When I was in the third grade one of the class parents was going to school to be some sort of child therapist and spoke to us about setting goals and the importance of visualization. She guided us through some exercises to help us determine the life we wanted to live so we could set goals that would have the desired end result.
Even though it was long ago, I can still see the pictures in my mind like it was yesterday. I visualized myself pulling up a long road on to a larger property with an averaged size home. My child was playing with the animals outside and I walked in the door to see my husband cooking.
I set down my bag, gave him a hug, jumped right in and helped him. I’m amazed that at such a young age I knew the importance of a deep farmhouse sink. We talked about our days, set the food out on a large picnic table outside and watched as our friends and family came driving up for a great summer dinner.
Some things have changed in my mind. My husband looks like my husband and not Christopher Reeves, and I’d rather be driving a Volkswagen Golf TDI than my childhood dream car of a Porsche 911. And sadly, when I think about the friends and family coming over to eat, my Dad who passed away is no longer among them. But the reality has not changed that much. Through visualization I learned:
- Family is important to me. I had a child, a husband, and was surrounded by more friends and family. While I don’t always like being around people, building those connections is important to me, and I don’t want to be too busy to do that.
- I wanted a cooperative relationship. I once asked my mother whose job it was to make dinner. She looked at me strangely and said, “Whoever gets home first.” My parents were friends and partners, and believed in working together to make a life together. I had a stunning example that I really strived to find in my husband, and I’m happy to say I did.
- Space is a priority. In my drive home I barely saw a neighbor. Later in life, I thought I might really like to live in my nearest major city, San Francisco. I interviewed at a building on something like the 23rd floor. I looked at all the tiny buildings with all the people and felt claustrophobic and sick. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still one of my favorite cities in the world, but I know better than to try and live in the heart of it.
- Flexibility is important. In my exercise, it was obviously a weekend, but I’d popped in for work for a few hours and was heading home. It is my understanding that I prefer flexible fields and am not well-suited to a 9 to 5 job, and 2o years later, I’m not.
SO NOW, HOW DO YOU DO THIS?
- Find a quiet space, and just relax for a bit. Try to turn off all the to-do’s going through your head and all the voices of what you’re supposed to do. Just think about you, and possibly significant people in your life (spouses, children).
- It’s helpful if you can have a journal and write or type as you’re thinking. You can even use it as a brainstorming diagram.
- Pick a point in the distant future. Visualize yourself coming home. Start asking yourself questions like:
- Where is home?
- Who’s there waiting for you?
- What do you do when you come home?
- What do you see that’s important to you there?
- Where were you coming from?
You can write your own story by visualizing the life you want. Next, we’ll talk about any needed adjustments to your visualization and how to start setting goals to make the life you want.