We are dependent on imagery as the beam that guides us.
In the modern world it is easy to move unconsciously through our days. Taking care of what and who needs taking care of becomes a reactive experience, one that feels a lot more like going through the motions than living an intentional life. We all have dreams, things we hope to accomplish, creative projects we long to pursue. And we’ll get to them as soon as we clean the kitchen, fold the laundry and drop our daughter off at dance class. Sound familiar? One way to tap into what we long for, what we desire, is a journal writing technique known as visioning. Here, we will take the time to answer the fundamental questions of living a more intentional, purpose-driven life:
Where am I?
Where am I going?
How do I get there?
Visioning is an extremely powerful, if not magical, exercise. Once our mind has a vision, it’s easier to bring that in to reality because it already exists in thought. And if you can imagine it, you can do it. Getting that image down on paper also helps us bring color and detail to our vision, and it helps us chart a path to get there. In her book, Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest, Christa Baldwin puts it this way:
Daydreaming is not the same as visioning. I tell writing students that the beginning of a story is like the threshold of a doorway. You want the reader to feel confident enough in the imagined world so that s/he will step into the story’s reality without hesitating. Visioning is the same kind of threshold. We need to create a reality so real to us that we will step into it with a sense that everything we need is present.
But before we began thinking about where we want to go, we must first figure out where we are. This is your foundation. Your current reality. Your starting point. There are probably some things you love about your life as it is now and probably some other things that you wish were different. Please be as honest as you can with yourself about your current situation. This writing is for your eyes only. Telling the truth about our current reality helps us clear out the energy of resistance to what is (i.e., constantly wishing something wasn’t the way it was) and simply accept the starting point. That’s all this really is…a clear snapshot of where you are beginning. With acceptance comes a feeling of letting go. We stop pushing against what simply is our current state of reality and we free up our energy to put towards the possibility of what could be, what we long for. With the freedom of acceptance and the beginning clearly in mind, it’s easier to envision where we want to go. With that, please find your journal and a pen. Let’s take 10 or 15 minutes and simply write in response to the following prompts:
This is where my life is right now…
This is what’s working in my life and what isn’t…
Once you have finished, set your pen down and congratulate yourself on the brave step of really seeing your current situation. Let that simply be as it is. No need to push against anything. No need to wish anything away. Simply bask in a moment of true acceptance. Of letting go. Of being where you are right now. Now, I want you to picture a calendar in your mind’s eye. Flip the pages forward…July, August, September….keep going until you get to one year from today. See that page in the calendar in your mind. Now imagine that the date is indeed one year from today. What are you doing? What are your surroundings? Who are you with? What are you wearing? What are eating? What does your ideal day, your ideal life, look like one year from now? Be as specific in your vision as possible. See, taste, hear, feel, smell the details. Make it come to life. Now when you are ready, open your eyes, turn to a fresh page, and write a journal entry dated one year from today. Describe your vision for where you are a year from now. Do not hold back! Let this be your vision. What you truly desire and long for. This is your opportunity to play, dream, fantasize on paper. Take 20 minutes or so and flush this out in as much detail as possible.
When you are finished, read through your vision. Does it light you up? Fill you with longing? Get you excited about what’s to come? Good!
But we’re not done yet. Turning our vision into reality generally has three components:
An honest starting point
A clear vision based on true desire and longing
If you are a spiritual sort, like me, visioning may be your strong suit, but the truth of the matter is that without action our vision will remain just that…a vision. What actions can you take to start you moving on the path from here to your vision? Brainstorm those in list form now.
When you are done, start a new page in your journal. Write at the top, “Where I am” and at the bottom write the date a year from now or a few words describing your vision. Draw a line connecting the two. In between, write the various action steps that came up for you during your brainstorm session in boxes along that line. These are the steps that will help get you from here to there.
Let this action plan be fluid. Let your vision evolve. Just find a way to act, to participate in the creation of your vision. To move forward on the path. It is not set in stone. The important thing is that you keep moving and adjust as necessary as you move forward. Refer to your vision often. This is your blueprint for moving forward. Let it guide you and inform your choices. Revisit or repeat this exercise whenever you feel stuck or distanced from a beautiful, inspiring vision of what’s next for you.