When we first started Thrive Lounge, we hosted several events in our local community. One event invited people to attend as the person they wanted to become in 5 years. Throughout the night, attendees would visualize their future by speaking as if they'd already accomplished their goals.
At the end of it all, we learned that many people struggled with visualizing their future and wanted to know HOW to create that five year vision in the first place.
That's when it dawned on me that while I think about my goals all the time (I have goals lined up in increments of 1,5,10 and 15 years. #obsessed) some people are still struggling to envision their 5-year goals.
Heck, many people are unclear about their vision for this year.
So, naturally, I took a step back to think about how I created my 5-year vision.
Here is what I came up with:
Step One: The Brainstorm
Creating your 5-year vision isn't as simple as picking a goal out of thin air. (If you do it that way, you'll realize that you change goals very quickly and are easily distracted by shiny objects along your journey.)
Instead, take an entire day (or week) to ask what you want out of life and jot all of your ideas down.
Feel free to create a list of as many ideas as you want and as big as you want - this is your future, your vision - NOTHING is impossible.
Just do me one favor, will you? As you're brainstorming, ask yourself one important question:
WHAT WOULD I DO IF THERE WERE NO RULES?
Here are a couple sample questions to get you started:
What did you always want to do as a kid?
What's your mission in life?
What's are your values?
What impact do you want to have on other's lives?
Growing up, I always wanted to be a member of Destiny's Child. (Moment of honesty: I even wrote a letter to Beyonce telling her about my singing abilities and asking her to create a "Children of Destiny's Child" girl group. I WAS DEAD SERIOUS.)
In elementary school and middle school, I spent my afternoons creating dance routines and singing in my room. In high school, I spent my free time writing songs and doing performance poetry. When I think about my 5-year goals, I definitely want to get back to singing, dancing and writing.
Step Two: Make a Decision: What do you want to accomplish right now?
You really can do anything you want, but the reality is no one (not even Beyonce herself) can do EVERYTHING at the same time.
To give your dream the opportunity to be successful, you must make a firm decision to pursue that dream - and only that dream - until you have reached the goal.
OK, I hear ya screaming at me "That's too hard! I am multi-passionate and have several interests! I can't choose just one!"
Rather than tell you something generic like "do what makes you happy" or "pursue your passion" I'm going to be a little (read: incredibly) honest with you:
Choose the goal you're best positioned to accomplish right now.
Depending on where you stand in life, there are some goals that you're in a better position to accomplish than others.
Here's one example from my life:
Three years ago, I was working three jobs (and still struggling) but I really wanted to catch up with my bills, go to grad school and start a business.
At first, I tried doing all three.
I pretty much stopped sleeping to start a blog, learn to code and study for the GRE when I could find a tiny pocket of time (all while still working my three jobs).
After three months, I'd gotten nowhere.
Then one day, I simply asked myself "what should I do first?" And it hit me.
If I took the GRE, I could go back to school and get a better job. Then, I would have enough time to sleep AND create a side hustle.
Shortly after I funneled all of my energy into taking the GRE, I found myself strutting down the halls of business school that fall.
Think about your specific situation...
If you have young children, you may not want to pursue a goal that takes you away from home.
If you have worked in a certain industry for five years, you have unique skills that will give you a competitive advantage.
If you have extra time on your hands, maybe you can spend that time creating a side hustle.
This doesn't mean throw your other dreams away. It simply means take the low hanging fruit, crush it, and then get started on the next goal. Being multi-passionate is a beautiful thing, but pursuing six goals at the same time means that each of your goals only get's one-sixth of your focus.
Step Three: Outline
All goals (if they're big enough) will require you to step out of your shell to do something new.
You may have to learn new things or re-train your brain to think a different way. (Don't worry, it sounds scary, but it's not. We all evolve everyday - this just means your evolution to your next move will be intentional.)
The next step in figuring out your vision is outlining what it will take to get there.
Through creating an outline you are doing several things. First, you're researching what it will take to reach your goal. Second, you're gaining an understanding of the distance between where you are and where you want to go. Third, you are breaking down your big hairy audacious goal into smaller bite-sized goals that are easier to accomplish. (More low-hanging fruit. :)
To get started on your outline, ask yourself these questions:
What skills do you need to accomplish your goal?
What classes do you need to take?
What relationships will you need to build?
Are there any experts out there that you can learn from?
What will you have to do to accomplish this goal? (Don't skimp on this one! Be very detailed about your action items. This will help you in the long run.)
Step Four: Create the big picture
Most people think about their vision in terms of their professional life. I love that more women are placing a strong focus on their career, but that mentality will make you Meryl Streep in Devil Wears Prada. #LonelyAtTheTop
Let's be real, a rich life is full of happiness, deep connections with great friends and family and adventure - in addition to monetary and career success. So take some time to brainstorm on what you want out of the other areas of you life.
To get started, write one sentence about what you want to you want your life to look like in each of these areas:
Hobbies and Creativity
Exploration and Adventure
Step Five: Create the vision.
Now that you have an idea on your big goal that you want to accomplish as well as the secondary goals, let's put it all into one, solid paragraph. (Pro tip: Try for 3-4 sentences - and it's OK to revise it a bit.) Keep revising until you get it down to only the most important elements that you want to include in your life.
Step Six: Be open to change.
While I don't like to be ambiguous, I will break my own rules and do it today. When you start down the path of accomplishing your goals, you never really know where it could take you. Be open to new opportunities coming your way - as long as it is in line with your values and will still take you in the direction of your life's mission.
Creating a 5-year vision is not easy. It takes a commitment to trying to uncover what your really want out of life and thinking about how to get it - without neglecting the other important areas of your life.
At the end of this activity take a second to imagine what your life would look like at the end of that journey, after having accomplished those goals and ask yourself one question: "Am I happy?" If you've answered "YES" then you did it right. If not, try again until you're happy with your vision.
Want To Create Your Big Vision?
Create a super effective and transformative vision board with the Vision Board Planner.
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Chantl founded Thrive Lounge to give women the kick in the pants they need (lovingly, of course) to uncomplicate their goals, stop making excuses, get productive and start living the life they always wanted. Her workbook, The Vision Board Planner, gives women a step-by-step guide to create a super effective and life-changing vision board.