That’s where we start. That’s the question we ask.
1: Our vision is an image of an ideal future. It transcends and includes our purpose and passion for being. Our vision generates the guiding force of inspiration in our lives, writes Dr. Daniel Friedland in Leading Well from Within.
Why is visioning so powerful?
Because when we identify a vision for the future, we create a gap between the current reality and what could be. “The gap between these states creates structural tension, or cognitive dissonance, which is partly the reason why clarifying [our] vision can be an uncomfortable process,” Danny writes. “However, this tension is important and often what’s needed to create change.”
Why? Because our brains are motivated to take action to close the gap.
“Thus, even though it may feel uncomfortable or even daunting, this gap and its accompanying feeling of dissonance are important parts of what facilitates [our] transformation,” Danny writes.
2: Visioning is a critical element in Danny’s VSIR framework: Vision, Strategy, Implementation, Results. By clarifying what matters most, we engage our brains and feel “energized, fulfilled, and resilient.” It is the critical first step to living with a “creative” vs. a “reactive” mindset. Unless we are intentional about creating our vision for the future, our brains default to the reactive mindset where we run “fear-based simulations about all that could go wrong.”
When Danny taught the VSIR framework in his workshops, we would suggest participants focus on three specific, integrated areas: health, relationships, and productivity. He would begin with the question: What is the definition of optimal health?
Danny takes an elevated perspective regarding health, suggesting our “optimal health” is energy optimized: “Rather than simply defining health as the absence of disease, this concept of health invites [us] to consider what energizes or depletes [us] in all areas, not just physically. Specifically understanding what enriches or drains [our] energetic bank account is key to creating [our] life’s vision.”
Danny believes seven elements greatly energize and enrich our lives with meaning:
o Learning: What do I love learning about? What types of books do I like to read? What documentaries interest me? What do I search for on the Internet?
o Connecting: How do I like to connect with people?
o Expressing potential: How do I like to express myself fully? What are my top character strengths?” [Note: one terrific tool to help us identify our top strengths is the VIA Survey of Character Strengths at http://www.viacharacter.org.]
o Being of service: What is my highest service and purpose?
o Creating opportunity: What opportunities are meaningful to me?
o Experiencing significance: Where do I find meaning in my life?
o Leaving a legacy: What would I like to leave behind?
3: After completing our “spadework” of reflecting on the values and strengths that energize us, we are now ready to envision our ideal life vision. We pick a time horizon–perhaps five to ten years out–which gives us “enough time to manifest [our] dreams, but not so far out that [we] feel disconnected from it,” Danny writes.
“Start writing whatever comes to mind, and write in the present tense to more fully engage with [our] vision, as it is being manifested or has already been realized,” Danny writes. Our vision will incorporate our answers to the questions above while also building in our goals and dreams about meaningful relationships and the way we work.
“Even if you do not know your overall purpose, simply envisioning what [our] optimal health, relationships and productivity would look like is purpose enough to begin with,” Danny notes. “Just start writing and allow [our] ideal life vision to crystallize.”
If we lead an organization or a team, we will also want to incorporate our professional vision of “the culture [we] are creating, and the difference [we] are making” in the lives of our clients with the value we deliver.
We may also want to create a vision board that includes photos, inspiring quotations, poems, or inspiring and meaningful objects.
Once we have articulated our vision, we are now ready to consider our strategy, implementation, and results.
Reflection: When I think about my vision for my ideal life in 5-10 years, what does my life “well-lived” look like in health, relationships, and productivity?
Action: Journal about my answer to the question above.