Make things more beautiful. This is what life is about. It’s what I strive for myself and it’s what I wish for each of you.
To me, “making things more beautiful” is shorthand for lighting yourself up and shining that light out – for letting your best, your truest self out into the world
After the birth of my first child 4 years ago, I quit my job in health care and higher education consulting and launched a design studio. Only instead of designing rooms or objects, I decided to focus on helping people design the lives they want to lead. My lens into this work was then – and continues to be – an interest in human behavior. Sure there are circumstances that surround us and influence us, but I remain committed to the belief that the bigger catalyst for what’s possible for each of us comes from within. We set our own paths ablaze and we also create our own limitations.
Vision has always been a key inspiration source for me personally so it’s not surprising that when I launched Point Road Studios this resource showed up a lot in my work. (It’s so human to imagine that what works for us is also what will work for others!) At its core, vision is about naming desire. What do you want? Untethered from the “shoulds” and “musts” of others, vision is about really seeing into the details of who we hope to become. It’s extraordinarily personal and vulnerable.
In working with coaching clients, I create an environment from them to explore this question and then build on it. Where am I? Who am I with? What am I doing? I trust that my clients can answer these questions and it’s never failed to be true. When we quiet the buzzing of our every day lives and look inward, there is a well of deep wisdom that lies within each of us. As we begin to unearth what we want, it helps to get very specific. I think of this as holding your vision under a microscope lens. What textures surround you? What smells are wafting through the air? What do you physically look like? What clothes are you wearing? What expression sits on your face?
There are many ways to go about setting your vision. Meditations. Collages. Journal entries. Drawings. Bullet Points. The opportunities are expansive and I find that curating the mix of these resources that works for you, in this season you are in today, is key.
What I have built is a process to steward you on that path. It’s a series of 5 “access points” to vision creation that you can follow in any order that suits your fancy. (Well almost any order; we’ll get to that.) You are not a static person. Neither are the businesses we create or the organizations we lead. We are human, dynamic and changing. Thank goodness for that! It is in changing that we continue to grow. For this reason, at the core of my process is an acknowledgement that your vision, like you, will continue to change and evolve. It’s not a set point to move towards blindly. It’s more of a guiding star whose position will continue to change as the world turns. This doesn’t mean we can’t run towards it. We absolutely can! But it does mean we need to keep ourselves open that it will continue to move and shift as we do and that means staying alert to this possibility. In this way, my vision process is less about hitting a final end destination and more about stepping into a visionary way of being.
It is my strong hope that this process will steward you where ever you heart wants to go.
Without further adieu – here is my process, The Vision Cycle.
There are 5 different access points to setting vision
1. Get Clear
2. Look Back
3. Right Now
4. Step Forward
5. Go Beyond
Each access point represents a place for exploration
Here are the headlines for what each of these access points is about:
Get Clear – This is the space to name all that you already know. What do you see when you think about the vision you hold for yourself. It’s amazing how much we already know about what we want. It’s just that more often than not the answer to this question is obscured by the noises that surround it. This access point allows us to quiet ourselves and really see what is possible.
Look Back – It’s so common to imagine that vision is a purely future-oriented exercise. But that is not the case. Our pasts offer us such rich wells of wisdom from which to learn. Moreover, our pasts are often the blueprints we are unconsciously operating from for how we move into our future. The Look Back access point is all about playing with and learning from where you have been. You might answer, how does my past inform where I am headed? You might also explore, what past habits are getting in the way of how I want to move forward? And, what will I choose to do about that?
Right Now – We can’t move into our futures from anywhere but the present moment. For this reason, it is critical to get up close and personal with the truths of the here and now. Maybe you imagine a dramatic shift in your future, but in the present you are concerned about your financial freedom to pursue that path. Maybe you realize that in the present you have every opportunity afforded to you, but no passion for wanting to move on any of them. Perhaps in your present you realize you have tremendous momentum towards where you want to go and it’s really a matter of seizing the moment and continuing to do what you are already doing. By looking at your present focus, you will draw insights about both what you really want and also what is holding you back and/or propelling you towards that future.
Step Forward – This is the playground of action. Moving towards our desired vision requires us to make movement. The Step Forward access point helps us to sketch out what steps we can take in the short, medium and long-term to carry us to the final end destination that we are imagining. We think through what resources we need to complete these actions. Who or what might be able to support us along the way. And how will we measure our success or progress towards our vision. There is plenty of elasticity built into this access point, for each step we take may cause the other ones that we have imagined to evolve. The fun here is to both take action and keep attune to each action’s cascading effect.
Go Beyond – This is the heart of the Vision Cycle. It’s the place of pushing boundaries and asking ourselves to look beyond what is known to what is possible. Banished from this access point are can’ts and shouldn’ts and never-have-befores. Go Beyond is the place to stretch what is possible, see past what has always been, and dream into something bigger, wilder, and more awesome than has ever been imagined before.
There is no “right” order to follow
I call these 5 areas access points and not steps for a reason. Vision isn’t usually a linear process. It’s dynamic and messy and jumps around. If you want order, you can create it, moving from Be Clear to Go Beyond in a chronological fashion. But if you have found yourself obsessed with all the things standing in your way in the here and now, maybe you decide to cozy up with Right Now first. Maybe it’s been a long time since you just sat around and played. Maybe you are missing that and decide to launch into your process with a Look Back to the things that made you laugh as a child. There are many paths through the Vision Cycle and none of them are better or worse than the others. The key is following the journey that feels right for you.
And know that in beginning to exercise your muscle of choosing your path through the Vision Cycle you are also building the very strength required to live into a visionary way of being. You can do it!
There is only one rule: Start with naming your vision
As much as I love a messy, circuitous path, boundaries are great drivers of creativity. And I have just one in the Vision Cycle; namely, the starting point. It’s important in setting your vision that you begin by getting clear on the kind of vision you want to create.
Here are the 4 steps to help get you there:
1) Name the kind of vision you want to create
We can create all kinds of visions. Visions for our work. Our career. Our family. Our relationships. Our home. Our whole lives. And the list goes on. It helps to begin your vision process by naming the kind of vision you are after. It’s a boundary that will serve you well in really seeing what it is that want for that specific area of your life (or your whole life, if you choose this focus). You can always return to this starting point to create a new vision, focused on a different area, so go where your energy is at the time of the vision creation.
2) Set a time horizon
Once you know what kind of a vision you want to create, it’s important to hone in on the time horizon that is meaningful for you. Ask yourself, what timing is meaningful for this vision I want to create? You will know the answer. For some, a special future event or milestone emerges (e.g. my 60th birthday, when my child graduates from high school, etc). For others, it’s something more broad like 3-5 years or 10 years or “when I retire.” Sometimes a person’s timeframe is closer in (e.g. the end of the calendar year, when I graduate from my program, the time of my next performance review). It doesn’t matter what the time line is. What matters is that it is clear and specific and makes sense to you. Speaking of clarity, a good follow up to setting your time horizon is to pick a specific date. 3-5 years isn’t as powerful as January 1, 2020. Choosing a specific date also allows you to get grounded in a few other specifics, like how old you will be at that time. What about your loved ones? What milestones do you anticipate will happen between now and then?
3) Answer: What do I want?
Specifically you want to answer what you want for the type of vision you have selected in the timeframe you have set. For example, What do I want for my whole life by my 47th birthday? What do I want for my work by the end of this calendar year?
Allow yourself to write down whatever pops into your head or your heart. It might be a string of images or words. Maybe a detailed description in full sentences emerges. Capture it. Let the stream of consciousness flow. When you think you have it all down, ask yourself, “what else?” And keep going. Repeat this process a few times until you feel you have emptied out all your thoughts onto the page.
Now look at all you have written. What do you notice? Any themes? Key ideas? Taking in the whole of what emerged see if you can’t boil down your answer into a few words or a single key phrase.
4) Name your Vision Statement
Having moved through steps 1-3, you have done the work to name your guiding vision statement. Simply string your answers together and you will see it emerge. For example, one such statement might read:
For my *whole life* I want *freedom and flexibility* by *January 1, 2020.*
Once you have your vision statement in tow, you are ready to jump into the Vision Cycle Access Points in whatever order your heart desires.
I hope you will find this process fun and supportive. If you feel so moved, please share with me how you are using this resource to set your own visions into motion. I’d love to hear from you!
And, as ever, remember: There is nothing stopping you. So go on ahead and get after whatever it is that you really want.