Why hasn’t my life turned out the way I planned?
Twice in one week I heard this exact same question. Both times I was surprised because each woman seemed quite accomplished.
Michelle’s warm personality and infectious laugh attracts a lot of friends. She has a loving husband, two well-adjusted school-age sons, and she does a lot of volunteer work outside her home.
Sarah, an executive in a Fortune 1000 company, is one of the elite group of women who inhabit the C-Suite. Intelligent and with a quick-wit, she’s a natural leader and her career has move forward quickly.
So what was the problem?
Michelle was disappointed that she hadn’t established the impressive career she had imagined while in college.
Sarah was disappointed that she hadn’t had children. But she had not fallen in love with a man who met the standards she had in mind for a father. She was now considering adopting a child as a single parent.
If Michelle and Sarah knew each other, they might have been envious of each other. They each had what the other wanted. In one sense, their situations were very different. But in another way, they had sometime quite fundamental in common.
They each had only a vague plan for their lives and were now unsatisfied. Having never created a real personal vision, they didn’t know what they really wanted. When I asked Michelle why a career was important to her, it was because she assumed that’s what a successful woman does. When I questioned Sarah why children were important to her, I got the sense that she assumed having children would lead to more fulfillment as a woman.
You’re more likely to get what you want if you know what that is.
In clarifying her vision, Michelle discovered that she actually did have the life she wanted. The voice that told her she should have a professional career was her parent’s, not hers. Her own vision was grounded in having loving relationships, having freedom and flexibility to be creative with her time, and being physically active and healthy. Her current life actually filled these desires..
Sarah discovered that something was missing from her life, but not what she had thought. What she really wanted was a committed, intimate relationship with a partner. She realized that having children would not give her the kind of love she really desired. She stopped shopping for someone who would be a good father and opened to the possibility of attracting a partner who could engage in the kind of meaningful, loving relationship she really wanted.
Create a vision for what really matters to you.
If you think your life hasn’t turned out the way you planned, it’s time for a reality check. What do you really want?
Most people don’t get clear about their personal vision overnight. It requires time for reflection, using both logic and a feeling perspective. Vision comes from your own desires, hopes, dreams and values.
Sometimes when you begin the process of identifying your vision, you discover that the things you thought you wanted came from somewhere else — someone else’s dreams for you such parents, teachers or friends — and are not what you truly desire.
When you create a vision that resonates with your purpose and values, it generates energy, passion and commitment; and magical things start to happen.
Use these 6 guidelines to help create a personal vision for the life you really want.
The most difficult step in a creating a vision is discovering what you truly want. These guidelines can help you discover what matters most to you.
1. Start with the “Three Whys.” Ask yourself, “What do I really want?” Then answer “Why do I want that?” And for that answer, ask again “Why do I want that?” Do this three times. This is a way to dig down to what is fundamentally important to you. You may discover, like Michelle and Sarah did, that what you had thought you wanted was not what you really wanted.
2. Ask, “What do I want to do?” — not “What should I do?” Dig below your dreams to discover what’s most important to you.
3. Be proactive, not reactive. Create a vision for what you truly desire, not what you want to move away from. Focus on where you want to go, not what you want to leave behind.
4. Spend some relaxed time dreaming and imagining. Give yourself permission to explore, to dream. Be creative. Be playful. Use your “right brain” – logic can kick-in later.
5. Focus on the end-result, not the process for getting there. What the results will look like; what will be accomplished; how you will feel about yourself; how you will feel about others.
6. Don’t limit yourself by what you may think is possible. A vision can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.