Things are so different from this time last year, and yet kind of the same. I spent a lot of time last year soul searching and working out what on earth I wanted from this gift of a life. Before last year I’d never really looked beyond 27. It’s not totally surprising with my Mother passing away at that age. It loomed so large, everything after it would have to be a breeze. It’s not, of course, with life being as much as a roller coaster as before, but now it has the faintest outline of a plan.
Last week something sparked my memory back to that time of soul searching. Vanessa Carnevale popped up a writing prompt about 10 years from now on her google plus page and I was transported back to August last year. Her writing was all about you being 10 years older and what are you doing in that moment. The light bulb went on.
Last year I read this quote on my friend Megan’s blog: “A lot can change in ten years if you are clear about what you want (and don’t want).” – Tanya Geisler and I decided to write a vision for 10 years from that day. It might seem a little woo-woo, but at the time I was willing to give anything a go to see what I might actually want from life. It feels like a very privileged thing to think about, but I only get one shot at this life and I’d like to be proud of what I make of it.
The vision was about my life and where I saw myself. It was really interesting what came up when I let my mind wander. I had a nice, but modest home – in a coastal/country suburb; I was blogging and writing and had a little stack of books with my name on them on the floor; and I had a little family. These are pretty basic things that people want: home, job, family. But it helped me to get clear about working towards it a little bit every day.
I have tendency to feel like things need to be achieved right now, this instant. Once I dream it up and turn it into a plan, I want to execute that plan right away. Having a ten year basic “this is what I want by 37” (it’s 9 years away now), gave me the permission I needed to not freak out that I couldn’t get that all done right away.
The beauty of the vision is that it’s not a step-by-step, it’s just an end goal. There are thousands of paths ahead of me that I can take and still end up there. In a way, that’s so freeing. Just because what I try first off doesn’t turn out as planned, doesn’t mean the whole dream is gone. It’s still a step closer to it, and to figuring out the how of making that dream a reality.
I was um-ing and ah-ing about writing this post and then Kelly Exeter’s blog post popped up in my twitter feed on Friday night asking the all important question: do you know where you’re going? I clicked through thinking that the answer would be ‘no’, but then I read the post and I realised that the answer was actually ‘yes, I sure do’. It asks two sensible questions, one about money and the other about what your day will look like. Go read it, if you haven’t already. It’s a good one. Thanks to taking the time to do the ten year vision last year, I knew the answers.
You might be thinking ‘that’s all well and good to have a vision, but how can you execute it, if you don’t have a plan?’ Good question! I do it by keeping it in the back of my head every time I make a decision about my business or my life. When I decided to take up running I thought about what I wanted for my future and decided that running was a good fit. When I plan out what I want for this blog, a big part of that is all leading to that goal.
I watched a clip a couple of months back of Ben Silbermann’s keynote from Alt Summit last January and he talked of the importance of a North Star. Something overarching that you’re always working towards. He talked about how it’s great to have forward progress, but it’s hard to know if you’re achieving anything if you don’t know what you’re trying to reach. Another light bulb went off. That’s what the vision is to me: a north star.
If you’ve found yourself a little lost like me, then maybe a 10 year vision will help you. It’s not too hard to do. Take a notepad (or your phone) and write down the date 10 years from today. Then take 3-5 minutes, or how ever long you like, to picture what your life looks like on that exact day. Jot down the bits that really stick out to you. What are you doing? Where do you live? Who is there with you? What can you see out the nearest window? Just let your mind wander and you might just see what’s most important to you, and even what’s not.
Whenever I feel stuck, and like there’s no progress being made I like to think of my favourite quote of all, “Get clear about the life you want and run like hell at it” – Susan Petersen, Freshly Picked. Then I remember that’s exactly what I’m doing.
Are visions something that work for you? What keeps you on track?