Creating a vision of the future is a process that begins with your identifying what’s most important to you.
It begins with describing the life you want without sparing the details.
To create a vision in words, you first need to see one in your mind.
And to do that, you need to know exactly what you want to see in every area of your life.
The nine steps described below can help you overcome your hesitation and finally articulate a vision that’s 100% yours.
What Is a Vision for Life?
Your vision for the future has to do with every area of your life. Describe what you want for each of those areas, and you can then sum up your vision in a brief vision statement.
It’s similar to a mission statement but with a crucial difference: mission statements focus on the present — what you’re doing now to realize your personal or professional mission.
Your vision focuses on the future.
Start by listing each of the categories and brainstorming what you want for each:
- Relationships — a loving and compatible partner; good relationships with your children; close friends who are always there for you (and vice-versa).
- Health — physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health; an enjoyable and effective fitness routine; optimal nutrition; an empathetic/challenging therapist.
- Self-Care — taking time every day to meet your own needs.
- Career — getting started, building your brand, advancing in your chosen field.
- Finances — paying off debt, saving for retirement, setting aside money for travel.
- Home — buying a house, making DIY home repairs, finding an apartment you love.
- Education — college degree, reading, online courses, certifications, internships.
- Recreation — travel and adventure, hobbies, new challenges, vacation plans.
- Community — volunteering; supporting causes you believe in; joining protests.
Think of the categories you could expand on for a whole life vision board or a series of boards focusing on specific areas of your life. Expand on every one of them.
9 Steps to Create A Vision for the Future
With all the categories to consider for your overall vision, the prospect of summing it all up in one statement can seem impossible or reductive.
The following nine steps can help you work through the process and create a statement covering all the bases.
1. Deepen Your Self-Knowledge
Get to know yourself and your deepest desires better. Otherwise, you’re likely to repeat the visions you’ve heard others express and adopt them as your own.
They sound admirable enough, after all. Maybe that’s what you (should) want, too.
As you grow, your vision will likely change — partly because you have a better grasp of who you are and what you want and partly because you’ve learned to think for yourself. You’ve decided to stop basing your life on other people’s values and priorities.
Your identity, your life, and your vision are yours and no one else’s.
2. Ask Yourself the Right Questions
Make a list of questions related to the categories listed above, using the following examples as a starting point:
- Relationships — How do you see your closest relationships? What changes do you want to see? What seems impossible right now but still highly desirable?
- Health —What health challenges are you facing? Who will help you face them? What progress do you want to see?
- Career — What is your dream career, and why? Where do you want to be with your career 3/5/10 years from now? What do you need to get there?
Ask yourself each question and answer it truthfully.
3. Review Your Past
What can you learn from your past and your present to help you build your vision for the future?
What opportunities have you passed up because you feared the consequences of failure or because you knew it didn’t match your life or habits, and you feared the cost?
What choices have you made that have taken you in directions you didn’t want to go? And what have you learned from your experiences?
You can take responsibility for your choices without torturing yourself for them. How do past decisions relate to your habits? And what will you do differently from now on?
4. Let Your Imagination Run Wild (and Take Notes)
Give yourself permission to daydream and imagine your life as you want it to be.
Even if some parts of it seem impossible or out of your reach, there’s no telling what solutions you might think of if you’ll just allow yourself to dream. If you still ache for something lacking in your life, giving up on it won’t make the ache fade away.
If anything, it just goes deeper and affects more of your life until you decide to do something about it. Daydreaming about what you want gets your mind working on how to get there. Don’t forget to take notes.
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5. Plan Backwards
Once you know what you want your future to look like, you can plan for the present by asking yourself what needs to change and how you’ll change them.
List the things in your present that you don’t want to see in your future. List the things in your future that you don’t see in your present. Then outline the changes you need to make and the habits you’ll need to build to make those changes stick.
6. Choose New Habits
Decide what new habits you want to build to replace those holding you back and keeping your mind in a perpetual fog.
With those new habits come new thoughts — ideas you haven’t thought of before. This is the power of good habits; what you do influences how you think. Your patterns of acting influence your habits of thinking.
Choose those that will get you closer to your vision.
7. Create a Vision Board
You can create a large one to hang up in your home or workspace or use a journal or scrapbook to create something more portable. The point is to make a physical and visible representation of what you want to see in your future (as well as your present).
Every vision board should reflect what you want, not what you think you should want.
If you’d rather create something you can access on your phone or tablet, you can also create a vision board on a website or using an app.
8. Find Inspiration in the Visions of Others
Look to examples of other’s visions and pay attention to your internal responses to each. Retain what resonates; disregard what doesn’t.
And don’t forget to talk to the people you want to keep in your life to get their insights on your life in the present and what they’d like to see in your future.
Ask them about their own personal visions, too. What could you do to help them create their own visions for the future?
While drawing inspiration from them, you might also inspire them to take more consistent action toward their own goals.
9. Sum Up Your Vision
Take what you’ve written so far about your vision for the future, and sum it up in a brief but powerful statement.
If you write stories, think about how you put yourself in your main characters’ heads and write dialogue by essentially taking dictation for the voices you hear.
Imagine one of your characters is having an epiphany and finally articulating what they genuinely want — with a few well-chosen words.
Sample Statement of a Vision of the Future
If you’re not sure how to sum up the results of the steps described above, reading some examples of personal vision statements, like the ones in this post, can bring it all together.
Here’s one example to get you started:
“ Although I value my introverted nature, I intend to experience more human connections in my life. I recognize the value of stretching myself and interacting with more people.
To this end, I am setting the goals of joining a book club and hosting dinner parties twice a year.”
Ready to Create Your Life Vision?
Now that you know how to create a vision for the future, what will you do today to get closer to articulating your own? What will you do to get closer to it?
You are responsible for the path you’re on right now. Take a hard look at where that path is leading you and ask yourself if that’s where you want to be.
If it’s not, look at where you do want to be, and find out what it will take to get there.