“The greatest power in our lives is our capacity to imagine,
vision or dream, not only when we are young but over and
over again throughout the life cycle. It is an essential
lifestyle ingredient for the self-renewing adult.”
—Frederic M. Hudson, Ph.D.
A Vision is a picture of how we want our lives to look in the future. It involves not just the visual sense but also our sense of hearing, taste, smell and our feelings. Visioning is a tool for inspiration. If we can feel the sense of delight we seek in the life we are imagining, we can be energized into continuing the work to its fruition. The future is a space waiting to be formed into the life we seek.
A vision and a dream are different. In a dream you can be anything, do anything and have anything. It is a fantasy. Whether or not it is attainable is unimportant. Dreams are part of our creative process. They can light us up; feed our passions; make us feel good; and provide escape if we want it.
Visions are closer to reality in that they are possible. They are imaginings. Imagine yourself in five years. Where would you like to see yourself? How will it look to you? If you really work at it, really stretch and get out of your comfort zone, how will it be for you? You get to create it, imagining all the details of your life at that time. A vision can be a really important part of planning your future work, because it can serve as a guiding light. It can be a beacon toward which we can build a road by setting goals, and paving the road with the steps to get us there.
When creating a vision, it is vital to paint a picture in our minds of the feeling we have in our hearts, our dreams about how we want our lives to go. It is more of a yearning than a specific thought; more of a spiritual need that begins our visioning process. A vision ought to be beyond our lives right now but possible to attain. Visions need to encompass our values and our purpose, thereby becoming an important motivator that can propel us forward. In some way, our vision must make complete sense to us. Almost a sense of, “Of course, this is what I need to do with my life going forward.”
Our vision, then, begins with a dream. Based on this dream, we imagine what could be attainable but is yet beyond our current circumstances. That’s our vision. From the vision can we develop a plan, which takes shape with actions, and finally becomes an achievement. We need not be afraid to dream. Our dreams can point us in some very powerful directions.
Most children have dreams. Sometimes these dreams turn into realities but all too often, we get so busy with school and life’s business that we forget about our dreams. Sometimes we think dreaming is for kids or for losers. Quite the contrary, our dreams are so valuable, because they can be the stuff of successful future endeavors.
Many people end up living a life that is a result of happenstance rather than planning. I have had people tell me they are afraid that they will have to give up their spontaneity if they become involved in this kind of creative visioning and planning. What I have found is more or less the opposite. My anxiety level before I began to plan for my future was high because I had no real idea of what I wanted for my life. Now that I do know, I feel calmer because I live in action rather than fear and uncertainty. I feel motivated much of the time. And it is easier for me to make decisions. I feel more fulfilled, because this is really what I want. I have created my own vision. It is not predicated on anyone else’s expectations of me. Oddly enough, as I tell people about my vision, I get more support for it than I have known before.
“Vision is our creative power. Vision is our ability as human beings
to want, sense, imagine and bring into being new forms, structures
and possibilities in partnership with life. Vision enables us to
cooperate with life’s higher purpose, reaching far beyond our own
limits toward our highest and most passionate aspirations.”
When we think of vision, it is easy to think of the great leaders, of how their vision helped them make a contribution to the world. In fact, everyone has vision. We simply need to learn to use it. The exciting thing about vision is that it fuels our passion and helps us to move beyond where we may be stuck at this moment. Remember it is a part of our creative selves. One need not be a painter or musician to have a creative self. Vision only demands of us that we allow it to evolve within us and that we have the faith to pay attention to it. Remember, it starts in the heart, not in the head.
We can have a vision for ourselves, other people, our community, the world. It reflects what is most meaningful to us. If we hold a vision, it really can be possible to make our most important contributions to the world.
The tool of vision can mark the beginning of forming our next phase of conscious evolution. In our vision we can develop the focus for our lives and can therefore, in a very practical way, set out from there to develop our plan. When our lives are in transition, we need a vision to help us to determine whether or not our lives are on track.
A vision ought to contain all of the future life we are building, not just one job or one project, although we can use this tool to create one project within our larger vision. A vision is holistic because it reaches into all parts of our lives.
It is within our grasp to be happy with what we are doing. We need not feel unfulfilled. In order to get to a life that is fulfilling, we need to have a clear vision of where we are headed.
I have a friend who was a sales director for a large company. She was extremely successful in that job but felt seriously unfulfilled. She felt that way for years. Gradually, she formed a vision for herself where she was able to give service in the world. The vision she created slowly evolved to the point where she saw herself as a psychotherapist and could help others. At this time, she is almost finished with her degree and is working as an intern. She has found her calling. She feels fulfilled, excited by the work she does now.
As recovering people, we practice living life one day at a time. I know that I need to stay committed to that. However, I have found that the process of visioning in order to create a plan for my future has not affected my ability to live in the present. In fact, it has helped me to create action steps in the present that I can work on one day at a time. I live in the present while, at the same time, plan for the future. I feel as though I am living a life on purpose.
“The difference between chance and choice lies largely in your
level of commitment to creating the future.”
The first step in creating your vision is to pay close attention to the ideas that resonate within you. You can begin your process with the end in mind. The starting place is the here and now. The goal, if you will, is the end – where you want to finish.
Remember that the more specific you are in your vision, the better. For example, if you visualize yourself with your own business, it is vital that you begin to think about what kind of business you’d like it to be, how large it should be, where it would be located and so on.
Writing is a great tool in becoming more specific and focused. You might be pleasantly surprised by this process. It tends to reveal our deeper desires and thoughts that we might not have otherwise realized. When I work with people on their visions, I suggest certain exercises to help them enter their vision. Creating your vision, one which will be helpful in your process, can take hours, days or even weeks. However, this kind of quiet, reflection time is invaluable. As you proceed, you will experience several benefits from this process.
Among the benefits are:
- Identifying your direction and purpose
- Emerging from limited thinking
- Better time management
- Help in examining where you are now and where you want to go
When there is a discrepancy in our lives between how things are and how we want them to be, we have the choice to remain dissatisfied or begin the work of change. Purposeful change is rewarding. But first we have to hold a vision of what we want our lives to be. When our vision begins to take form, we need only flow with it. Then our dream can become a possibility, and we can set goals which lead us to our vision. To reach those goals we create action steps toward them. Once we are on this path, all sorts of possibilities can begin to evolve. Eventually we get to the stage of walking toward our vision. At that point, we are living a life by design rather than by default.
Ellis, Dave, Creating Your Future: Five steps to the life of your dreams.
Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998.
Hudson, Frederic M., PhD, The Handbook of Coaching: A comprehensive resource guide for managers, executives, consultants, and human resource professionals. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999.
Leider, Richard J., The Power of Purpose: Creating meaning in your life and work. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publisher, Inc., 1997, 2004.
Marks, Linda, Living With Vision: Reclaiming the power of the heart.
Indianapolis: Knowledge Systems, Inc., 1989.
Whitworth, Laura; Kimsey-House, Henry; Sandahl, Phil; Co-Active Coaching. Palo Alto: Davies-Black Publishing, 1998.