Clarity Through Visualization

The disciplined and courageous act of visualization echoes James Baldwin’s words of wisdom: “If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.” 

If you’ve been along on DRIVEN’s 2020 pilgrimage to Clarity, you may have used journaling to open your mind and recognize patterns in your values, thoughts and feelings. Our article on Self-Compassion was designed to take you to the attic of your mind, where through journaling, you may have discovered your emotional baggage. It’s only with that Self-Compassion that you can come to terms with the qualities that make you who you are, warts and all.

Are you ready to envision that Baldwinian limitlessness of your pursuits? The sooner you imagine it, the quicker you can plot a path to achieve it. This month, we’ll look at creating a vision of the future that brings Clarity to the present— no crystal ball necessary! Look back and think about what you’ve discovered in journaling. Use these findings to foresee your future aspirations. Only then can you craft your personal journey toward Clarity.  

Journaling Exercise: Values

Ask yourself what values typify you. When are you at peace? When are you exhilarated? When are you overwhelmed? When do you feel helpless? Whether or not you keep a journal, becoming intentionally self-aware will reveal your pattern. This is especially true if you can separate yourself from your FOMO and your susceptibility to marketing. Once this is achieved, it’s time to ask yourself the big questions about the future. 

Put aside the workplace perspective and consider the possible dimensions of your future. Grab a pad of paper and a pen (or if you’re open to it, colored pencils and crayons are even better). Then set a timer for 18 minutes and write a sentence or two about your vision for each of eight specific aspects of your life. Don’t think too hard; let these ideas come from your heart and your gut. You can even destroy your pages after the exercise. The eight aspects are: 

  • Health
  • Business & Career
  • Family & Friends
  • Significant Other & Romance
  • Finance
  • Personal Development
  • Fun & Recreation
  • Spirituality 

The empowering part of this exercise is to read back over your notes and examine when your version of the future takes place. Is it a month from now, 3 years from now, at your retirement party, or perhaps at your memorial service? In any instance, you’re thinking about aspirational possibilities. 

The challenging part of the exercise is pondering, without prejudice, what truly matters to YOU. When we spend too much time and energy doing things to please others or because we think we “should” or in response to FOMO, we end up living our lives the way we assume others want us to. 

Adjusting Your Vision

After you’ve written out your future-focused statements, take some time to consider the consequences of not achieving your goals. If there is no sense of regret for not meeting these goals, or no sense of urgency to begin the journey, you may reconsider your goals.

Reaching a goal implies it has some importance to you, while self-motivation or fearing the cost of non-achievement is what prompts action. Honesty about what’s truly important to your future will give you the energy in the present to begin your transformation, but this may require going back to clarify and reignite your enthusiasm. 

A Personal Example

In scribbling about the category of “Health”, my vision is instinctively related to weight gain. I, like most women, suffer from negative body image, hardwiring me to think “Trim down to 120 lbs.” But in imagining what people will likely say at my funeral, my weight becomes a non-topic. With this new insight, I can revisit the “Health” category with greater Clarity. My actual weight, it turns out, matters less to me than my desire to be strong and active until the end of my days. This aspiration passes the litmus test because I’d be miserable if I couldn’t exercise. 

From this sort of standpoint, consider how you can craft your own aspirational sentences. Break your aspirations down into the smallest possible steps leading to that future vision. What daily protocols and practices can you create? If you’re like me, it’s as simple as walking briskly every day for cardiovascular benefit.   

One last thought is to revisit your goals annually and notice which ones change vs. which ones remain consistent. Despite your daily stresses, this protocol will be a pleasant reminder that you’re doing what’s most important for your future self. In other words, you’re “covered”, and your future self is thankful for the newfound Clarity!

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