Defining the Vision for Your Life | Counseling | Therapy

Defining the Vision for Your Life

Ashlyn Karre — Intern therapist

Defining the Vision for Your Life image

Defining the Vision for Your Life

What is the vision of your life? While that sounds like a daunting question it is actually fairly easy to tackle. Before jumping into your vision for life you might be wondering, “Why does my vision for life matter?” or “What is the point of defining what my vision for life is?” Those are just two of the many questions you might be asking yourself when faced with defining your vision for life.

You might think having a vision for life is not important but in actuality it can guide you and your choices for the future. The vision for life is a comprehensive picture of what you want in your life, or what you do not want. It helps provide a picture for what is possible for your future and for you to achieve in life. For many people it is the same as their life purpose or mission.

When developing your vision for life you will develop the picture of your optimal health and wellbeing. You will imagine what you want for the future and you will determine how far into the future you look. It can be months or years. Many people tend to look three to five years into the future. When building the vision for your life, describe what it looks like, include both large and small details, and include the people involved, emotions that are felt, and what you have to overcome to get there. You want to develop a VIVID picture of your future.

Some prompts for beginning to build the vision for your life:

  • Take a moment and envision the optimal picture of wellness for you one, three or five years from now. What does that look like for you?

  • What does the best version of you look like in one to five years?

  • Where do you want to see your overall health/wellbeing in the next three to five years?

While those might seem like very broad questions initially, they can be broken down into more specific manageable questions to ask yourself. Here are some more specific questions you can ask yourself to really hone in on your vision:

  • What are you doing for work?

  • What are you doing for pleasure?

  • What are you doing in your leisure time? (Things we do in our leisure time do not always equate to what we do for pleasure. Often leisure time includes cleaning your house, running errands, going to the gym, etc.)

  • What do you see around you?

  • Where are you living?

  • What does your physical environment look like? (Open farmland, a quiet suburban neighborhood, or a bustling city?)

  • What do you feel physically?

  • How do you feel physically?

  • What do you feel emotionally?

  • How do you feel emotionally?

  • What are you doing in this state of best health?

  • What steps did you have to take to get to your best health?

  • Who is around you? (Spouse, partner, children, pets, extended family, friends, coworkers, supervisor? They are all important to consider when building your vision for the future.)

  • What do you hear?

  • What do you taste? (Your morning latte, your favorite dessert, or your favorite meal from your childhood?)

  • What do you smell?

  • What does your environment feel like physically?

  • What did you do to get to that space?

  • What steps did you take to get to where you are in your future? (Looking at your personal life, professional life, and physical and emotional health.)

  • What obstacles did you overcome?

  • How did you overcome them?

  • What inspires you about this vision?

While that list might seem like a lot of questions to go through and maybe you think some of them are funny, like the question about what do you hear and what do you smell, but they are actually pretty important questions to ask. When exploring your vision it is valuable to bring in your five senses. There is research that shows you have more memories and feelings tied to your sense of sound and smell compared to the other senses. Which is why certain music or smells trigger such strong emotional responses.

Your vision for your future is important because it serves as an anchor for short-term goals. Seeing the bigger picture for your future can help motivate you to create smaller goals and take the steps needed to achieve the larger goals. Most importantly, identifying your vision will help you remember why you want to move towards change.

Remember, you want your vision to be as VIVID as possible, some questions that may help you dig deeper into your vision and your inspiration behind it include:

  • What inspires you about your goals in life?

  • What does achieving your goal or purpose make possible for you?

  • What key choices or behaviors support your vision for yourself?

  • What choices and behaviors might you want to consider changing in order to achieve your vision?

Your vision is supported by your values. What you value in life motivates you to make change and guide your choices. Your values fuel your actions, emotions, and behavior. Values are tied into ethics and morals; they guide your judgment and prepare you to choose actions according to their consequences.

Identifying your values is important because when change is connected to values you are more motivated to make changes and to persist through the obstacles you may face. If you are asking yourself “how do I figure out what my values are?” Look no further, here are some questions you can ask yourself to help assess your values:

  • What really matters to you in your life?

  • What do you value?

  • What brings you joy and happiness?

  • What is important about X (your health, self-care, etc.) for you?

  • What inspires you about your vision?

  • What matters to you about your vision?

  • What qualities of your vision stand out to you?

If you are having trouble pulling values out of thin air a quick Google search of “values lists” will yield you many results. Once you have that list of values go through it and select the ones that resonate with you. After that, narrow that list down to ten, then to five. There is nothing wrong with having a list of values, but identifying five to ten core values can provide you with a blueprint for building what you want out of life.

It can be intimidating to think about the unknown, especially if it is your own future you are thinking about. Feeling stuck while identifying your vision and your values (or at least part of it) is bound to happen. Some of the most common pitfalls of vision planning (and solutions to get out of that pit) include:

  • Planning, not “vision-ing”: Many people confuse vision creation with creating an action plan. People, in general, are so action oriented that they often forget envisioning and jump straight to working on it. Visioning is the time where you can dream, it is a time for creating the fuel that will ignite the fire for change. A Japanese proverb says “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” So step back, slow down, take a breath, or enlist the help of a professional.

  • Being conservative in your vision: many people define their vision in end-game terms that seem realistically achievable, that is not what a vision is supposed to be. Your vision is the picture on the front of a puzzle box, it is full, it is complete, it is rich. You are supposed to be inspired by your vision, so step outside the box and dream big. If you want to grab some markers or colored pencils and draw your vision that is okay too!

  • Lacking clarity: You just read that your vision is supposed to be clear and specific, but what do you do if you cannot find that clarity. What do you do if your vision looks like you are not wearing your eyeglasses? If you are struggling with clarity, find the time and space to focus on your vision, it can feel tough but push through. Write down your vision, if it seems murky keep on thinking about it, keep asking yourself the questions from above. Dig deep into yourself, look at where you want to go, what outcomes you desire, and what resources you may need (that taps back into your values you listed earlier). Finally, work backwards and list the milestones you had to complete to achieve your vision.

Mental health plays an immense role in physical health, and vice versa. Having a part of your vision that is dedicated to your health and wellbeing can be a critical stepping off point for developing goals for your mental health. Think about what you want your mental health (and physical health) to look like in your future. Does it include maintenance therapy sessions, just to stay on track? Does it include weekly therapy? Does it include exercise? Does it include regular check ups with your primary care provider? If you are struggling with developing mental health goals here are some suggestions:

  • Building strong support systems

  • Eating healthy food and exercising

  • Practicing mindfulness and meditation

  • Using healthy coping strategies to manage stress

  • Reducing screen time

  • Prioritizing sleep

  • Practicing self-care and self-compassion

  • Using healthy communication strategies

  • Removing substance use from daily life

  • Seeking mental health treatment when needed.

If building a vision for your future or identifying your values sounds daunting and you would like some assistance from a trained therapist please reach out to 215-922-5683 x 100 or schedule directly online. For your convenience, we have five in-person offices and can also provide counseling and therapy virtually.

InPerson Therapy & Virtual Counseling: Child, Teens, Adults, Couples, Family Therapy and Support Groups. Anxiety, OCD, Panic Attack Therapy, Depression Therapy, FND Therapy, Grief Therapy, Neurodiversity Counseling, Sex Therapy, Trauma Therapy: Therapy in Providence RI, Philadelphia PA, Ocean City NJ, Santa Fe NM, Mechanicsville VA