I always thought a vision had to be a huge, larger-than-life, seemingly unattainable future. During my corporate years, we would hear the term BHAG (Big Hairy Ass Goal) a lot and we would mistakenly use that goal as our ‘vision’. It was confusing and misleading. It often led to disappointment because they rarely came to fruition. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the stories of people using psychedelic drugs or mind-altering substances to create profound ‘visions’ of the meaning of life have always carried allure and intrigue for people as a shortcut to understanding this experience we call existence. As I shifted my personal and professional journey towards health & wellness, I realized that the concept of a ‘vision’ was fuzzy, at best, dangerous, at worst, and I took it upon myself to really understand the nuanced meaning of a vision and how we can benefit from them to reveal our true potential.
What is a vision?
A vision, simply stated, is the ability to see an idea or mental image of something. This idea or mental image can consist of anything within our imagination and may evoke physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual experiences. We each have an imagination full of infinite potential that can create boundless ideas, thoughts, and stories. This imagination constantly creates new ideas or mental images throughout the day. Here are just a few examples from clients:
I see myself smiling to a room full of applause as I finished my annual presentation.
I can hear the ocean waves while I’m swinging in a huge soft hammock with a new book in my hand.
I feel a deep sense of dread as I imagine an off-leash dog running up to me and my new puppy.
I feel full of energy and joy as I see myself running around with my grandchildren in the backyard without being short of breath.
I imagine that I’m sitting alone in my empty house because I couldn’t save my marriage after losing my job.
I blissfully glide through the day without a worry in the world as I effortlessly tackle my to-do list.
You may notice that a vision can be anything that comes to our mind - unfiltered and unfettered ideas or mental images that dance around inside at all hours of the day. When we choose to let our visions run free, they can create a whole range of experiences – both positive and negative. Without attention and awareness, visions can become an uncontrolled version of a future that we never intended or asked for. As these visions become habitual, our mind starts to find ways to fulfill them through both conscious and subconscious actions. You may be able to see how this can lead to problems if your uncontrolled visions focus on elements of fear, worry, hate, doubt, and other negative emotions. This is why it is so valuable and fulfilling to create an intentional vision (or visions), rather than have passive visions created for you. An intentional vision is one you have autonomy over that aligns with your personal values and interests. It allows you to manifest a future version of yourself and your life that you know will serve your deepest needs and desires. Let’s talk about the elements to create an intentional vision.
How do I create a vision?
In order for you to create intentional visions, there are a few elements I believe are needed to enable the process:
Attention & Awareness
Mindset: One of the most important elements in creating an intentional vision is to have a healthy foundation for your mind to imagine. When you are stressed, tired, hangry, or emotional, your mind can’t function in an optimal way. Try to figure out when you are at your best physically, mentally, and emotionally throughout the day, week or month. A quick reflection on the past few weeks might help you find a time when you feel your best. Maybe it is when you have your morning coffee, when you’re taking a Sunday walk in nature, while you’re taking your weekly self-care bath, or when you sit down in your favorite chair to watch the sunset after dinner. These are the moments that you want to dedicate to creating an intentional vision.
Category: It can be daunting to think of a vision for your life as a whole, especially if you’ve never made an intentional vision. By channeling your vision creation into a category, it can allow the imagination to formulate a more succinct and relatable idea. The beauty of this journey is that you can have multiple visions across multiple categories. Starting small allows you to practice the habit of vision creation. Here are a few categories you could use as potential areas to start in: Health & Well Being, Family, Fun, Career, Friends, Money, Personal Development, Physical Environment, and Romance.
Reflection: You can’t know where you want to go until you have an idea of where you are. Once you’ve chosen an area of life to create a vision for, take a few minutes to ask yourself what this area of life looks like for you now. There are no right or wrong answers during this reflection process. One method that I use with clients is to start them off with “In My Life, [category] is…” What this step can reveal is your current perspective, belief, or status of this area of life and it will allow you to clear your mind of these currently held ideas so it can be open to new ones.
Attention & Awareness: Attention and awareness are two ingredients that will enable you to bring your vision into focus. With attention, you are willing to put all your energy into the exercise of vision creation. Putting aside your phone, turning off your TV, and removing any other known distractions will allow you to focus your attention. As the external chatter begins to quiet, you can shift your attention with an intention. Say to yourself, “I am ready to create my vision of [insert category].” Once you’ve set this intention, your mind begins to naturally increase its awareness of this area of life. Thoughts, ideas, and mental imagery begin to form in your mind and the vision-creating process takes full effect. Take note of what comes to mind and feel free to spend as much or as little time as you feel comfortable in this phase. It can be helpful to have paper and pen to write down or draw anything that sparks inspirational emotions.
Sensorially S.M.A.R.T.: SMART is an acronym that is widely used in goal creation, but I also believe it represents ways to help solidify your vision into something that is more tangible and usable. If we use this framework, but sensorially (through our senses), it can build upon your original idea of your vision by giving it a more resilient and powerful foundation to motivate you.
Specific: Use your senses to bring your vision clarity. What do you see, smell, hear, taste, and feel? Who are you with, where you are, what are you doing, when is this happening, and why is it important? Bringing specificity to your vision can give you the energy to create a ‘vision board’ which brings together a physical representation of your vision onto a board that you can view often.
Measurable: You will want to define how you will measure your progress toward your vision. Traditionally, many of us measure it as a number – how much or how many, but you can measure it in any way that allows you to answer the question – “How will I know when I’ve arrived at my vision?” Maybe it’s a single experience or moment - the smile on my face when I take the final step across the finish line. Or maybe it’s an ongoing emotion – the joy of hearing the laughter of my kids every night because I could play with them. However you choose to define it, the ability to measure it will ensure that your path to it is clear.
Attainable: Ask yourself – am I thinking too small or too big? For someone who is new to this process, the sweet spot is when you create a vision of something that you think is just beyond your reach. With perseverance and the right support (like a coach), you’ll put yourself in a prime position to succeed and create a positive mindset for continued growth. The positive momentum that is built by making your vision attainable is that you can then achieve two things: 1) truly celebrate the arrival of the moment you envisioned and bask in the positive emotions and 2) build upon this vision as you look beyond it as a continued evolution of your journey.
Relevant: When you reflect on areas of your life that you wish to focus on, you want to ensure your vision is related to the area of most importance for this experience. Of course, there will be overlap, as there should be because your vision will likely benefit multiple areas of your life! As long as you can clearly link your vision to the area and emotions that are most important to you then you are on the right path.
Timely: Depending on your vision, it may be something you want to see come to fruition in 3 weeks, 3 months, a year, 5 years, or 20 years. It’s entirely up to you and the time-bound element allows you to start to define a plan that enables it to come to life.
What’s the most important step when creating a vision?
There’s one crucially important step to vision creation that will enable you to achieve it. SAY IT OUT LOUD. The more you bring it up in your life the more likely your mind will begin to create the conscious and subconscious actions to enable it to happen. Put reminders or your vision board in a place you will see every day. Say it to yourself in the mirror (with a smile on your face). Tell your dog, cat, or pet ferret about it. Bring it up to your family, friends, and co-workers.
You can even share it on social
media or other mediums that you use to communicate. The more often you put it out into the universe, the more often the universe responds in kind. It may feel awkward, uncomfortable, or silly at first, but eventually, you will feel the motivation and energy helping you to make progress toward your vision.
Where do I go from here?
Creating a vision may feel intimidating or downright hard. Most of the time it’s simply because we haven’t learned how to create one. Try using the information above to enable you to take the first step without any judgment or doubt. The simple step of trying is what will begin to shift you from passive visions to intentional visions. If you’re looking for someone to guide you, book a free discovery call with me and I can help you begin your journey.