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Perhaps you work too hard or maybe you’re struggling to find the right job. Either way, living your daily grind can feel a lot like a hamster wheel you just can’t seem to get off of. Being so close to the detail sometimes makes it very difficult to see the forest through the trees and periodically it makes sense to step off and gain some perspective. With a new year approaching, it is a natural time to reset as people everywhere create New Years resolutions.
So, where to begin?
Writing a personal vision, one that encompass all of your aspirations in all areas of your life can feel daunting or come off as somewhat contrived, but I assure you there has been no better task in my experience when it comes to making change and achieving better outcomes.
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Creating a Personal Vision for Work/Life in 10 Steps
1- Get off the wheel!
Yes, you will need to get off the wheel. If you’re unemployed this might be easier. If you are working, carve out the time to complete these steps and let go of your regular routine. Set aside at least 7-10 days for this window.
2- Put extra effort into self care.
Use this time to really take care of yourself. If you know how to cook and eat healthy, do it. If you have a gym membership – go. If you are into massages or facials, schedule them.
3- Get up early in the morning and write.
Before your brain can begin it’s usual daily chatter you need to head it off at the pass. Get up at least an hour earlier than you usually do and spend that hour writing. Write at least 750 words and write without judgement. Do not censor yourself or adhere to any other parameters with the exception of writing at least 750 words.
4- Read everything you wrote and identify patterns.
After 10 days of writing, go back and read it all. Schedule a weekend and be someplace comfortable. Now is when you want to look for patterns and be honest with yourself about what you are reading. In particular look for common themes you seem to be struggling with and clearly identify what it is you want to change about these themes. Make a list of these challenges.
5- Map your successes.
Make a list of the major accomplishments you have had in your life, in particular the one’s you feel a strong personal sense of accomplishment for achieving. Next to each one, write down what you did to achieve the outcome and be specific about any skill you used or ability you feel you demonstrated.
6- Write your vision.
Identify major categories such as Home, Career, Finances, Relationships, Travel, etc. Below each category write an aspirational sentence about who you want to be in that area. It’s a good idea to be short and to the point. For example: “I have job that leverages my unique talents” or “I am a loving spouse”. It’s also important that what you write be entirely about you and not place any specific expectations on others.
7- Create an action plan using SMART goals.
In a separate place, such a planner or on a check list, write out 1-2 small actions you can take in the coming week specific to each category. Match the skills you listed from your successes to your goals in the areas you want to improve and then use those skills to create your actions. For example; if your vision for your career is “I have a job that leverages my unique talents” and previously you had done something like use Pinterest to plan your wedding, then one action step you might take this week is to search for careers on line using your unique talents as the primary search word and begin pinning what you find to a board on Pinterest. Pinning career options as first step is specific and measurable. You can even set a goal to pin at least one per day so that it is measurable and at the end of the week you can feel like you are making progress. What I’m describing here is a technique known as writing SMART goals and building on your strengths to make progress in areas you struggle. As you achieve each goal you will need to create a new one that takes you one step further.
8- Read your vision twice a day.
Have your vision written down someplace by your bed. Read it as you go to bed and every morning when you get up. As you fall asleep, ask yourself “did I stick to my vision today?” After you read your vision in the morning, pick up your goals for the day and get started.
9- Tell others about your vision.
While my friends and family are somewhat used to me using the phrases “I did this to support my vision today” or “that’s not in alignment with my vision” it did take some time to make this a natural part of how I talk and I don’t go without the occasional chuckle or joke about it. It’s important not to take yourself too seriously but it’s also important to share what you are trying to achieve with those in your life. If you don’t tell them, they won’t know how to support you. Let them surprise you , they want to see you succeed.
10- Celebrate small wins right away.
Set up rewards for yourself early. For small wins I like to eat dark chocolate. For big wins I take myself out to a nice dinner and sometimes my friends do that part for me. Repurpose part of your regular routine to support your goals. For example, if you go to Happy Hour on Fridays make going to Happy Hour a reward for hitting your goals that week. If you don’t hit them – withhold the reward and try again the next week. You can also reward yourself with your favorite TV shows.
Bonus Tip – Stick to your vision for a 6 months before modifying.
While it is ok to modify your goals as you go, stick to your vision for a solid period of time. It’s important that you experience the struggles and successes associated with long term objectives. We live in a world jam packed with instant gratification. You may need to teach yourself how to enjoy delayed gratification. If you commit to 6 months before modifying eventually you will be able to commit to a year then two years and work your way up to a 5-10 year plan.
Best of luck to you creating your vision. It’s not likely to be easy every day but with practice, dedication and a little patience you will make the life you want for yourself.
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.” – William Arthur Ward