We can go through life believing that it happens to us, we can believe that life happen for us, or we can choose to co-create with life. Many people get so caught up in the grind of surviving that they forget to actually enjoy it, and experience life as something that just goes by. Other people spend their time wishing for their dreams to come true, but without actually focusing on bringing their hopes into reality. Days and years pass in the blink of eye, and all they know for sure is that they have gotten older.
But some people recognize that life is guided by intention and experienced through perception. We do not have control over every detail, but we do have the power to influence the course our lives take. To actually live the life we want, we need to choose to participate. It is not enough to just go through the motions, nor to just wish, not if we actually want to be happy and fulfilled. One of the ways that we participate with life is through using the power of intention. Intention is not forceful, nor is it passive. It is a way of directing the current of life; engaging with the creative forces behind every thing we see and experience in our worlds.
There are many ways to work with intention, but like other subtle practices it helps to be specific, positive, and direct. Having a vague and insubstantial intention like “I want to be happier” does not give life much to work with. But creating a frame based on time and intention is like shooting an arrow towards a target. It is up to life whether or not the arrow reaches the bullseye, but applying direction, focus, desire, and an appropriate amount of effort towards a goal like this is a great way to co-create with life.
A one year vision statement is helpful way to work with your personal intention, your imagination, and the subtle forces of life to actually create change in your life towards a specific achievement or experience. This engagement is more likely to allow you to actually become happier than just continuing business as usual. Here are some ways to create a one year vision statement of your own.
Learn What Makes You Truly Happy
This is the most important step, and for many people the most challenging. If you are accustomed to doing what you are supposed to do, or what you have to do to get by, discovering what actually brings you joy may require some deep introspection. Think about the last time you were truly happy. What caused those feelings of happiness? If your joy was inspired by an activity, what was it? If by the people you were around, how were you spending your time together?
From that understanding of your authentic joy, you can begin to formulate a plan for future such joyful experiences. The things you think to do might be radical and way outside the box, but this is the time for that kind of thinking. If you want your life to change, you have to be willing to follow your joy and, well, change some things. But for now, just write down the activities and experiences that bring you the most joy.
Discover What Is Important to You
Another aspect of a fulfilling life is meaning. Working and living in such a way that you are aligned with your core values, at least most of the time. As you are exploring your personal vision, ask yourself why you do what you do. What is the purpose behind your work, your friendships, leisure activities, and hobbies? What really matters to you? What skills do you wish you were using more? What activities give your life the most meaning and feel most aligned with your ethics and personal priorities?
Think About How You Want to Make a Difference
One of the core human values is contribution. We all need to feel like we are positively contributing to the world in some way, to have the best possible mental health and wellbeing. Now that you have some idea of what makes you happy and what matters to you, can you find a way to be of service that honors your happiness and sense of meaning?
There are many ways to contribute, and it does not have to be a huge global project. You can contribute to your family, your partner, your community, or your town. What you give does not matter so much as that you are serving the greater good in some way. And remember, it needs to be aligned with your personal sense of joy and value, so it’s not about making yourself into a martyr.
Define Your Goals
We have covered the three main parts of a personal vision – happiness, value, and contribution. Now it is time to turn that into a statement of intention. It helps to use your imagination for this part: Picture yourself a year from now. You are happy, engaged, doing something that brings you joy and is making a positive contribution to your surroundings. What are you doing? Where are you? How are you living? What has changed in the year, both inside you and in your environment? Write down the things about that mental picture that feel the most true for you, that you want to see happen in your reality. Think about the steps you could take in the next year to bring you closer to that mental picture.
Now comes the really hard part: refining those goals and desired feelings into a statement. This is the poetry of intention making. The aim is to simplify your goals into a short paragraph, a few sentences at most, that positively expresses who you want to become and how you want your life to be in one year. To keep both your heart and mind engaged in this process, it helps to include feeling words in the statement. For example, rather than something like “I want to master my finances and have lots of money,” it could be “I want to feel healthy and balanced about my income and use of resources.”
The paragraph you distill should be enjoyable for you to read aloud. It should inspire you and bring a smile to your face to think about this being your new reality. Most especially it should feel like you, like it came from inside you, and names an even more you version of yourself that you intend to become. The vision statement is an opportunity to become even more our authentic selves, by helping us focus on our joy, values, and ability to be of service.
Write a Flow Chart
If the distillation process is challenging for you, or if you do well with calendars and charts, you may want to create a detailed visual aid. Let this be more like a game than a work exercise, however. You are combining your imagination with logic, using both sides of your brain in service to discovering your vision statement.
Your flow chart could look like a month-by-month plan of different aspects of your vision you would like to work on. It could be a pie graph with slices for your various goals, their sizes based on priority. Or you could use the mind map technique to create a non-linear but still causal path for your intentions to follow. From that chart, you would identify the key words and phrases that really stick out as essential aspects of your vision, to use in your statement and affirmations.
Pull Out Your Crayons
Another way to include your creativity in this process, which is important for getting past the mind’s tendency to criticize, doubt, and resist change, is to draw or paint a picture of your vision. Recall that image of yourself one year from now as clearly as you can, and use any medium you like to record it. Do not worry about your artistic talent or trying to make the image realistic, just record what you can. Even try to capture the feeling in colors and shapes, again don’t worry about being literal. For some more visually-oriented people, this image may be their vision statement, something that they place by their desk or altar and look at every day to help them connect to the way they want their lives to look and feel.
Create a Vision Board
Collage is another powerful way to use the power of images in our intention making. Images speak directly to the subconscious, and for many people they can be equal to or even more powerful than words for their vision statements. Even if you do create a verbal statement, making a vision board can help you choose the words, and having the board in an obvious place in your home can help you stay focused on your intention throughout the year.
Make a vision board by gathering images and words from magazines, flyers, and other printed materials. Pick images that evoke the feelings you want in your life, as well as ones that show images of people doing what you want to be doing. Arrange those images in a pleasing way on a stiff piece of cardboard and glue them down, perhaps coating the images with a varnish. Make the overall piece inspiring and pleasant to you.
Distill Positive Affirmations
Once you have the paragraph or so of your vision statement, refine it into short phrases that you can repeat every day. These will be your own personal positive affirmations. Make them concise and inspirational, short enough that you can memorize them. Keep them in the affirmative, using “I choose,” “I will,” and “I am becoming” phrases instead of “I will stop,” “or “I can’t do ___ anymore.” Pick three or four that are the most powerful and uplifting for you, memorize them, and repeat them to yourself out loud and silently whenever you remember.
Turn It Into a Song
This might seem silly at first, but the subconscious responds well to music and repetition. To really get your vision statement into your cells, make it into something you can sing to yourself. You never have to share it with anyone else, but singing your personal vision song can have a remarkably inspiring and uplifting affect on your attitude, which can shift what you believe is possible, therefore making it that much more like that you can actually manifest your vision for yourself and your life.
The thing about making a personal vision statement is that it’s yours. It is your life, and you get to decide how you want to shape it. You can just go through the motions in your life, that is your choice to make. Or you can choose to pay attention to what brings you joy, your values, and your desire to contribute to the world, and refine a statement – and by extension a way of being – that allows you to live a fulfilling and meaningful life.