless life? It starts with creating a picture of what we want our lives to be. This doesn’t have to be a work of art – think kindergarten finger painting; working your way towards a Monet. Your vision starts with a glimpse. Close your eyes, picture yourself at some point in the future – near or distant, it doesn’t matter. What do you see? What are you doing? Where are you? Wait for the picture to come into focus. Notice the details – what do you smell? Who is there with you? Focus more. Write it down. If it doesn’t come, try going back to some point in your life where the future you wanted was clearer, before things got complicated. What did that look like? Still nothing? Try working on answering these questions (**additional questions at the end of the article):
What are you doing when you are in the ‘zone’ – where time passes without notice?
How can you serve others in a powerful and meaningful way?
What do you want to create, share, give, feel during your life?
In what ways do you want to grow? In your career, relationships, knowledge, abilities?
What are your life’s possible regrets that scare you the most? What do you need to do to ensure those regrets don’t become real?
What do you love to do? What are you good at?
Have your vision? No? That’s okay – remember that creating a vision for yourself doesn’t happen during an hour you carve out on the weekend. It takes time and space. It takes focus. It takes intention. Some find it best to create their vision when they have some time off and in a place that inspires them. Others are clearest in the morning and take that early time to work on their vision. It’s up to you – the key is to get out of your routine and out of the familiar. You’ll open up and your thinking will be clearer.
From Vision To Reality
Once you have your vision, now what? In simple terms, make a to-do list. Start making progress – overcome inertia and take incremental steps towards making your vision your new reality. It doesn’t matter how small or seemingly insignificant your actions may be – read an article, read a book, have a conversation, join a club, start a new project, apply for a new job – you get the idea. The important thing is progress, you have to keep making progress.
Now, once you’re on a path you’re excited about (or is at least better than before), check in with yourself (or an accountability partner). Are you learning, growing and developing new muscles? Are you still energized? Are you having the impact you envisioned? Has your vision changed? No one’s vision should remain static, it should morph and change as you change. By checking in, you are taking ownership of your life – the only one you’re going to have. You are choosing to live deliberately – with purpose, instead of having life happen to you. Revising your vision is easy once you have one to begin with.
The hopes and desires we have for our lives are within all of us – we just have to take the time to connect (or reconnect) with where we are and where we want to be. Creating a vision is a great accomplishment, and once you have yours you’ll have a leg up. You’ll notice your sense of direction, purpose and clarity start to reemerge. You’ll feel lighter, more confident and in control.
What’s your vision?
**Additional questions to ask yourself if you are finding it difficult to find your vision:
Where do you want to be in 1, 3, 5, 10, 25, 50 years?
What has been the source of the most pleasure and/or pride in your work?
What would you do if you didn’t have to worry about money?
What did you want to be when you graduated high school? College?
At the end of your life, what do you want to be most proud of?
Neill Beurskens is Founder of This Fearless Life and creates profound change for incredible people looking to get more out of their life and work. To explore the possibilities of a life lived fearlessly visit www.thisfearlesslifecoaching.com