Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Create Your Life Vision

Do you have any idea where you're going? I used to wonder that all the time as I bobbled through life like a pinball, bouncing from one task to another. If my dream job was to be a Task Master, I'd become the expert in the field.

Routines, errands and other people's schedules ran my life. This wasn't intentional. It just enveloped me like slow growing kudzu. I was tangled up in a web of insidious activity leading nowhere. In fact, I used my tasks and to-do lists as an excuse for not consciously creating my life.

If I was busy with projects, cleaning, driving kids around, and generally chasing my tail like a crazed puppy, I didn't have to think about finding a passion or accomplishing something meaningful. Frankly I was afraid if I focused on it, I might discover I had no vision or plan for my life at all. Well, I didn't. But I was determined to create one, and here are the steps I took.

1. Step Away from the Car.
You must step out of your routine to begin this process. Force yourself to carve time out of your schedule to work on this vision. Even if it's just an hour a week, breaking the cycle of activity to focus on creating your life is the most important step on the path. Get a notebook and a folder to start gathering information.

2. Become a Self Sleuth.
Start learning about yourself -- your personality, motivations, strengths, and aptitudes. I love assessment tests. They are a great tool for starting this learning process. There are many free tests online and some that require a fee but provide you with more in-depth information. Just Google "assessment tests" or visit to get a list of various assessment tools. A coach or counselor also can administer these assessments and provide feedback.

3. Phone a Friend.
Ask those closest to you to give your their perceptions of your strengths and natural gifts. You might be surprised at what you hear. Sometimes the qualities we take for granted in ourselves are areas where others perceive us as gifted and valuable.

4. Dig Deeper.
Here's the part that assessment tools may not cover. Get pen and paper and write down everything you feel passionate about or that brings you joy, in your personal and professional life. Now write down all of the things you'd like less of in your life. If it's a feeling (ie: stress), write down the root cause for the feeling (over-scheduled). Finally, write down a list of your values and pick the top 4 or 5 that are non-negotiable for your life and career. Here's a great list of value words to help you:

5. Outline Your Vision.
Now you should know a good bit more about yourself -- your personality, your gifts, your motivations, your passions and your values. Using all of the information you've gathered about yourself, you are going to begin to outline your life vision. Get your pen and six sheets of paper. Put the one of the following headlines on each sheet: Career; Relationship; Family; Physical Space/Home; Personal Growth/Learning/ Faith; Lifestyle/Fun. Now begin writing your ideal vision for each of these based on what you've learned about yourself.

6. Find the Imbalances.
Now review the vision you've written for each category, and determine how your current life is out-of-balance with your vision. There may be big areas like being in the wrong job. And there may be small areas like you want to travel more. Go to your list of things you want less of in your life (see #4 above) and decide if you can make adjustments here to help you create your vision in each category.

7. Begin Somewhere.
Pick one of these out-of-balance areas and begin to do something about it. If you are ready to tackle something big, then pick the area that is draining most of your energy. Write a list of everything that needs to be done to get you to that vision and start the work. If this is overwhelming, start small. Pick one action from any category and do that. Then another and another. You get the picture.

8. Visit Your Vision Daily.
Every day, re-read your vision so that you build excitement and energy around it. Make adjustments as you create more awareness. Then keep working toward it. Every step, whether large or small, is moving you forward on the path to your wonderful new life. Don't get overwhelmed. Just take it one piece at a time. One day you will wake up and realize you haven't just created your life vision. You are living it!

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