Last week, I set as one of my daily actions to “spend 15 minutes visualizing my ideal professional life.”
This seems like something I should have done a long time ago, right? After all, coaches are all about visualizing what you want and reaching for the stars. I have a lot of fun supporting my clients in that… and for myself, well, it’s a stretch.
I’ve always been described as pragmatic, organized and logical. Those are terms I’ve embraced, as there are many gifts to be had in those traits. I also have been called creative, flexible and a go-with-the-flow kinda gal. Again, I find those traits easier to live when it’s in support of others, more challenging when it’s all about me. My mind gets ahead of itself, trapped in the land of “how could I possibly do that!?” I never quite get my visualization off the ground.
So that daily action was a challenge I threw down for myself. I knew there was something to this sky’s-the-limit type of visualization, and that in order for it to work, it was important to let my mind be wide open and do the f- word: fantasize.
I was reminded of Lily Tomlin’s quote: “I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.”
Here’s how my visualization started:
You see those first lines? I started with “close to the ocean,” scratched that out and wrote “next to the ocean,” and then FINALLY let myself write down what I really wanted: “ocean front.”
Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it!?
Once I relaxed and let my heart do the writing instead of my head, the words flowed, and I spent 30 minutes going into detail about my ideal professional life. I outlined where I was working, who my clients were, how I wanted to spend my time, money and energy, what I wanted my days to be like. It was really empowering! The more I wrote, the more I could see clearly in my mind’s eye what I knew was waiting for me. Even better, I felt peace. Calm. Even – dare I say it – excitement!
I shared my experience with a friend, and she said, “well, what if it doesn’t happen?” She had a point… after I wrote out my description and thought about those lovely details about where it will happen (ocean front, please!), the pragmatic part of me kicked in and thought, “how in the world could I ever afford something like that?!” Fantasy indeed!
Here’s the funny part – while that rational part of me jumped in with the various obstacles, the fantasy part started to gain some traction. My mind felt like it had been stretched to include more possibilities. The ideas that come to me now and in the future may not look exactly like my dream retreat house, but they are fresh ideas that may not have come up otherwise: a co-op, a time share, a residency, a fixer-upper.
Have you taken time to fantasize about your ideal life?
To free your mind, tell the nay-sayer part of you to take a hike and really see where your imagination and heart takes you. Try this:
Make a commitment to set aside 15-30 minutes of fantasy time. Write in stream-of-consciousness style about your ideal life, or use these guiding questions to get you started:
- How do you feel?
- Where do you live?
- What do you do?
- Who are you with?
- How do you spend your free time?
- How much do you work?
- Where do you work?
- Who are you working with?
- How much do you make?
- How do you contribute to your community and/or profession?
- What are you known for?
Release any judgments or assumptions that get in your way. Focus on the feeling you want to have in this ideal space you are creating for yourself. (And think about what choices you have about creating that feeling NOW, “as is.”) If you want, follow up the exercise with a vision board or collage that pulls together words and images that reflect your fantasy, soon-to-be-reality life.
Have fun with it, and enjoy letting your mind expand into new territory. As Bono sings in “Walk On,” “You’re packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been … A place that has to be believed to be seen.” Believe it, Feel it, See it!
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