Imagine your life is perfect in every respect: what would it look like? (Brian Tracy)
This year, I am not making any New Year’s resolutions. I do not promise:
- I’m going to exercise more.
- This year will be the year I get healthier.
- I will lose weight.
- I’m going to find a hobby and stick to it.
- I will play more.
- This year I will start each morning with meditation.
Nope. I have no intention of setting myself up to fail to keep my word because I am hesitant to give my bond unless it aligns with the perfect life that I envision building.
I am spending time staring at my vision board: asking myself whether that continues to represent my perfect life. Because I want to be sure, when I sit down and write up my 2020 action plan, that my ladder is leaning against the right wall!
I invite you to imagine your desired life – the one where you are thriving, aligned and connected with what you want. What does that life vision look like?
Dream, Want & Desire
In creating my perfect life, I start with my dreams and desires – from the heart. I dare to ask myself: what do I truly want?
But this is not a want of the Awkward Yeti heart chasing butterflies. No. I desire the true dreams of the heart: when my heart is bursting with love and compassion – for myself and my family – what do I want?
What is your vision for your future when you approach it from a place of love?
Allow yourself to get away from life’s distractions and find some quiet. Allow yourself space to dream and desire – to feel. I invite you not to “think” and reflect, but to connect with your loving self. This is not the time for defining your dreams, but just for allowing yourself to sense and feel into them.
If you allowed yourself to want the very best for yourself – knowing all of your strengths, weaknesses and capability – what would you request? Even with tough love, knowing that you would need to stretch and grow into this future, what do you desire? Can you connect with your purpose? Where is that place you exercise all of your talents and know you have created your legacy in this world?
While you are creating the future you want, consider the people that you love and cherish. How will you connect with them through this growth period? What does loving them look like on your journey?
Consider your values: what is important?
Your values inform your thoughts, words, plans and actions. Most important of all, they let you know what’s truly important. You prioritise your dreams when they align with your values. Before you start planning: find that place of inner alignment.
Ask yourself this: Is this who I am?
While identity can be complicated, like peeling the layers of an onion, deep down, you have a sense of “this is who I am”. It’s not your ego or a construct of your thoughts, but rather a deep inner knowing. When you are crafting your dreams and desires, do you identify with them? Can you deeply sense that they peel back layers you have been hiding behind, to reveal more of who you are?
Imagine and visualise
Now you have permission to get up into your head but make an attempt to keep it connected to your heart and dreams. Hold onto your values and sense of identity as you imagine and visualise creating your perfect life.
I offer the following questions as a guide to exploring your life vision.
- When I genuinely love myself, with all my talents and abilities: what activities do I see myself doing?
- What skills and tools have I developed?
- How do I spend my days, weeks and months?
- What am I doing on the weekends, as I create a lifestyle I love?
- Imagine what you now call “work” and how you live your life.
- How much money are you making each week or month? What are your sources of income? Consider how you went about creating them.
Visualise your ideal life out in detail, until you can feel it.
Staying in that creative space you have created with your imagination and visualisation, take some paper and brainstorm possibilities. Set aside your judgment for now. Drop ideas onto the paper. Allow them to flow quickly, imagining how you would create a lifestyle you love. How might you build a life that brings you joy and uses all of your talents and abilities?
What is the legacy of your life purpose that you are creating over the coming decade or decades? To get there, start jotting down ideas of where you might need to be in five years to achieve this. What activities would you need to be involved in this year to set you on that path?
Checking for alignment: imagine fulfilling your desires and needs
Once again, allow yourself to sit in silence. Then, check your wants, dreams, desires and needs. As you visualise and picture your life, looking at the ideas that you have created, which ideas feel fulfilling? Is there anything missing – emotionally or instinctually?
Consider your financial and material needs. Also, take a moment and ask yourself “what am I hungry for?”. Do your plans and dreams allow you to feel safe and secure? What else is required?
Most importantly, check in once again with identifying with the plan. Ask yourself “Is this who I am becoming?“.
Logical planning and analysis
Only after you imagine what your dream life looks like should you bring in your rational, logical and realistic mind. You don’t want to craft your life, then find it is hollow and empty because “it makes sense“. Make sure that the definition that you use of success in your life feels relevant.
However, you don’t want to be just a heart chasing after butterflies and the latest dream. So allow yourself to bring in that logical, pragmatic planning. Which ideas that you have brainstormed “make sense” when you take into account what you want and what you need?
Let me clarify once again: all of your wants and needs, not just the ones that the inner critic agrees should be included! If you describe your ideal life only from the perspective of your inner critic, that may well be your parents or a teacher or adult when you were younger’s idea of what was ideal. It is not necessarily your perfect life!
Narrowing the list down
The ideas to keep and work with should meet the following simple criteria:
- align with your wants, dreams and desires;
- fulfil your needs, including your gut instinct for safety and security;
- align with who you are (not who you think you should be) – remembering that this is almost visceral, not some idea in your head.
While these are simple criteria, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easy! You might feel heavy-hearted when you look at one of the ideas, and yet your mind is telling you it’s great. Ask yourself: what’s missing? Quite possibly, it is a great idea but needs more work to satisfy the desires of your heart. At other times, you need to let it go and move on to improving a different idea so that it is more appealing to your logical mind.
When you imagine your life perfect in every respect, realise that this refers to all aspects of your life:
- family & friends
- personal development
- health & wellbeing
- spiritual and community
- legacy and purpose
In every aspect of your life, consider whether these plans truly demonstrate love and compassion for yourself and others. Can you imagine crafting your life and then discovering that you forgot to love yourself? Logic, practicality and analysis need to be lead by inner compassion.
Breaking it down
Once you know what your perfect life would look like, start to break it down: what can you achieve in the next ten years? If you committed to this vision for your life, prioritising your dreams and goals, what do you need to accomplish in the next ten years?
People tend to overestimate what can be done in one year and to underestimate what can be done in five to ten years. (Anonymous)
Working back half-way from the ten-year plan, what are your five-year goals? When you are “half-way there”, what have you accomplished? What are you working on? Consider what challenges and obstacles you might be facing at that stage? Also, consider the success that you are already celebrating. Make sure you know the mile markers that tell you that you are on the path to your ideal life.
In three years time, you will need to have the foundation in place that you are going to build this success upon. What does this solid foundation look like? What skills will you have acquired? Who have you networked with and met in the first three years? What have you started building?
Ready to look at your 2020 plans?
Now you know why I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.
In 2020, I’m not aiming for some ideal size or weight – but rather that my health and well-being support the life I want to have. I am most certainly not pushed by the guilt of any food I’ve enjoyed between Christmas and New Year! In the same way, I look at my relationship with little miss 6 and ask myself, “what am I doing today that will build the relationship I want to have with her when she’s 16 or 26?”.
I invite you to look at the opportunities that the coming decade offer to you.
You’ll realise that it doesn’t matter if you start on the 1st of January or on the 31st. You have a decade to work through it. You could have started on November 20th, and that would be just as effective!
My plans for this year are part of a much bigger picture of the purpose and direction of my life. There is something much deeper pushing me forward.
What direction is your life taking, and what will you do in 2020 on that path? Perhaps you will have giant leaps forward this year, or possibly a giant leap composed of 1,000 tiny steps. Resolve to live this year with purpose and intention.
Happy New Years!