Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. ~ Carl Jung
I am getting excited as I prepare to help facilitate a visioning workshop next weekend. I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions — they are far too easily discarded as life throws its incessant curve balls at you. Instead, I am a big believer in creating a vision for where you want to go in life, revisiting it from time to time to make sure it still resonates, but mostly just living life with that vision in mind.
In order to create a vision, you need to listen to your own inner wisdom. The first time I was introduced to the concept of visioning, I was led through a guided meditation that started by stilling the chatter of my mind so I could really connect with my divine wisdom, and then that wisdom showed me images of what me living my life fully really looked like. I have since gone through a variety of visioning exercises, but I think those two core components are always present — getting still enough to listen, and then allowing the vision to unfold, almost like it is being unveiled to you. As a result of this kind of process, you may see yourself living a life you haven’t even thought to dream of, and yet somehow it just feels right, it feels like it matches who you are and what you want in life.
So how does visioning differ from dreaming about where you want to be? The major key here that I see is that when you dream, there is a wistful feeling about it. As Carl Jung says, that dream lies outside of you, which I think makes it feel unattainable because you don’t wholly own it. When you create a vision, it resonates with you because it comes from within. It may feel like a huge stretch from where you find yourself in this moment, but you can visualize yourself living that life, perhaps because on some level you already have it.
Visioning can provide you a big picture vision for your life, but it can also be a powerful tool for the short-term. I like to do at least one visioning exercise each year — it helps me to see if my big-picture vision still resonates and helps me to visualize what steps I can take in the near future to move in the direction of my vision. One of my favorite tools in this process is the Vision Board, which is a large part of our upcoming workshop. I display my annual Vision Board prominently so that I can always look at it — sometimes it’s for inspiration, sometimes it’s a reminder, and sometimes it just feels good, like a warm and fuzzy hug to wrap myself up in. It is a snapshot of my current trajectory — a mixture of where I am today and where I see myself going from here, all the good stuff that I want to focus on and attract more of into my life. Last year’s Vision Board is covered in green — lots of plants and vegetables and trees and arbors. I didn’t know it at the time, but it turned out to be a year full of growing and gardening, with visits to farms in addition to my first vegetable garden, lots of wandering in the woods, and ultimately the purchase of a home with beautiful trees surrounding it and even a green lawn.
So how does visioning differ from goal setting? I guess my question in return would be, where are you getting those goals from? If you dream of having a large house with a sports car and a slim figure, your goals will likely be about achieving some steps in the direction of those dreams. The problem is that when the dream feels unattainable, on some level that feeling taints the associated goals as well, making it easy to throw your hands up and make excuses for why you cannot achieve your goals. So yes, visioning differs from goal setting, but once you have a vision it can be easier to set goals that come up out of that vision for your life, baby steps on the way towards living that vision. The goals become a bridge from where you are today towards where you want to be.
I remember how startled I was when that first visioning process showed me as the mother of two children. Up until that point I had been decidedly anti-children. I was so shocked that the first “goal” I had was to really look at why I thought I didn’t want children and to allow myself to consider what it would be like to be a mum, trying it on like a hat to see if it fit. That process uncovered a lot of stuff for me, old beliefs that weren’t serving me anymore that once released allowed me to be more open to many possibilities available to me that I had previously shut myself off from. Once I opened myself up to this idea of having kids, it kind of had a life of its own, it flowed without my having to do a whole lot to make it happen. To me, that’s a sign that where you are headed is in alignment with who you are. When life is constantly throwing up obstacles to your path, that’s a good time to ask yourself if it’s truly a path you need to be on.
The beauty of the vision is that it becomes your “true north” for your compass — now you have something to set your sights on, something to point yourself toward. But it isn’t a list to check off — the things you will have and/or accomplish by a certain date. Life may take you to a variety of different places along the route to your vision, but these stops along the way are really just steps that are bringing you closer to that vision whether it is obvious to you or not. Almost by accident, my vision is coming into fruition in unexpected ways. It isn’t unfolding anywhere near like I had imagined it would, perhaps mostly because originally I had no idea how on earth I was going to get from “here” to “there.” At some point along the way I realized that I’m already “there” — the details are still evolving, but the foundation has been laid and the construction is underway. It’s a work in progress, but oh my, what a journey. I find myself grateful for this path and for all the manifestations along the way, from tomatoes in the garden to my beautiful boys. Life is good. Namaste.