December is always a merry time of the year. It is one of the most joyous occasions as we celebrate the season of Christmas with our loved ones. The season is especially meaningful for me as it’s also a time to reflect about the year’s events in my life, and a time to plan for the year to come. The reflections and plans cover all aspects of life, from personal development to family matters, and from professional growth to community service.
At the end of 2013, I remember trying to answer the question “what should I change and how should I do it?” This led to my personal vision and battle cry “Stretch!” which steered every major action and decision I made, and which carried me through 2014. This time around, I’m inspired to reflect on the many changes that have actually happened in 2014, and to discern the path forward based on my learnings and realizations.
One thing that has worked for me every year was to have a clear vision of my strong hopes, desires and dreams based on an evaluation of the things happening or have happened. A “clear vision” refers to a vivid picture or image of the end-resul. I literally visualize or imagine how the next 12+ months will look like. In his book, The 8th Habit, Stephen Covey called this the mental creation.
“Vision is seeing a future state with the mind’s eye. Vision is applied imagination. All things are created twice: first, a mental creation; second a physical creation. The first creation, vision, is the beginning of the process of reinventing oneself or of an organization reinventing itself. It represents desire, dreams, hopes, goals and plans. But these dreams or visions are not just fantasies. They are reality not yet brought into the physical sphere, like the blueprint of a house before it’s built or musical notes in a score just waiting to be played. Each of us has immeasurable power and capacity to reinvent our lives…” ~Covey
My process entails a thorough reflection and assessment about the things that matter most to me like my family, health, personal growth, faith and community service. In The 8th Habit, Covey wrote excellent questions to ask our selves.
“Perhaps the most important vision of all is to develop a sense of self, a sense of own destiny, a sense of your unique mission and role in life, a sense of purpose and meaning…When testing your own personal vision, first ask yourself: Does the vision tap into my voice, my energy, my unique talent? Does it give me a sense of calling, a cause worthy of my commitment? Acquiring such meaning requires profound personal reflection, asking deep question and envisioning.” ~Covey
Have you created your personal vision? If not, how do you start the visioning process? I recommend being very clear with your personal mission first. While a vision is the end-result, mission is the starting point and serves as the process of what needs to be done.
Mission embodies your passions, causes, values and people or groups to serve. Vision is the force that sustains you when your mission seems heavy to endure, enforce or engage. While vision is your destination, mission – with your passion – is your fuel to get you there.
Once your mission is clear, the visualization process comes easy. The two questions I often ask my mentees to start the process: If you maintain the status quo, where will you be next year, and in 3 or 5 years’ time? If you don’t like what you see, what is your preferred or ideal future? Once you define the “ideal”, you produce a vision of your destination, and you can start planning and executing your actions to reach that place.
Last November, we had an early year-end gathering with some of the young couples in our Church community. My husband and I asked them: Where do you see your families in 5 years’ time? Most of them have 3 to 5 year marriages, and have began to raise their children. They became quite excited and engaged as they talked about their dreams and plans for their young families. After the gathering, a few of them posted on social media how that one question has become their key take-away and focus for their one-to-one talks. Whether it’s for yourself, or for your family, or for your teams at work, creating a clear vision and striving to reach it make life’s journey purposeful, meaningful and joyful indeed!
Note: This article was also published in LinkedIn.