Creating the Vision for Your Future and Measuring Progress

In a world where we are constantly comparing ourselves to others on social media, it’s easy to focus on all the things we don’t have or haven’t experienced. However, I like to use social media as a way to be inspired by others who have created an intentional life for themselves. I enjoy seeing how people grow and challenge themselves to build the life they envision versus the rest of us that may simply be going through the motions every day without significant progress.

Each of us has unique perspectives and passions in life and may connect with a wide variety of experiences. Personally, I love seeing people who embrace life with less, supporting the community and living a healthy, intentional life. People who enjoy being out in nature and appreciating the simple things our world has to offer us every day if we are willing to embrace them. These individuals motivate me to consider how I live my life today, and how I may challenge myself to propel closer to my desired vision.

In today’s post, I want to walk through creating your vision, breaking it into larger phases and eventually smaller goals that are more tangible. Finally, we’ll touch on the resources you have and how to use them to meet your goals. Whether your goals focus on finance, experiences, career, or health, I hope you find value in thinking through this process.

Creating the Vision

Creating a vision significantly increases the probability of successfully achieving your goals. If we wake up every day continuing through the motions without intentional effort to get us towards a certain goal, we can spend years of our lives wondering why it didn’t happen to us. Our vision can certainly change over the years, but taking the time to think about our perspectives today will help us finetune that vision for the future.

We can pick from a wide variety of ways to create and define our vision. In the past, many people would clip pictures from magazines, but I’m going to guess that in today’s digital world, we don’t have many of these just sitting around anymore. Consider one of the following:

  • Write it out. Grab a pen and paper, or start a blog post or journal entry online.
  • Clip pictures online and create a digital vision board. Consider others on social media who have inspired you.
  • Draw it out. Personally, I’m challenging myself to communicate more through storytelling and drawing, which may apply to your scenario and help you stretch those creativity muscles.
  • Find an app or service to create a gallery of pictures. I found this easy enough through my blog platform and have shown my example below.

Having trouble thinking about what to include in your vision? While it may sound strange, take a few minutes to visualize your funeral service. How do you want others to remember you? What would they say about you? What will you have wanted to experience, contribute, accumulate, or learn? Where were you during the later years of your life and who did you spend your time with?

I’m an engineer by education, so I’m guilty of having a mindset focused on product development to address customer problems. Can you imagine the future problems in your life before you experience them? 10 years ago, none of us would imagine a life without a smartphone as a “problem” and yet here we are. How might your vision support any future problems you anticipate? For example, do you anticipate health challenges in the future? How about the ability to stay connected with family? Does your vision support these anticipated challenges or create new ones?

My Vision Board:

Breaking it Down

Having a vision is great, but change doesn’t happen overnight. While we would all love to drop 20 pounds after one week of eating healthy, we must apply lifestyle changes to make our vision a reality. Habits and lifestyle changes take time to develop, so breaking down our vision into larger chunks is essential to making our vision attainable.

Years ago, I was a pack-a-day smoker who wouldn’t have given a second thought to exercise. While I’m experiencing a recent setback through the pandemic, I still hold onto my vision of living a long and healthy life. Ideally in the future, I would like to hike and explore new terrain, but I need to build up to this gradually. I love the idea of going on a 6-month backpacking journey, I’d be lucky to make it 2 days before a serious feeling of regret. Instead of feeling envious of others who live this lifestyle, I have broken down my vision into realistic chunks. I envision a life where I have more freedom to give back to the community, but also need to find a way to sustain that more flexible lifestyle.

My day job involves being strategic and helpings others see how we can break big dreams into more tangible phases that then drive our yearly, monthly, weekly, and even daily actions. Let’s do the same for ourselves. Next, let’s dive deeper into the first phase of our journey.

Defining the Next Few Years

Once brainstorming the larger phases in our life as aligned to our vision, we can start to focus on the near term, whether that is the next 2 years, 5 years, or 10 years.

Check out the chart below where I brainstormed out my 2-year, 5-year, and 10-year goals for the first phase of my vision. My inspiration for this came from the book “Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want“, however in that version they break a similar chart down for 6-month, 12-month, and 3-years. Use the dates that make the most sense for you at this moment.

I enjoy how this gets us to think in terms of do, have, and be. It’s possible to break this down into specific categories such as family, career, financial, etc, however by keeping it vague, I feel like I have the flexibility to be creative and define my priorities.

The process of creating a few significant things to focus on over multiple years also helps me ensure I am successful. If we set too many goals for ourselves at a time, this can potentially jeopardize our progress if we can’t clearly remember our next steps. Ideally, these goals can be translated into more tangible accomplishments or habits that we then can track to confirm our progress.

I know I still have room to improve my short-term goals to confirm I am spending my weeks and months today to best align to my ideal path. Maybe I’ll continue to cut out alcohol but who knows, I still love my beer so maybe I’ll change my mind in the future! Luckily, this is my path and I’m free to define it and change it however I please.

What Resources Do We Have?

  • Money is a tool to help us along with our vision. We can use it to buy things, or we can use it to buy the freedom to pursue other passions. We can also use it to give back to our community in a tangible way if financial donations are your thing.
  • Skills can take years to develop and master. Sometimes we must invest in ourselves to create lasting results that will benefit us for many years. Volunteering can also provide an opportunity to develop new skills outside of our typical scope of work.
  • People can play a critical role in our success. The people with who we surround ourselves with inspire us to create new challenges and see what we are capable of.
  • Mentors are a fantastic opportunity to learn new things or experience a new lifestyle. When considering a career change, or even a lifestyle change, people are always willing to share their experiences and knowledge.
  • Our family should be part of our vision to help it come to reality. While in many ways this post focuses on my vision, it helps me articulate it to others who care about me so they understand what will provide me a fulfilling life.
  • Creating channels to learn and grow will allow us to continuously evolve. Not only will we better understand and identify with our vision, but we will challenge ourselves to take the steps timely to reach our goals.
  • Invest in tools that add value to your life and help you achieve your vision.
  • Be aware of how we spend our time. A few focused hours during the week can translate a small habit into significant changes long term.
  • Our mind, body, and health. We only get one, and it’s pretty important to prioritize it and treat it well. Don’t sacrifice our health on the journey because we can’t replace it when we achieve our goals.

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