How to Write an Effective Vision

So last week I shared my list of intentions for 2013 and I also shared that simply setting intentions is not enough to really make the changes you’re wanting. I recommended turning that list of intentions into a Vision with these qualities:

1)   Everything is stated in the positive (no exceptions).

2)   It is written in present tense, as if all of this is already true.

3)   It is a narrative and when you read it you truly FEEL how you will feel when you accomplish the goals within.

4)   You MUST share your vision with at least three people.

Now that you have your list of intentions, let me walk you through the process of creating a vision that will easily and effectively draw forth the results you’re wanting. I’m going to break down each of these parameters and then I’ll offer you an example of my own vision in process.

1)   Everything is stated in the positive (no exceptions).

This is crucially important since in my experience we get more of whatever we put our attention on. This is especially true when it comes to parenting. If I focus on my daughter’s whining and how annoying it is, voila! I get more whining. On the other hand, if I put my attention on an activity or behavior that I enjoy, again, I get more of it.

So, as you’re writing your vision, be sure to double and triple check it to make sure you’re saying things like “My daughter asks for what she needs before she’s in distress” instead of “My daughter never whines.” If you have any specific questions about this part, feel free to send me a message and I’ll let you know if I find anything that could be worded more positively.

2)   It is written in present tense, as if all of this is already true.

Again, I can’t overstate the importance of this rule when writing an effective vision. Statements like, “Someday I will learn to control myself and use a kind tone of voice.” will only serve to reinforce the fact that you’re not there yet.

Instead, try, “Whenever I feel irritated, I take a deep breath and remind myself that we are all just trying to meet our needs. Then I notice whether I can speak calmly or if I need a moment alone either to express my emotions in a healthy way or to step further into composure. My children support my intention to speak to them calmly, and remind me to take a break if they think I need one.”

3)   It is a narrative and when you read it you truly FEEL how you will feel when you accomplish the goals within.

The reason that writing a vision can be so effectives is because it creates a memory within us of how it feels to have accomplished these goals and to be living in this specific way. When we have a vague idea what we might want, we’re unlikely to get it. On the other hand, when we know exactly what it is we want to create, we figure out ways to go about manifesting that very thing. Your vision might be completely different from mine in content, but if you want it to be effective, just make sure that you feel the way you want to while you’re reading it. Whatever imagery, details, or people you need to include, go for it. It can be whatever you want it to be, and should actually be so awesome you almost can’t believe your “luck.”

Humans have a long and rich tradition of narration and story telling and I don’t think it’s just a lark or a distraction from reality. Rather, I see story telling as one of the most effective ways we have to make sense of our reality and to encode memories in helpful ways that allow us to continue to develop. Remembering every detail of our lives doesn’t work well, which is why memory doesn’t work that way. Remembering the parts of our lives that are important to us, the stories that are meaningful, or teach us a specific lesson, that’s where the juice is.

So when you’re writing your vision, be sure you enjoy reading it and that it has a clear storyline or the ability to transport you into the scene in the same way that a good movie or memorable novel can. If the narrative doesn’t move you, keep working on it or ask for help until you can come up with something that does.

4)   You MUST share your vision with at least three people.

Here’s where the rubber really meets the road. Now that you’ve created a narrative that really speaks to you, inspires you and excites you, you need to share it with other humans. Why? Because we don’t live in a vacuum. We are social creatures and guess what happens when you share your vision with a trusted friend or family member? You’re sharing something meaningful and vulnerable which means that your friends and family get to learn something more about who you are and what you want. But the magic really happens because you’re DECLARING your intentions. Essentially it’s the difference between secretly loving someone but being too fearful to tell them and actually shouting from the rooftops, “I LOVE KEVIN!!!”

You’re not just wishing or hoping for life to change in these important ways, you’re DOING something about it. You’re creating a new reality in your own mind, and then when you share your thoughts with others, they become more real. The same thing happens when you complain to your girlfriends. Your friends commiserate with you to make sure that your reality IS reality, whether good or bad. This is part of why it’s so important to stay positive, because we get more of whatever we focus on.

OK, so I promised you an example from my own vision. So here’s a part of a first draft…

First, here’s my original list of intentions:

1)   Help Julia learn to fall asleep on her own with little help from an adult

2)   Keep track of all expenditures and get spending under control

3)   Find new ways to save money and make wise long term financial decisions

4)   Double (at least) my income from 2012

5)   Lose 13 more pounds and continue to exercise regularly

6)   Create my first Awake Parent eCourse and launch it successfully

7)   Grow my list to 10,000 subscribers

8)   Take classes just for me (voice lessons, belly dancing etc.)

9)   Swim lessons for Julia

10)  Get pregnant???

Now, here’s my first attempt at a vision that encompasses them…

Wow, my life is so incredibly awesome! I am happily surprised at how much I enjoy money management now, in fact, I’ve just discovered yet another way to save money on household expenses and I am looking forward to my next appointment with my financial advisor like a kid with a cookie jar. It’s so much fun to see our retirement accounts growing and growing!

When I woke up this morning I couldn’t wait to head over to the gym for my usual hour-long work out. I love to sweat and read my novel. My work out time has really become the “me” time that nurtures and fulfills me. I’ll definitely be able to continue my cardio work-outs all the way through this pregnancy.

I am elated at how much money I’m bringing in this year. All of my money worries have been handled and now I get to have fun saving and planning for our future! I am so honored that my clients trust me to support them and their development and continue to be so incredibly generous and loyal. And I’m super excited that my first eCourse is such a big hit!

I have thousands of subscribers to my newsletter and my online business has built so much momentum that it continues to grow without additional effort on my part. I’m looking forward to hiring my first employee this year. But what really feels great about growing this business is all of the people and families I’m helping. I’m finally getting the word out about connection parenting, respect for young people, and effective gentle discipline that works. Hooray!

OK, so you get the idea. This is definitely not finished and it is NOT a final draft, but can you FEEL the excitement?! I think the last two paragraphs need the most work. I need to hone in on what most inspires me about this work and why I think it makes such a huge difference in the world. Now THAT will be an inspiring vision to step into!

So, I hope this article was helpful and if you have any questions or want to share your vision with us, feel free to add it to the comments.

Have a fabulous week! Love, Shelly