Only visionaries have a vision, you might think. But is vision something that’s reserved for the top few? I dare to say that humanity would’ve ceased to exist a long time ago had it not been driven by a vision—a vision for a better future, fulfillment, and growth. But how did it all start? Was there always a vision?
The North Star—A Guiding Beacon
Around the year 170 AD, Claudius Ptolemy, a Greek mathematician, astronomer, and astrologer, cataloged the North Star or Polaris for the first time. It was only much later, though, around the 5th century AD, that Macedonia’s Stobaeus would describe the star as always visible. Although it’s known as a star by name, it is, in fact, a triple star system, with Polaris A being a giant superstar.
Because the North Star is positioned approximately in a direct line with the Earth’s axis, it stands almost unmoved in the sky, and all the other stars seem to revolve around it. That has made the North Star an excellent navigation tool because by looking toward it, a navigator could identify the north from the middle of the sea and, thus, figure out which way to go.
Although by the year 4000, the North Star will shift slightly away from the axis, and Gamma Cephei will become the new North Star, it will be a long time before we get there.
But that’s how life is, anyway. Every day you have your own little North Star in different aspects of your life. When you leave the house, you set your GPS to take you to work. When you get on a bus, you rely on the bus driver to take you to your destination.
But these are prominent examples using our physical space. But is there a mental North Star? How about a whole-life North Star?
Well, that’s what having a vision is all about.
What’s in a Vision?
When you think about where you’ve been and what has shaped your life, you reflect on your history. You are digging into your past to uncover patterns or to understand what has influenced you. It’s looking back and deciphering; it’s discovery. You are looking for answers about facts and events that can no longer be changed.
On the other hand, when you think about life beyond today and where you’d like to be, you envision yourself in that future.
Where you are today, in the present, is a result of your past. Where you will be tomorrow is a result of your actions from today and in your history.
Of course, since you cannot predict the future, you can’t know precisely where you will wind up tomorrow. But what if you don’t even know what you’d like tomorrow to look like? What would you do today then? Would it even matter?
That’s the exciting thing about vision and future visualization-whether you have one, time still passes. Today will end, and you will find yourself tomorrow. If you haven’t thought of where you wanted to be… where are you?
It’s an interesting concept and quite trivial when you narrow it down purely to today and tomorrow. Most people’s lives will likely be just fine if they don’t sit down every single day to visualize tomorrow or next week or even a month sometimes. That is not to say that visualizing your tomorrow is a bad thing; I am saying that not visualizing every tomorrow will not always lead you to a bad place.
Start Your Vision with The End
Yes, you can think about where you want to be at the end of this week, month, or year regarding your relationships, knowledge, financial success, and everything in between. But those are all steppingstones. I don’t think there has been any person that set up a vision for their current year, and when the year had ended, they said, “That’s it. Now my life is complete.” That is not possible because life isn’t complete until you close your eyes for the last time, and that is the critical moment that we all dread and fear.
The last moment.
In his bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey gives his readers a challenge, which I’ve done many times and still find fascinating every time I repeat it. He asked his readers to picture themselves at their own funeral. Try it out. It’s creepy, but it works.
Imagine that your spirit is floating above the ceremony, and you can observe it. Some of your closest relatives, your best friends, and co-workers get up on the stage to make a eulogy for you.
What will they say? Actually, what would you like them to say? There are no real rules since it all depends on you, but here are some examples:
“He was a great father who gave all of his attention to his children.”
“She was a shrewd businesswoman who stopped at nothing to build a great company.”
“He was a bestselling author who inspired millions of people with his heartfelt stories.”
Or, maybe, “He was a murdering bastard who killed millions.”
It’s all relative, right?
You see, once you pass on from this world, you’re gone. All that’s left is your legacy. Your life returns to a singularity in that final second of your life. That moment when you realize, “Oh, crap. There is nothing left for me to do.”
Your Legacy is Your Vision
If someone asks you what you will leave behind, the only answer you can give is everything. It doesn’t matter what everything is. It’s everything.
If the words in your obituary, which you put in the mouths of the people closest to you, are what you would like them to say, then why not be that anyway?
That is the real power of vision. That is what vision is—imagining your life in the future-picturing everything to the smallest detail. Where would you like to live? What kind of knowledge or education will you have? Will you be working for somebody else or yourself? Will you have a family? A pet? Will you fly a rocket-ship to Mars?
No matter what it is, understand that vision alone will not get you there. You will have to bridge the gap between where you are today and where you want to be in the future. That will imply creating a mission for yourself, comprised of many goals that span all aspects of your life.
But before you can define the how (the mission), you must know the what (the vision).
You can’t set proper goals if you don’t have a vision. And I bet you had visions before, just perhaps they weren’t that comprehensive. When you went to school, you had an idea about graduating and getting a great job. That was already a segment of vision. When you met your first boyfriend or girlfriend, you had a vision of your future together. You had bits and pieces of visions here and there.
However, when I’m talking about a life vision, I’m talking about the actual end-point—the big, overall vision.
Graduating from high-school or college is the achievement of a goal. The goal itself is just fuel toward your vision. Unfortunately, most people stop right there, around the twenty-five-year mark, and for the remainder of their lives, they let life drive them and forget about their North Star.
Creating a Vision
Besides going through the exercise that Dr. Covey proposed, you can do several other things to create a vision for yourself.
I like to start by dividing my life into its subparts.
Each one of these segments contains parts of your life that are distinct yet interconnected. You can see it in this way:
Or you can break it down like this:
- Physical Wellness
- Emotional Health
- Family & Friends
- Skills & Knowledge
- Business & Career
- Finance & Wealth
- Contribution & Environment
- Fun & Entertainment
As you read through these, you can probably picture how they apply to your life, right? By looking at your life in this manner, creating a vision no longer becomes so daunting. You can take each piece and begin asking yourself questions such as these:
Physical wellness—how do I want to be at the end of my life? How much will I weigh? How fit will I be?
Family—how many children will I have with my spouse? Where will we live? What kind of house will we have?
Career—what will my profession be? What level will I attain?
It may sound silly and weird to think in detail about the location and type of house you’ll have in the future. Of course, everyone wants a lovely home in a cozy place. But that’s too vague. It’s the same as saying, “My vision for the future is to be great.”
That’s not good enough. Your brain can only focus on specific tasks, and when you give it something concrete and funnel emotion into it, it can start putting gas behind it. You begin to believe it. Once you believe it, your brain will trust you and work to fulfill it.
Your vision is not just a straight set of sentences that dryly describe you in the future. It’s the description plus the way that the vision makes you feel. By connecting the vision with how you imagine you’d feel when you attain it, you give your brain a craving.
Now you want it; it’s not just a maybe. It’s a must. There is now something to go after.
Your Vision’s Purpose
This concept may sound counterintuitive at first, but it’s obvious once you think about it. Different people want different things, that’s clear. But even when different people want the same thing, they may want it for very different reasons.
A person who wants to become a doctor might want to do so because they genuinely want to heal people. Another person might want to become a doctor because they know that it’s a profession where you can earn a lot of money. Those two different reasons will not only influence how you behave once you enter that role but also what you will do to get it.
Having a great purpose behind your vision and understanding that purpose is a critical element of your vision. If you don’t understand why you want something, you won’t know how to get it.
Just as you are much more likely to do something if the person who asked you explains the reason for that request, your brain acts in a similar fashion relative to your vision.
After you create a vision for all aspects of your life, you must sit down and dig into the reasons behind each of them. Write them down, understand them, and make sure you are truly honest with yourself.
The Power of Present for The Future
There’s an immediacy about today that is quite elusive tomorrow. That is similar to a novel written in the present tense. The action seems much faster than if it were written in the past tense. When you refer to anything in the present tense, it feels more real.
Consider the following statements:
“I am healthy and fit and weigh 175 lb.”
“I will be healthy and fit and weigh 175 lb.”
“I would like to be healthy and fit and weigh 175 lb.”
Which one of them is more real, and which one resonates the most? Let’s analyze them.
Present tense (“I am”)—this implies that the respective vision has already happened. There is no question about it, and there is no escape, no back door. It’s already here.
Future tense (“I will”)—this implies a desire to do something in the future, but because of that future outlook, there is no absolute value as to its actual resolution. You need to take the extra step of holding yourself accountable to accomplish it.
Present tense modal (“I would”)—although this is in the present tense, it’s a feeble way of expressing a desire. It would imply that there is always the possibility of would not.
Given these examples, I hope it’s evident that you must write all your vision statements in the present tense. Here are some more examples:
- I run a successful business grossing $1M every year.
- I live in a beautiful beach home with my wife and kids.
- I run three marathons every year.
You get the point. By writing these vision statements this way, you tell your brain that you already have them. Of course, your brain won’t easily fall for this gimmick, but there’s a part of it that understands the way you feel when you read these. By envisioning yourself in that place already, you create the emotion behind the achievement. Doing it repeatedly will force your brain to crave it genuinely. Soon, the vision by itself won’t be enough anymore. You’ll need to put appropriate action behind the goals to drive you toward that vision.
But, still, a vision is and should always be the very first step.
Your Vision Statement As A Tool
Look, you’ve read this a thousand times: people who write their goals down are 42% more likely to accomplish them, according to Dr. Gail Matthews of Dominican University, Ca. Be skeptical if you wish, but the reality is—and science backs it up—when you write things down and review them regularly, they stick in your consciousness. The longer they linger in your consciousness, the more they start to seep into your subconsciousness. Soon enough, they may even tap into your unconsciousness, and that is magnificent.
Imagine if you could unconsciously move toward your vision and accomplish your goals. Well, this requires serious repetition, which is why writing things down becomes so critical.
As explained above, your vision is nothing but a set of sentences that describe you in various areas of your life in the future. Creating a cohesive vision statement is nothing but stringing those sentences together into a full paragraph or page.
Don’t worry about the priority here. No part of your vision is more important than the other. The vision is a complete entity. Group it as you wish, write it down in any order that makes sense to you, but make sure you look at it as one single block.
Priority will come later when you set up your goals. But the vision is the overarching motivation for your entire life.
Start by writing different sentences for each area of your life. Don’t rush. Take your time, and sleep on it for a day or two. Then, come back and revise them. Once you start to get something that makes sense, put them together into several paragraphs or even bullet points if that works better for you.
Soon enough, you will have a page or pages. When you read that page out loud, you should be shivering with emotion. That’s who you want to be. Actually, that’s who you are.
Once your vision statement is in its final draft format, work on your WHY statement. The WHY statement answers the question, “Why do I want this?” for each line of your vision statement.
Last but not least, you may consider visually documenting your personal life vision through a vision board. I love vision boards, and I believe they serve as an additional way of keeping you motivated and focused on your goals and dreams.
The Effectiveness of Repetition
Your vision statement and your WHY statement should be printed and readily available for you to read at any time. You could have a copy glued on the inside of your closet. Another laminated one could be inside your backpack and another in your drawer. Yet another one could be by your bedside.
The point is for you to re-read your vision statement daily to create the effect of the unconscious. Also, when you feel down—and you will, as your road is never going to be easy—your vision and WHY statements are like an anchor that ground you back to your future self. Make their review a true habit.
Every time you feel lost or led astray, use your vision statement to return to that powerful emotion of the fantastic future self. The written vision is ten times more powerful than affirmations because affirmations are dry and impersonal, although they push a valid message.
Your vision is yours. You made it, and you connected with it. Therefore, it’s more potent than any pep talk. Use it, and you will never feel lost. You will always have your personal North Star to guide you on your life’s journey. That is precious.
Other Vision Related Resources
- Craft an Inspiring Personal Vision for Your Life RIGHT NOW
- Five Reasons Why You Need A Personal Vision Statement (And How To Write One)
Now, before you go, I have…
3 Questions For You
- Have you ever created a life vision for yourself? How did that make you feel?
- What is your favorite technique for creating a vision? What has worked for you in the past?
- If you don’t have a crystal clear vision, what has stopped you from creating one?
Please share your answers in the comments below. Sharing knowledge helps us all improve and get better!
Hi there! I’m Iulian, and I want to thank you for reading my article. There’s a lot more if you stick around. I write about personal development, productivity, fiction writing, and more. Also, I’ve created Self-Growth Journey, a free program that helps you get unstuck and create the beautiful life you deserve. Enjoy!