Creating a Vision for the Life You Want

Two planners open to timeline and goal-planning pages with a gold pen

We all have hopes and dreams for how we’d like our life to turn out. But how do we get there?

Or perhaps you have the opposite problem. You feel stuck or directionless, and you have no idea what you would like to be doing with your life. 

This is where creating your life vision can really help. 

Visualizing the life we want is a key step towards making our dreams and goals come true. 

Creating a vision for your life may sound hokey or new-agey, but it’s no different from creating a plan for your business or writing a to-do list for your day. It’s about being specific about what it is that we want. Once you have a specific goal or outcome in mind, you’ll have an easier time coming up with an action plan to get there. 

Below are goal-setting exercises to help you create a vision for your life. We’ve also included goal setting tips and strategies to help make that vision come to fruition. 

Where do you want to end up?

You can pick one of the below exercises or do both. 

These exercises are effective in creating a life that you want because, oftentimes, we have no clue what it is that we want. We have a vague idea of wanting to be happier or more successful, but we’re uncertain as to what will make us happier or more successful.

Journaling and reflection work can help us tap into our true desires and, more importantly, allow us to fully articulate them. When we can define our dreams, we have an easier time actualizing them. 

Prompt: The 10-year plan 

The ten-year plan is an exercise made popular by designer and podcast host Debbie Millman. The ten-year plan is a journaling/writing exercise that asks you to think about a day ten years from now and to write about the day in great detail.

Be as specific as you can during this exercise. Where are you living? What kind of work are you doing? Who are the people in your life? 

Other details you can include:

  • The city that you are living in
  • What your house looks like
  • What your typical day is like
  • What your breakfast looks like
  • Do you have kids? Pets? 
  • What are you doing for fun?

Millman suggests writing out the full day, from morning until you go to bed at night. 

Millman says that many of the things she had written down came true later on. So the saying “be careful what you wish for” definitely rings true here! She recommends checking on your list once a year. This way you can see if you’re any closer to your goal, or if your goals are still aligned with what you want. 

Vision mapping

This is a goal setting exercise from illustrator Lisa Congdon. In her book Art Inc: The Essential Guide For Building Your Career As An Artist, she lays out the instructions for the vision mapping exercise:

“To make your vision map, write your name in the center of a sheet of paper and draw a circle around it. Then, write your vision statements on the lines reaching out from the center. It will look like an image of a sun with rays extending from it.”

Your vision statements can sound something like…

  • Finish a screenplay
  • Sell my artwork on Etsy
  • Grow my business’ social media presence
  • Move to California
  • Own a home

Try not to judge yourself during this process and let yourself dream big. It doesn’t matter how crazy or far fetched it sounds. Write it down. Remember: we don’t know what it is that we’re capable of until we actually push our limits.

Congdon recommends placing your vision map where you can see it. You can tape it to a wall or place it beside your bedside table. A visual reminder of your goals will keep them in the forefront of your mind and motivate you to act on them. 

Work backwards towards your dream goal

At this point, you probably have a better idea of where you see your life going and the wishes and dreams that you’d like to fulfill. 

Now that you’ve defined your goals, it’s time to start working backwards so that you can make your life vision come true.

Step 1: Select a long term goal 

This is the big goal that you’ll be pursuing. So take a look at your ten-year plan or vision map. Pick a few goals that you’d like to work towards in the long term. 

For example, maybe your goal is “move to California.” Write it down in your planner. Studies show that writing down a goal makes you more likely to accomplish it. 

Now that you have a specific goal in mind, you can create an action plan for it. 

Step 2: Give yourself a deadline

We’re more likely to act on a goal when we know that there’s a finish line in sight. Otherwise, it’s easy to keep pushing it off and let the goal fall by the wayside.

So maybe you’d like to achieve your goal in one year. Write it down or add it to your Google calendar so that you can commit to it.

Now that you have a deadline, you can start measuring your progress and see how much closer you are to your goal. 

Step 3: Create an action plan and set mini targets

They say that a goal without a plan is just a wish. So it’s time to get cracking and create a simple action plan.

Action plans are great because they give you something to work on. Plus, they turn your big, overwhelming goals into small, achievable pieces. 

So let’s say you want to end up with a finished screenplay in a year. Working backwards, what are the things you need to do to get that result? 

Then, write all of this down in a to-do list. The to-do list is your action plan and best friend. It will tell you what you need to complete to reach your goal. 

So if your goal is “Finish writing a screenplay in a year” your to-do list might look like this:

  • Brainstorm screenplay ideas
  • Write an outline
  • Write the first ten pages
  • Write a first draft
  • Join a writer’s group
  • Submit final script to festivals and contests

Once you have your finalized to-do list, you can start creating mini goals or targets. For example, what are the things you can knock off your to-do list today, this week, and this month?

Setting mini targets is a great way to sustain your momentum and motivation. After all, long-term goals can look so far away. We need mini rewards and accomplishments in the meantime to keep us going. 

You might be adding new tasks to your list as time goes on, but that’s okay. When you’re moving forward, new tasks and responsibilities will arise. 

Make sure to review your progress along the way and to give yourself regular treats and rewards. Try not to lose faith in the beginning. Progress may seem incremental at first, but you’ll be making big strides in no time and creating the vision you want for your life.

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