I interviewed when I was seventeen years old. A few months later I was playing hero on a fire engine. Goal decided and target acquired. For the next several years I studied and learned, applying myself to the career track of a fire fighter. Somewhere along the way my focus started to wander. Trying to renew the vigor and excitement I started with, I applied for a law enforcement job. The next two years were spent working for the sheriff’s department. I’ve since moved on to working as a software tester. Through all these changes I’ve struggled with finding my identity. What ties it all together? As I move from place to place, what am I striving for and what should I be preparing for? In every job I’ve held I have been easily replaceable. How can I change that and find a place where I’m doing the most important thing I can and where I’d be the most difficult to replace?
I want my life to be one of those connect the dot pictures. With each point along the way drawing my life’s story towards more completeness.
I’ve been in a place where I lost hope and I know that losing it is a very dangerous thing indeed. Things close in around you. Dreaming big starts to feel, and even become, impossible. All the things I’d done didn’t feel like they were part of something bigger.
I didn’t have a future vision and without a vision you will leave no legacy.
How can I chart a proper course and know my destination?
A. Be Honest
Wake up each day and look in the bathroom mirror, asking the person who stares back where they stand in God’s eyes. Until you can start to happily and honestly answer that question then your growth will be stunted. You will work against yourself with every step you take.
Be honest to both yourself and to others. It’s all the little, seemingly inconsequential lies we tell ourselves that always seem to eat at our souls. Nibbling away slowing. Almost unnoticed until it’s too late. I didn’t really speak that harshly, no need to reconcile. I don’t eat bad at all. My habits don’t control me. I don’t need to ask forgiveness for THAT….
It’s easy to dismiss it as something other than lying. Often it is just a “pushing to the back of the mind” of certain thoughts and guilt. Trying to cover what needs uncovering. But no endless supply of positive thoughts or uplifting mantras will keep the skeletons buried. Slowly, persistently, they rise to the surface.
Practice complete honesty. Admit what is broken. Start with honesty to yourself, then live it out with the honesty you give to others. That is the first step to fixing those things and moving on.
B. Find Your Vision
Gary North, author and creator of garynorth.com has an excellent tool for finding your life’s vision. You imagine yourself at your own retirement party. In every detail you think of the speech you want to give to those who have gathered. Who do you want to be there, cheering for you and the life you’ve led? What are you the most excited for having accomplished during your life?
Authors use this technique to write novels all the time. They ask themselves, How does it all end? Then they fill all the pages in between the beginning and that ending. Use the same thing in your life. It won’t make your life “boring.” You may know the ending, but all the pages in between are blank and full of adventure. It will bring both motivation AND peace when you know where you want to end up. You know what you’re working towards, so you can start to develop the battle plan, and you can dream up all the tactics you need to follow to reach that final destination and victory.
A lot of the trivial “bucket list” items will lose value as you develop this future vision of where you are headed. We run around frantically, disjointedly racking up accomplishments to wow others with, instead of buckling down and doing the work that will actually bring us more in line with our Calling.
A heavy burden is lifted from your shoulders when you have a plan. Know where you are headed and the present suddenly becomes much more exciting and full of opportunity.
I’m working on my future vision. Why don’t you develop a vision for your life as well?