You’re surely familiar with goal setting and vision boards. Making a list of goals is an excellent tool for growing yourself and your business, as is putting out a poster with pictures of your idealized life. Today’s exercise is similar and yet provides a concrete way to move forward any type of project you may be working on: expansion of your current business, an unclearly-defined job change, a not-for-profit project or any sort of endeavor (like a trip abroad) that excites you. It’s easy to do and rewarding, but you have to actually write stuff down for it to work. Okay?
How to envision your future in less than 30 minutes:
Get out your journal, or some piece of paper. You can do this in drafts, or not. If your project involves team work, it’s best if everyone on the team does this at the same time, in the same place, but each person writing his own vision. (Later you can merge them into one.)
Sit down and think about what you want this project to look like in the future. Please do not give ANY thought to how this is going to come about or whether it’s realistic. When you create something new, by definition there is no blueprint to follow. Otherwise there would be no need to envision a different future. This is your creation and you are free to make adjustments as you move along. This will not be graded!
How far into the future? I suggest 3 to 5 years. Far enough out so you’re not getting anxious about if it’s going to work or not, but not so far out that it seems remote.
Write down, in present tense, what this project looks like.
Your description can answer these questions:
– What are you most proud about with this project?
– Why do people love it?
– How many people are involved (think employees and clients.)
– How does this project affect the larger community?
– Describe the ambiance at the project’s location.
Here’s an excerpt of an Envision project written in 2005 from Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, Part 1: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business by Ari Wenzweig. That project now looks very much like the written vision produced years before a farmer’s market existed in that location.
It’s the longest day of the year and the sun is at its pinnacle of warmth and light. Throngs of people are milling around the Roadhouse parking lot on this Thursday afternoon, amazed and excited about the abundance of locally produced goods and services ranging from several gorgeous varieties of tomatoes to handmade soap and artisan crafts, to herbs and plants, plus a strong synergy of Zingerman’s items– cheese from the Creamery, breads from the Bakehouse, the ever-energetic Roadshow crew caffeinating all the vendors and customers…..(You can read more of it here.)
How do you know this is going to work or not?
If you’ve working in corporate America ever, you know about business plans. They’re the Lego blocks of building corporations and businesses. The thing is, when you’re a scrappy creative person who just wants to do X (be prosperously self-employed, change the world through your music or get out of the job that you hate,) it feels impossible to write out a business plan because you’re not exactly sure how it’s going to turn out.
And that’s fine. You don’t have to know exactly the goal, it’s fine and normal not to know right now. The most creative professionals (meaning people who live off of what they create) often work like competing Iron Chefs, who must put together the best meal possible with the odd assortment of ingredients and other miscellaneous resources.
I’m sure in some way, in some part of your life, you do this a lot already.
Long before I moved to Charleston, I had made 2 vision boards full of pictures of water: both pools and the ocean. And now I live near a community pool where I swim several times a week (most of the time) and a full 5 minutes from the beach. I have written in my journal snippets of my idealized future life, including what it would be like to have a wonderful husband and stepfather for my kids, long before I was engaged to Ruben.
Writing this down helps you weed out time-wasting activities, see new opportunities and create bodaciously. Try and see what kind of inspiration comes to you!