Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I Had a Vision!

Nah... not the hallelujah! kind. 

In the place where I work, we are very into having a "vision" for what you want to accomplish. At first, I thought this was a really hokey idea. People kept saying things like "well, my vision for my role is ..." and "I need to step back and clarify my vision." I wanted to shout: What is everyone talking about?!? 

But now, I'm a convert. I've come to see the (cough, cough) light. I now have a vision not only for my role at work, but I create visions for my non-work life as well.

I don't want to jinx it, but I think that one of those visions (my vision of finding a home in 2012) may be becoming a reality. I think I have found a house that meets the vision I set out for my home. And if it doesn't work out ... well, I'll keep looking.
Not this kind of vision!

Now, I don't think there's anything particularly magic about having a vision. I don't really hew with all of those folks types who think that creating an intention alters the quantum reality or something (I mean, all thoughts - like all biological processes -- do involve transformations in energy, but let's not get crazy). This kind of vision is not like The Secret.

This  kind of vision can be summed up this way: 
get extremely clear about what you want.

When you do that, getting what you want is not magic -- you still have to work for it. But when you are extremely clear about what you want, you can marshal your energy in a way that is much more precise; you can pursue those things that match your vision, and other things fall by the wayside. So when I read about a house that matched my vision, I was able to pursue it single-mindedly, instead of diffusing my efforts in driving around looking at lots of houses.

SO... how do you get the kind of clarity that will drive your actions?

Again, it's not magic or even science. It's just about thinking and answering questions.

Recently, my friend Kelly wanted to know more about how to create a vision for her family life. So I outlined a few questions to answer:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • What are the top 3 priorities for you?  Be as specific as possible. For example, you want to say: "a priority is that someone is home every day to put the kids to bed" vs. saying "we prioritize family time." If it helps figure out your priorities, describe your ideal in great deal: the ideal day for your family, the ideal success at work, the ideal home you want to live in
  • Why is this important to me personally?
  • What about your personal story leads to this priority?
  • How will I get there?
  • What are the principles that you will follow in pursuit of your vision? (Examples: we will not increase our debt, or we will live within 1000 miles of our family). What are your personal strengths that will help you be successful?

The last step in figuring out your vision is to create a personal headline. A headline is a few words that encompass your vision.

A friend who works with me in the education reform movement has this headline: Students will be able to access their choice of the top 10% of colleges.

My personal  headline for this year: 2012 is the year I find a home.

My headline for work: Students, teachers, and communities will have choice and voice. (This might seem unclear to you, but I know exactly what I mean by choice and voice. The words don't have to mean anything to anyone but you).

This final step might feel a little frivolous, but it's a great gut-check for your vision. If you can state your headline and not know exactly what that means, then you're not clear enough to be really oriented toward your vision. And then, when you're pursuing your vision, when you want to check your actions, you can just refer to your headline.


I thought I'd share how I think about vision, because some people I know find it helpful.
I'd love to know what others think - what are the techniques or strategies you use to figure out what you want from work, family life, personal life, etc? 


Ren said...

This is a great tip, Cat! I will give it a whirl.

Writing things down is one way that really helps me identify and work towards my goals.

Hope you are keeping happy and well :)

Mara Kofoed said...

LOVE THIS ! I agree - getting clear about your vision will take you far.. so well said. xo