Do you struggle with knowing what your aim is in life? In other words, do you have a vision? Do you have something you can stare at in the distance to propel yourself forward?
I mentioned before that I don’t know why I’m in seminary. The reason I went in the first place ended up being the reason I’m not there at all. As I told a mentor of mine, my vision was “borrowed” — it wasn’t mine in the first place. But somehow it got me to where I needed to be.
So I quickly want to talk about why having a vision is important, why knowing who you want to be matters, and the steps I’ve taken toward embracing a new vision for my life.
Why having a vision is important
A vision is important because it gives you something to aim for. It can help you overcome the stress or frustrations of your present circumstances and it gives you something to hope for. Hope, interestingly enough, is a powerful motivator.
There are different kinds of vision. There are visions you might treat more like goals, such as something you want to do or obtain (think: retiring at 50 or purchasing a house on the beach).
But there is a deeper kind of vision, one that answers the question: Who do I want to become?
Knowing who you want to be matters
When goal-setting or dreaming about the future, most of us think of the things we want to have or do, and then we determine the steps to take in order to achieve those goals. The process eventually demands we also determine who we need to be in order to make those things a reality.
I’m flipping that model.
Instead of beginning with what you want to achieve, consider who it is you would be proud of becoming. It forces you to weigh your convictions, principles, and values alongside the vision you’re cultivating for your life.
For example, I want to be a man who promotes, protects, and provides for his family; who loves and honors others without judgment; and who is known for his faith, integrity, and his passion for people.
Sounds zealous, but that “vision for becoming” helps guide my decisions for what I do.
Would being a power-hungry business executive honor the vision for who I want to become? Probably not. Would working for a business or organization that doesn’t innately value others for who they are do justice to the integrity of my vision? Again, probably not.
Victor Frankl said, “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life. Everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus everyone’s task is as unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.”
When I forfeited the borrowed vision that led me to seminary, it demanded that I find a new one. Without a vision to propel me forward, I become idle. And when I become idle, I wither.
I am a man who is always working toward something.
What Frankl talks about is calling, and truthfully, the type of vision I am writing about is much the same. When we know who we are called to be, it makes determining what we are called to do much easier.
What I did to unearth a new vision for my life
Earlier this year I did some inner-work. Here are the steps I took:
- I journaled, prayed, and reflected on my life. This helped me determine who I’ve been, but also the kind of person I want to be, as you read above.
- I took an inventory of the way I’m uniquely wired. I looked at Myers-Briggs, the Enneagram, and StrengthsFinder 2.0. Those helped me understand how I interact with the world, how I process information/see the world, and how I’m naturally gifted.
- I created a list the things I’m passionate about. Taking a cue from John Maxwell, I answered the three questions: What do I sing about? What do I cry about? What do I dream about? These helped me determine the heartbeat of my passion.
- I discerned the intersection of all the roads. This was a difficult task, one that I sought help on. But I found where all of those things intersected: my gifts, my passions, and my vision for who I wanted to be.
Again, my goal was to unearth a new vision. I wanted one that was less short-sighted. Instead, I wanted one that offered room for maturity, adaptability, and growth, while still honoring the integrity of who I am and who I want to become.
This is what my vision was:
Becoming a seminary professor so I can teach church leaders how not to be douchebags. (reading that makes me shudder)
This is the new vision I came up with:
I’m going to change the world by helping others better their lives, become socially aware, and actively shape our world for good.
I’m eager to see how this new vision serves as a guide for me. And undoubtedly, you’ll see it unfold. But if you’re interested, I would love for you to try it and hear what you come up with.
What are your thoughts?
Was this helpful? Did those steps make sense to you? How would you handle this process differently?
I’d appreciate your feedback in the comments!