As we go through life we are constantly changing, growing, planning for our future yet living for today. Those wants and desires for our future are what drives our current actions. Maybe you want a new job, to be more financially stable, live a healthier lifestyle, or find more purpose in life. While the need for change is usually clear, sometimes the path is not. Without a clear vision of the future, many spend years or a lifetime in a state of limbo and never take that first step.
When my husband and I moved our family cross country to Tennessee, I knew right away it was the right decision. Benefits like the lower cost of living, slower pace of life, and a sense of community were immediate. What I struggled with was what was next for me? I had given up my job to move, was home with the boys during an unexpected global pandemic, spending most mornings with Matt at his therapy sessions, and a limited ability to network due to sheltering in place. Everything I envisioned for my career changed in the blink of an eye. With so much uncertainty, it was difficult to focus and more importantly, difficult to act.
Since I didn’t know what was next for me, I took a step back to envision the big picture. I started to think about my life as a whole. What did I value as a woman, wife, mom, friend, and neighbor. When I started to focus on my values, my vision became clear and next steps began to form. If you are feeling the need for change but your path is unclear, below is my process for creating a vision, taking action, and staying motivated.
CREATE YOUR VISION
Life is always changing. You are always changing. It’s not about a specific house, weight, or car, it is about creating a vision of the person you want to be and the life you want to build. Take that in, please. It’s not about what you have but what you value as a person. If you are chasing things, you will always be running. Creating your vision is an exercise in reevaluating what is important to you.
I found there are 2 main issues that can stop people before they even begin. The first is feeling like you need to have all the answers. You do not need to know the exact job you want or be an expert in healthy eating before taking the first step. You are creating a direction and the clarity will come as you travel on your path.
The second is creating too much change all at once. When people start to feel overwhelmed they naturally go back to what they know, their old habits. To create a better focus, I found it’s helpful to break life down into 6 main buckets:
Each bucket should be filled with visions for that area of your life. As you start to fill your buckets, I suggest having at least 2-5 goals in each bucket. This creates balance, ensuring you are not creating too much change at one time and helps you from over emphasizing any one area.
With Career, Family/Friends, Hobbies, Wellness, and Service, think about your future self and what would make you feel fulfilled. If you don’t have a specific answer, think about what you value. For example, for the wellness bucket, instead of a specific goal weight, think about the person you would be if you accomplished your goals. Would you practice more self-care, eat mindfully, have accountability, love your body? By focusing on your values, you are creating a way of life, not an endpoint.
The growth bucket is to ensure continued learning. In some cases, it will act as a feeder into other categories. For example, maybe you work in marketing but in your growth bucket you envisioned taking a sales class to explore that skill. If you enjoy it, you may decide that finding a job in sales might make sense to add to your career bucket. If sales is not for you then it was just a welcomed learning opportunity.
Now that you know your buckets, it’s time to create the vision. I love vision boards because it’s a fun and creative outlet for me. I buy magazines and flip through them and choose ideas/words/images that resonate with me. When I first did this exercise my career bucket was overflowing. Having just given up my job to move to TN, you can see why career would be on my mind!
- Write your story
- Be your own boss
- Launch, Build, and Grow the business of your dreams
- Your dream mentor
- Find purpose not just a position
- Work-life balance
If you don’t like vision boards, you can simply make a list. Write down the buckets and fill in your visions. As you create your list, be careful that while your visions don’t have to be specific they do need to be focused. Having a board that just says, happy, healthy, successful is too broad. Dig a little deeper and think about what would make you happy, how could you be healthier, what is your definition of success? This should be fun. It’s your vision after all! We’ll talk more about creating the plan but for this step, just enjoy exploring what resonates with you.
MAKE A PLAN
The actions you take today are the foundation for who you are tomorrow. Now that you have direction, you can start to break down how to get there. Look at your list and for each vision, I create one small action. You don’t have to be an expert on a topic, just start with what you know. You will learn more as you make progress and gain additional motivation.
For example, when I cut “write your story” out of a magazine, I started to write down my thoughts. I didn’t know exactly what I was writing but I made time to write consistently. What started as thoughts 2 months ago has now grown into Watered Daily. I would never have originally envisioned this blog but I gained clarity by taking steps toward my goals.
With all plans, don’t just say you will do it, pick a day, time and commit to it. As you start on your journey, there will inevitably be more “to-do’s” in your day. Here is a blog post I wrote about organizing busy days. It will help you better manage your day to day activities to not only be more efficient, but with that efficiency, comes more time!
Every day I take time to look at my vision board and remind myself of who I want to be and the direction I want to go. It may sound silly but it’s basically a daily pep-talk. We all know the saying, “out of sight, out of mind”. This is especially true right now as we struggle to juggle it all. Our brain will always try to resort back to its comfort zone of old habits so it’s imperative that we continue to remind ourselves of our goals and intentions.
As much as possible, try to be present. Too often we unconsciously go through life and only realize after the fact that we have done an action that didn’t align with our goals. For example, when we are hungry, it is very easy to eat whatever is in front of us and whatever portion is there. Instead, take a moment to acknowledge your hunger and make a purposeful decision about what to eat. Each decision we make points us in a direction. When situations come up, ask yourself if the decision you are making aligns with your path. Not all decisions need to align (life is all about balance!) but as long as the average of your decisions are in the right direction, then you will be well on your way.
The quickest way to lose motivation is thinking success will happen overnight. You have to celebrate your wins. Remember that daily pep-talk I talked about? Remind yourself of your vision and that you are heading in the right direction. Slowly, those small wins will become big wins. Commit to the growth and give it time to blossom.
As you start taking actionable steps towards who you want to be, overtime, your focus, actions, and goals become clearer. Just don’t be mad when you have to create a whole new vision board (or list!) as you start seeing your visions become reality.
How do you create your vision for the future? Comment below to share!