Welcome to 2019 everyone! I know we are a week in and most of us have settled back into our daily routines but I wanted to take the time to share with you something that Shawn and I did that we found incredibly valuable- visualizing what this year will look like for us. In previous years we have done the usual goal setting techniques where we would sit down and type out what our goals were for different areas of our life. We did our best to keep things SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely) but it still felt like 2 weeks into the year we were back meandering on our usual habits with nothing changing.
It wasn’t until I met a mentor named Dr Axe that I realized how important visualization was. At first, I was hesitant to embrace this new way of working to make a better future. It seemed unnecessary, uncomfortable, and materialistic in some senses. Why would I want to visualize the type of house I was living in and what my kids were named? I resisted for about 6 months, and then read a book called “And David Perceived He Was King.” I talked about the impact this book had on me during a podcast episode, but to summarize, the book is all about knowing your identity and your worth. It wasn't until King David was years into his reign that he FINALLY realized that he was a king. Once he did realize his worth, he acted different and expected more. Each of us is a child of God and called to great things- its just hard to believe that as we work day in and day out in our banal routines. So how do we change this? For me, visualizing has enabled me to see a future that consists of more than what I am going through today. It’s like goal setting, but more because you are actually seeing what the results and consequences of you achieving a goal looks like.
So, I wanted to write this to share how Shawn and I went about this process. And if you get nothing else out of this exercise, at least you will have a hour or two of quiet reflection or quality time with your spouse. Dreaming is fun.
Step 1: Carve out 1.5 hours in your schedule
This is going to take a little bit.
Step 2: Bring your computer or a pen and paper
Whichever your choose/prefer.
Shawn chose a pen and paper, I typed on the computer.
Step 3: Go to a place thats out of your routine
Don't do this on your couch or at the kitchen table. I have realized how important our surroundings are to how we think. If you stick to your couch, you will doze off, check your phone, or be uninspired to think of anything more than relaxing right where you are.
Shawn and I went to a local coffee spot that we enjoyed the ambiance of. We sat in hard backed chairs instead of the cushioned ones to keep us engaged.
Step 4: Pray
Shawn and I thought it was important to start this whole deal with prayer. We thanked God for everything that last year brought and also prayed that he would help us focus on important things as we set our goals and vision for the upcoming year.
In total transparency, we want to do whatever God wants us to do. We want to think and dream about the things He wants us to think and dream about. Trying to visualize without asking for His vision would be missing the point!
Step 5: Set a 5 min timer
Shawn and I set a timer for 5 minutes for each section to visualize. We each spent about 3.5 minutes visualizing and then 1.5 writing. Think of what you want your life to look like a year from now, and then visualize what EXACTLY that LOOKS like. Then, write it down. Another way to approach this is to envision yourself a year from now and write a journal entry about what happened in the past year regarding this topic in your perfect world. Here is an example from my notes:
“Travel- Shawn and I have had a blast this year on our travels that have been better planned, thoughtfully accepted, and nicely spaced to give us comfortable time at home. We took one couples vacation just for her and I and loved spending time on the beach in Turks and Caicos. She looks SO good tan. We ate dinner by the water every night. The ski vacation that we take every year with our 3 favorite couples was also really good for our marriage because of all the healthy group conversation. I love how much positive community with others results in positive community with Shawn and I. We spent 3 days skiing, one where Shawn and I hit the slopes together. We took our annual missions trip to Mexico to build a house for a grateful family. Each of our trips was planned 2 months in advance which relieved stress and allowed anticipation. We only traveled away from Nashville for work 1/month. We made 2 trips each to our hometowns, and made sure to make it back home for church 40/52 Sundays this year.”
Notice, it's really only a subtle difference from goal setting. But, having to write that down and think about our time skiing, our time on the beach, etc, really makes a difference. Now you have something tangible to work for and have essentially started planning to make your dream happen.
If you’re having trouble getting started, write down your goals per usual, and then fill in the blanks. What does it look like to go to the gym 5 times a week? What muscle groups are your working, what does it feel like to get out of bed early in the morning? What do you eat after?
Step 6: Do it for each area of your life
This could differ for each of you, but generally should include topics such as… Finances, Travel, Family, Friends, Marriage, Health and Fitness, Philanthropy, Home, Faith, Business, Personal.
Step 7: Discuss AFTER completing all visualizations
Whether it's with your parents, siblings, or significant other, share your goals. This was really fun for Shawn and I. Its fun to dream, even better to dream with someone else! What was cool for us was that although our tangible goals differed, what we envisioned looks very similar.
Goals can be frustrating and seem useless, but SEEING what those goals result in can be fun. Dreaming is good for the soul. I hope some of you guys take the time to try out this new technique, it was worth it for Shawn and I! I would love to hear which topic you were able to visualize and your thoughts in general. I’ll see you in the comments below!