The first time I wrote what could be called a “vision statement,” I was filling out a profile for myself on OKCupid at the age of 22. I had just graduated from university, had moved to NYC for what I thought would be the adventure of a lifetime, and was looking for ways to explore the city and meet new people. Somewhere in my youthful brainspace, meeting people on OKCupid seemed like a good idea. My profile had a bunch of photos and some info about my love of salsa dancing, and then as a way of underlining my ambitions, at the bottom I included this little snippet:
I sent my profile into cyberspace, and went on with my life.
Fast forward seven years to my time in grad school. I decided to dust off the old OKCupid profile to give it a go again. I read through the info I’d posted, marveling at the version of myself that I was at the age of 22… the past seven years had certainly taught me a thing or two. But when I came across my “Things I plan to do before I’m 30” list, I couldn’t help but crack a smile. I had accomplished 4 out of the 5 things, and I still had a year to go before I was 30!
There is power in setting intentions… in taking the time to think about what you want, and articulating it clearly for yourself. Writing down your goals and dreams is a great way to force yourself to get some clarity because it’s hard to write down fuzz. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I had taken a big step toward creating the life I wanted for myself simply by putting together that five-item bullet list on my profile.
Another way is through coaching. As a coach, I talk with my clients about what they want all the time. I ask questions like:
- What is important about accomplishing that?
- What do you hope the outcome of your actions will be?
- What is your intention?
- How do you want to be perceived?
Questions like these are meant to help my clients get clear about what they want. Here’s my words of wisdom for today: The more clear you can be about what you want, the more likely it will come to pass. Here it is again, in case you missed it:
Probably one of the best-known worlds where having a clear vision has proven its power, is in elite athletics. In 1984, the Russians realized that Olympic athletes who mentally rehearsed their sport experienced a positive impact on their performance. Since then, the area has been widely studied. In the 1990s a researcher showed that just five minutes of mental visualization, versus five minutes of basic tasks yielded a significant difference in overall performance - and the dramatic increase in performance wasn't limited just to experienced professionals, the researcher showed that it applied to novices as well.
As Kara said, visioning is the secret ingredient to your awesomesauce. Well, it’s also the secret ingredient in coaching too - by applying the visualization strategies the athletes use to our lives as a whole. I ask my clients over and over again, and in a variety of ways, “What do you want?” I have them visualize to endless specificity. I ask about every last detail, and help them identify exactly what success looks like for them. Going through the work of visualizing the future hugely impacts the likelihood that it’ll happen.
So how do you visualize the future that you want?
Start by breaking your life into different areas. At wolf & heron, we like to think about our lives having 12 distinct areas, but you don’t have to be that complicated to start. Maybe start with these five:
- Health / Fitness
- Romantic Life
- Friends / Family
- Work / Career
Think about what a fulfilled, fantastic life would be in each of these areas of your life, and ask yourself these questions as if you’re living that perfection:
- What is the most important quality of this part of my life?
- How does it feel?
- What are my routines?
- How does this part of my life support or fuel the other parts?
- What parts of my character are most called-upon to live this piece of my life?
That should get you started. If you want to go deeper, here's a free, in-depth list of vision thought-starters.
-- Stephanie Judd, Co-founder, wolf & heron
Psssst...sign-up for a sample coaching session with us if you'd like some more support working on your vision and putting it into action.