Have you ever got into a car, knowing you had to be somewhere, but not sure exactly where you were going? I imagine that’s unlikely. It is critical to know where you want to get to before you start your engine. You may not be sure of your route but that’s something you can figure out along the way; knowing your destination is the most important bit.
An inspiring life vision is what we wish to be our life purpose, expressed in clear words, thoughts, images and even feelings. It serves as a reminder of what will provide a sense of fulfilment and purpose to our lives. One thing I’ve noticed is that people generally wish to be remembered fondly, and to give something of value to each other, and so our life purpose always connects us to others. It is something we must actively choose and continue to work on throughout our lives. Shaping a life purpose is a dynamic process in which we are actively involved in designing and making changes according to how our experiences are shaping us. In essence, a life vision is something that will inspire us to take action because it is a representation of who we are and who we wish to be.
It can be challenging deciding where to start this exciting journey, so I’ve outlined some steps to get you going. Work on the steps in the order that they are listed and insha Allah soon you will have a clear and inspiring vision, both in your mind’s eye and on paper.
Step one: Create an ‘as-if ‘picture
Where do we begin to formulate a life vision? Well, that’s both the simplest and most difficult question to answer. The most important thing in creating a life vision is being able to ‘visualise’ or see your life as you would like to live it. Read the instructions fully before you do the following exercise:
Sit down at a time when you will be undisturbed; make sure you have your journal handy. Close your eyes and imagine that that you are now 80 years old. Today you are meeting all your friends and family for a reunion lunch; some of these people have been in your life every day whereas some others you will be meeting after a number of years.
Imagine that you are walking into the room and you notice that several people have made a special effort to be here. There are people whose lives you’ve touched, and they are there to thank you and honour you for who you are. Allow this movie to unfold for a few minutes or as long as is comfortable, then come back to the present moment and open your eyes. Once you open your eyes, answer the following questions:
• Who was there at the party? (Friends, family, children, grandchildren etc)
• What did you hear people saying about you?
• What was your greatest accomplishment throughout your life?
• What were people saying about it?
• What else stood out about the picture?
Don’t worry if the movie was a little fuzzy. The idea is to get your mind thinking about what you would like to accomplish in your life. Write down whatever came to mind. Do this exercise over a few days; keep adding any information that comes in with the next visualisation.
Step two: Ask the important questions
The first step was to begin to get the thoughts flowing. The next step is to do some concrete work and ask the questions that are really important.
• What do I really, really want in, and from my life?
• How do I want to use the life that I’ve been given by Allah (SWT)?
• What would I really like to say to my Lord when He asks me about how I utilised my life?
• What legacy would I like to leave behind when I’m gone?
• How do I want people to feel about me when I’m gone?
• To what extent do I want to make an impact while I am here?
Take your time in answering these questions. Put your notebook away. Then repeat this process two more times leaving a gap of a week or more between each time. Compare your answers and notice the common threads. Those common threads will help you formulate your vision statement.
Step 3: Formulate a vision statement
The next step is to take your thoughts and carve out a vision statement. A vision statement is a powerful statement that states your purpose for your life. This statement will not be about one specific area of your life; instead it should encompass your whole life. It is a statement that expresses your values, for example, “I live to empower and uncover potential” or “My purpose is to empower people to communicate effectively.”
Our vision statement inspires us to set goals, but it serves a much larger purpose as well. When we share our vision statement with others, they become inspired and aligned to what we are striving for. This support encourages us to keep going; to elicit the support we may need to make things happen. Look back to the work you did in the previous step and make a note of all the value words you used. Value words, for example are: “inspire, make a difference, change, contribute etc.” Next write a sentence that starts with (choose the one that resonates most with you):
I live to …
I am someone who …
My purpose in life is to …
Now look back to your vision statement, close your eyes and say it to yourself. Notice how this feels. Keep tweaking the statement till you have something that feels right for you. Keep repeating for a week or more before moving to the next step.
Step 4: Create a vision board
Now is the time when you can make your vision come to life – and have some fun in the process! Buy a poster board, or perhaps clear a space on a wall in your office. Look for pictures that relate to your vision or represent things you really want in your life, then cut them out and stick them on your vision board. Make sure to include all areas of your life such as your relationship, spirituality, work, the home you wish to live in etc. For example, if you see a picture of a wonderful garden in a magazine, the kind of garden you would like to have, cut it out and paste that on your board. Make sure to choose pictures that inspire you, that represent what you really want. If you find something better than the one you have, then replace it. Once you see your vision board filling up, spend a few moments every day looking at it. Notice how wonderful this feels. If you notice an area that’s missing or something that doesn’t feel quite right, change it right away. Your vision board is dynamic, so you can change things any time you need to.
Step 5: Take action and re-evaluate
Once you are happy with your life purpose, the first action to take is to share with other people. Tell those who are close to you what you wish to achieve. Insha Allah they will notice your enthusiasm and believe in your vision as well. Notice the opportunities that will present themselves and make sure to take action. Also set yourself a timeline when you will reassess your vision. The beginning of the holy month of Ramadhan is a good time to do this, as it is a yearly opportunity to take stock of where you’re headed. Remember, a vision needs to be big enough to keep you inspired your whole life. The key is to find smaller missions and projects within it that will represent you living it.
I hope that you will enjoy this wonderful process. Remember to keep working on your vision so that you’re living your best life and being who you truly wish to be.
Sayeda Habib is an experienced life coach to Muslim sisters from various walks of life. She empowers sisters who want to create an inspiring and compelling vision for their lives. She runs one to one sessions and group workshops. Contact Sayeda on www.makelifehappen.com or email Sayeda@makelifehappen.com