If you have been following this blog for a while, you’ll recognize this content. It’s become my Arlo Guthrie Alice’s Restaurant Massacree (a spoken song played every year around Thanksgiving) or my Love Actually (the best ever Christmas movie we watch every year). Likewise, I like to play this year-end post every year.
It’s an exercise I like to do to set me up for the next three years, on a rolling three-year basis, of course. I prefer this exercise to New Year’s resolutions which have never seemed that meaningful to me. It could be the ones I choose, but I’d instead think about where I want to be and what I want my life to look like than to make rules for myself and restrict things like carbohydrates or those new boots I want to buy. It sets a better intention. I’m striving for a future I can visualize rather than disciplining for an outcome.
Before I share how to do the exercise, a personal story on why it is so powerful.
I had a decent job and a full life in Seattle in 1999. One morning, I was riding the bus into work and was thinking about the weekend I had just enjoyed while plotting what I’d do the following weekend.
That’s when I realized I didn’t want to live for the weekends anymore.
Kind of a big realization, no? I looked around me on the bus at all the people who had no idea of the lightning strike that had just occurred, and they were too busy vacantly staring straight ahead. My mind went into action. “What do I do now,” I wondered?
Over the next few weeks, I started to dream about what my life should be like. I knew I wanted to be back in a small town in the mountains and have access to visit the city I loved. I wanted a small home, sort of like a cabin but not rustic; cozy. As for my career, I would be doing something creative. And it would be my own business. I wasn’t sure what exactly, but I’d be working independently.
Geographically, I wanted to stay in the Northwest.
Other criteria: I need to be able to ski. Skiing is central to my existence and happiness.
I mentally painted a detailed picture of what I wanted my life to look like. I didn’t know how it would happen, and I didn’t write it down. I wasn’t even consciously doing it – it was just a daydream. But I carried this vision around with me in my head and began talking about it.
The following year, the company I worked for purchased a ski resort I had never heard of in Sandpoint, Idaho: Schweitzer Mountain. I was sent there on several occasions to assist with projects and fell in love with the area and people.
Later, in the fall of 2001, the marketing director resigned just before ski season started and I was asked to take her position. I had two weeks to wrap up my job in Seattle, prepare my condo for rent, pack up and move to start a new life and find a place to live. I’d have to present our marketing plan to the executive team days after arrival.
Three years later, I needed more challenge than the ski resort job could give me. But by then, I’d met Patrick, who would eventually become my husband, and I’d created a life I didn’t want to leave. I had no choice in my mind but to take my ultimate big leap: leave a dream job and start my practice.
I took the pieces I loved about my work – communications and public relations and launched Big Leap Creative in 2004, with the ski resort agreeing to be my first client.
Patrick and I bought a small home on the outskirts of Sandpoint. One morning in July of 2004, as I made my coffee, it hit me
Holy crap! This is what I had envisioned back in Seattle, and I had forgotten about that!
It took me five years to ultimately realize that dream but let’s say after three, I was well on my way, which is why I like to do a three-year vision instead of New Year’s resolutions.
Vishen Lakhiani confirms this thinking:
“We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in one year but we underestimate what we can do in three years.” – The Code of the Extraordinary Mind
So, how do you do it? If you want a more formalized process, Vishen Lakhiani walks you through it in his book linked above, along with accompanying videos. He breaks life down into three categories. Within each of these categories, he leads you through dozens of questions:
Experiences – Describe the adventures and relationships you want to have.
Growth – Describe your physical, mental and intellectual growth.
Contribution – Describe your career, creative outlets, and community participation.
Here is a worksheet I created and modified from this very exercise. Download it and work on it this afternoon! It takes about 15 minutes, and I’ve saved my sheets from over the years and revisit regularly.
Don’t worry about the “how.”
Just think about the end game, what it looks like, what it feels like. I didn’t know exactly what my business would be. I just knew what it would feel like.
We all know when you have a road map for what you want, you are far more likely to achieve it. So give it a try, and please share with me any ideas or processes you use by hitting “reply.” I’d love to hear from you.
I sincerely wish you a Happy New Year, and thanks for being a part of this community.
Take care out there,
Some ways I may be able to help you and your team:
Need Guidance And Accountability? Take a big leap: I advise purpose-driven individuals who want to make a big change, level up their career, start a new chapter, or launch a thing. I still have a few spaces available in January for my Take a Big Leap Advisory program. Respond here, and we can schedule a time to discuss.
Help Non-Profit Team Members Level Up their Storytelling. In this three-part series, I can work with your team to help you elevate your organization’s communications and storytelling skills. Want more details? Respond here to schedule a time to talk.
Digital Transformation. Need to bring your work online? I’m here to help. Contact me for details.
Stay in touch.
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