They say diamonds form under pressure.
I looked at the formidable male hovering in front of me, thrown out of balance by his sudden outburst of verbal aggression. “What is it that you want?!” He was yelling at me without giving me the chance to answer. He repeatedly threw his question on me, varying the phrasing ever so slightly, growing louder and more dominating with every second. His verbal avalanche buried my attempts to reply, I could hardly think straight, and I had to make a conscious effort not to leave.
Well, I could have left anytime. But where’s the fun in quitting?
The intimidating person in front of me was my sparring partner in the experiential training I recently did. The purpose of the exercise was to see if the life vision that I have formulated shortly is genuine and authentic. To see if I could hold on to it even stripped of all artificial layers of conventions, expectations, social norms and comfortable routine patterns that made my life so… normal?!
There are two main takeaways from that training. First – most true things are simple. When pressured, it’s the essence of ideas and people that ultimately remains when all decorations fall off. We often cling on to what falls off first when tested hard.
Second – life vision is about being, not having. If you ask yourself, “What do I want and why do I want this?” enough times, you’ll see that what you want is to be – in alignment, happy, helping, supporting, growing etc.
But what is life vision, and how do you find out yours?
The North Star is famous for holding nearly still in our sky while the entire northern sky moves around it. That’s because it’s located nearly at the north celestial pole, the point around which the entire northern sky turns.
I see our true self as the metaphorical celestial pole and our physiological, spiritual, emotional and intellectual life rotating around it.
Suppose you agree to see your life as a journey towards discovering your true self. You will need a reference point, a guiding principle that will help you stay on track. Your life vision is such a guiding principle. However, like with ancient sailors, you have to learn the skills to set your
course vision. You might also want to learn how to correct any course deviations caused by external influences like winds or storms.
The good thing is that you only need two tools to do all that and more – the ability to dream and envision.
Start with dreams once you have decided to figure out your life vision. What did you dream about when you were a kid? Who did you want to be when you’d grow up? What did you dream your house will look like? How many kids will you have? Who your partner would be? What will your work be like? What will you do (and what – don’t)? Start with remembering and reviving the dreams you once had; ask your parents or childhood friends to remind you if you’ve forgotten.
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.”William Arthur Ward, one of America’s most quoted authors of inspirational maxims
Once you have the list, go through your dreams again, one by one. Move the fantasy-like dreams aside, shorten the list leaving only goal-like dreams. Which dreams did you give up when you grew up? Why? Have you kept any? Why? Which dreams do you wish you would have kept? What do you dream about now? Who do you want to be? How do you want your life to be? Where do you want to live? What do you want to do? What places do you dream of visiting? What people do you dream of being around? What makes you happy? What makes you fulfilled? How do you want to be remembered? What impact do you want to have? What do you want to achieve? What kind of person do you want to be? What do you like to learn? What do you want to experience? What world do you want to live in?
You won’t use all of the dreams you listed to envision your life. However, this exercise aims to allow you to step out of the obligations and expectations and dig out the real you, your wishes, your dreams, your hopes and aspirations, your ambitions, and your life vision.
Now that you have your dream list let’s get more specific!
The difference between your dream and your vision is your ambition to achieve it. Remember that it is not the time or place to think about how you will practically achieve what you want. For now, concentrate on describing your North Star. Your vision will guide you through life; it will motivate you to stand up after you fall, move on when you are tired and persist when all you seem to want is to give up. Your vision is your dream, written in an ambitious, compelling and authentic way. When you read it, you can visualise it, feel it, long for it.
I find it helpful to make sure my vision covers these three areas – the world I want to live in, the life I want to have and the person I want to be. Once you have written down your vision, it is easier to set actionable goals towards achieving it when it already covers yourself, your life and the world.
I like to phrase my vision with the following three factors in mind:
- responsible – consciously choosing response over reaction;
- holistic – treating the whole rather than just symptoms and the concequences;
- sustainable – continuous, ongoing, able to be maintained at a certain level.
Set the vision!
Once you have envisioned the world, your life and yourself, it’s time to set the vision.
In 1-2 sentences per area, put your vision together. Be descriptive; use your dreams as inspiration. Remain true – leave out anything that does not feel authentic.
Read the outcome out loud to yourself; how does it feel? Does it feel authentic? Does it feel ambitious enough to get you out of bed each morning? Does it excite you? If it does – congratulations, you have your vision!
If you wonder what’s next, I suggest you read my article about holistic goal setting and set your goals – with your new vision in mind 🙂