Imagine your best friend knocks on your door. She is super excited and says “pack your bags, we’re going on a road trip.”

What do you need to know before you jump in the car with her?

If you thought “I need to know where I’m going so I know what to pack,” you’d be right.

The same is true when starting a new chapter in your life. Whether you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness, lost a spouse or retired you need to know where you’re going. You need to In-vision your future.

Lot’s of people have visions and dreams. But it’s not enough to get them off the couch.  Our stories of what we should want and what will make others happy permeate and distort our dreams.

Yet, to In-Vision is to create a life vision that is of your heart and soul. This requires inward reflection and why I refer to it as In-Visioning. In-Visioning pulls you into your future because it speaks to your inner desires and no one else’s.

Why In-Visioning Is The Step You’ve Been Missing

By this point in your life, from starting college to getting an “adult job” to getting married you’ve started a few new chapters. You got to each chapter through a series of choices. But it’s likely each choice was at the prompting of your family, friends or society. Did any of your choices get you close to how you want to feel?

It’s time your new chapter fulfilled your needs. That’s what In-Visioning does. It’s put you in the driver’s seat of your future and guides you to your dreams. Your In-Vision is the compass to freedom.

Your vision doesn’t have to be grandiose or involve changing the world or leaving your job. It could be all those or none of those. Igniting your life is not about upending your life, unless of course you want to. If you dreamt of being a ballerina as a child, it doesn’t mean you quit your job and audition for the New York Ballet. A vision can be as simple as how you want to feel every day, the kind of people you want to work with, or where you want to live. Your vision can include who you want to spend your time,  how you spend your free time, and the experiences you want to have.

All this brings us to the question: how do you find your In-Vision? Below are some tried and true In-Visioning tools; tools I give my life igniting clients.

Finding Your Vision Is Like Picking Out A Puppy 

If you have ever gone to buy a puppy, you know you don’t pick out the puppy. The puppy who jumps on you, licks your face and sits in your lap without coaxing is your puppy. Your puppy chooses you.

Similarly, you don’t pick out your vision. Your vision picks you.

This doesn’t mean In-Visioning is a passive process. Your vision won’t find you if you sit on the couch or work 80 hours a week. You only find your vision by interacting with people, playing, exploring, reading, and doing things you enjoy. There are many In-Visioning tools that I describe in my upcoming book, Exiting The Hamster Wheel. I share a few tools below.

Three Tools For Creating Your Next Chapter

1. My Perfect 10. Journaling is a powerful and important In-Visioning tool. It ranges from free flowing thoughts to structured exercises like My Perfect 10 below.

In your journal, complete the following sentence: “My ideal, perfect 10 [life/relationship/career/body/home] looks, smells, and feels like _____. Write down all the things you want out of this new chapter. Be sure to write down all the characteristics, traits, sights, and sounds of your new chapter. Don’t forget to include how you want to feel. For example, My ideal, perfect 10 career is being a writer and speaker who travels around the world. I travel live in exotic locales for weeks at a time, speaking to small and large audiences. My perfect career will let me feel free, energized and purposeful.

  1. Book Magnet. Have you ever noticed how the books on a person’s bookshelf tells you a lot about them? They also tell you about yourself. They tell you your interests and where you’re willing to invest your time and money. Your books are a looking glass into your vision, if not your soul.

To start, set aside 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of your book collection. After a moment of quiet to clear your mind, sit down and look at your books – both digital and physical. In a journal, note any themes you see. Is half your personal library books on travel, home repair or 6th century French art? Maybe your next chapter involves travel, home improvement or being a docent at an art museum. Your books give you a jumping off point to find your vision.

For example, when I was starting a new life chapter after being diagnosed with MS in 2009, I noticed a large part of my library was nutrition, psychology, spirituality and stress reduction books. This discovery led me to explore health careers and I later became a health coach. (I should also note I had a large collection of management, leadership and business books, a sign my current HR career was also part of my vision).

If you don’t have a book collection, head to your local library or bookstore. Imagine you had a $100 to spend on books. What would you buy? These books might just point you in the right direction.

  1. Informational Interviews. The above In-Visioning tools can lead to many ideas about your life’s next chapter. But how do you decide? The best way I’ve found is to get out and interview people.

To start, find a person who has or is doing something you think you want. It could be a job you are contemplating, working for a company you think you’d like to work for, has a relationship you admire, lives in a city you feel pulled toward, or has a overcome something you’re currently struggling with. Interview this person. Find out what they like and dislike about their job or company. How they come to work there or what was their career path. How did they found their spouse, how did they build such a strong relationship. What do they love or hate about their city. How did they overcome the struggle. Ask and listen.

The more people you interview the more you’ll learn about your vision and the best ways to create it. You also might learn what you don’t want, which is useful. For example, when I was looking for a new career a few years ago, one of my former co-workers suggested I check out recruiting. I interviewed several recruiters and discovered it was not the career for me and helped me focus in on HR

You can use Informational Interviewing no matter what domain your next chapter is effecting. Maybe you want to know about a neighborhood or city you think you want to move to. Maybe you’re looking for your future husband and need help figuring out where you finding your ideal mate. No matter your vision, you can talk to someone who is living it and find out how they went about it.

Life Igniting Challenge: In-Visioning Your Next Chapter

Ready to create your next life chapter? Use one In-Visioning tool a week for the next three week. Share what you discover in the comments below.

Also, if you have a favorite In-Visioning practice, something that has worked for you, share in the comments below.

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