As the calendar flipped to a new year, did you ponder what a life different than the one you are currently leading could bring? More significantly, has this different life been an ongoing dream? I was like that for a while. Since 2009 I dreamed of having my own coaching practice. In the back of my mind I dreamt about working with people that wanted to change their lives and be more fulfilled. I would think about it and discuss it in terms of “…one day” and not really doing anything to get me going. Finally in 2012 I decided that it was time to focus on it as my vision for the next phase of my life. I declared it to my husband and family and as things came up and decisions had to be made I used my vision to help guide the outcomes. It wasn’t until I started thinking about this as my purpose that I started taking concrete steps to make it happen. Now I have the opportunity to work with women to help them turn their visions into realities by embracing their unique leadership style and kicking self-doubt to the curb. My clients are ready to take action. They are tired of just thinking about things wistfully and want a new reality.
One of the first things that I do with a coaching client is ascertaining what she wants to accomplish from our partnership. What is her vision? How does she want to be different? What does she want to achieve? Asking the question gives the person permission to share their dreams and desires. Sometimes it is the first time that they are sharing this with someone else. It begins to make their vision something more than just a thought in their head or a whisper in their heart.
Visions give us purpose and serve as our north star. It is a key component that determines what we want to achieve from the different areas of our lives. When a decision has to be made, a clear vision feeds our inner compass and helps guide our choices that move us closer to our north star. Additionally, knowing our vision serves to inspire us particularly on those days when we start questioning ourselves and decisions. It helps reminds us of what we are trying to achieve through our actions or what we might fail to accomplish by deciding not to take action.
Knowing what your purpose is brings clarity. It is not enough to want, say, your own business, or lead an entire company division. Clarity involves adding specificity to it. If, for example, having your own business is your dream, then you will need to determine the market segment of your potential clients, the services or goods your business will provide, the start-up costs, by when it will be established, etc. The more details you have, the clearer your vision. I specifically focus on leadership and life coaching. At this point in my life, family is important. Therefore, rather than make it a full time commitment I work around my family schedule. Although I work with some men, my primary audience is women because I want to help empower them and help them find their leadership voice. Once I started thinking about my vision it made it much easier for me to know who I wanted to approach, about why and how I relate to them.
Maybe you wish to only focus on what you don’t want in your life – great! Use that information to help you identify what you do want by taking the negative and turning it into a positive. For example, if you know that you don’t want to have a job with a lengthy commute, turn that into a position that will allow you to telecommute from home on a regular basis, involve a flexible work schedule, or one that has satellite offices. Or maybe you want to escape a toxic work environment and prosper in one that is healthy, conducive to professional development and where colleagues hold each other in high regard. The point is that the details provide strategic information.
A strategic life roadmap is what differentiates someone that is simply dreaming from someone that is going after what they want. It provides career/personal markers that make it difficult to get lost. By taking time to identify what your goals are, you will know what you want to achieve, making it easier to begin laying the groundwork of your roadmap. A clear vision gives you structure and specificity. You know which way to start moving and you gain insight as to what are some of the steps that have to happen to achieve it. Moreover, by identifying what your treasure is you identify potential measures of success. What you thought of as an unattainable dream soon becomes a series of manageable actions. As you take action you begin to have a sense of success and accomplishment.
Having different checkpoints on your journey makes your vision more manageable and realistic. As Lao-tzu stated, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step.” Sometimes we might think that our vision will take forever to reach, but each time we take action, even a small one, we are closer to it.
There is more than one way to identify your vision-clustering, mind-mapping, strategic planning, brainstorming, etc., methods. The process doesn’t matter since it’s about creating resonance for you.
As you think about your vision, keep the following in mind:
- Carve out time-yes, we keep bringing this one up and it is a key component. Move yourself from distractions, create a cozy place and focus on what is it that you want for yourself and/or your family. Consider the following questions:
- who will be in your life
- what will you be doing
- what stories are you sharing
- what stories will others say about you
- where will you live
- what does a typical day look like
- why is this vision important to you
- Visions are individual and they change/are modified-I modify my visions on an annual basis and as I achieve them (bought a house-check, had children-check, started a business-check; create my own workshops-in progress, etc.).
- You can have a vision for different areas of your life-I have one for personal areas of my life (mother, wife, volunteer) and professional (business owner, partner).
- Make it tangible-journal, create a vision board, digital product, paint it, take pictures of it, etc. It is more powerful when you can see it-whether written in your own writing, on a poster or image.
- Focus on the destination and not on how you will arrive (at first)-allow yourself to dream, to paint the picture of the life or accomplishment you desire. Once it you have it down, begin to consider how you will make it happen.
Your turn: What is your vision for 2015?
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