When you ask people about their goals, they are quick to name career or finance goals. What if we intentionally set goals that aligned with our happiness?
After decades of studying happiness, happiness scholar Paul Dolan identified the two-step formula to happiness:
- Step One: Pay attention to what makes you happy or brings you joy.
- Step Two: Design your life so it’s easier to do those things.
This is where designing a life vision comes in.
A life vision looks at your life from a holistic perspective.
Instead of simply setting goals based on your career and finance desires, you pay attention to what makes you happy in other parts of life such as personal growth, character, and relationships with your community.
Then, you create a lifelong vision based on what makes you happy in each of those areas.
Taking the time to sit down and create your vision can help you:
- Rediscover your true self,
- Feel unshakeable confidence, and
- Experience a new level of self-worth
The power of setting an intention is incredible.
If you want to change your life, you can’t just do the same thing every day. You have to do something differently.
For example, one of my goals for 2021 is to complete a trail marathon. But I couldn’t just do it with the same kind of training as a half-marathon. I have to move forward differently in order to achieve a different goal.
1. Choose life categories important to you
To begin, choose life categories that would be important to you and you want to prioritize. Examples of life categories include:
- 💻 Career
- 👯♀️ Friendships
- 👨👩👦 Family
- 🌏 Quality of Life
- 💰 Finances
- 🧘🏽♀️ Personal Character
- 🍃 Personal Growth
- 🏃🏻♀️Health & Fitness
Then, within each category, identify core positive affirmations.
Our negative beliefs about ourselves can get in the way of our goals.
When you identify positive affirmations, you create positive beliefs that will strengthen your brain and empower you to reach your highest potential in each category.
- 💻 Career: My writing inspires and moves people.
- 👯♀️ Friendships: My friendships are a safe place, and my friends are understanding.
- 🏃🏻♀️ Health & Fitness: I have strength and resilience that will push me forward.
After you’ve defined empowering beliefs in each category, write down what your highest self looks like in those categories.
For example, my highest fitness self runs ultramarathons.
After that, dig deeper.
- Why do you want that life?
- Why is that version of yourself important to you?
Next, you’ll identify which goals, tasks and habits will help you achieve your highest self in that category.
2. Create life-changing habits
Last year, I moved to a new city. After spending three years traveling, I craved connection. I craved deep, meaningful friendships.
I shared this with my gentle, yet assertive, coach.
“You talk about how you want to feel connected with others, but the habits you added to your habit tracker don’t reflect that,” she told me during one session.
Following her guidance, I committed to a scary, yet achievable, habit: go out for coffee with one new person each week.
It wasn’t easy, yet six months later, I felt connected with community, with my new housemates, and with deep friendships.
Just like many other things in life, that small habit resulted in compounding results.
What habits can you commit to for the next three months that will change your life forever?
The first step is knowing what you want most in life. The next step is identifying the tasks and habits you need to get there.
3. Set up a system to review your progress
After you set goals, create systems so that you can review and reflect on your progress.
- Use a habit tracker
- Schedule quarterly or monthly reviews
- Celebrate every benchmark you hit
Choose things aligned with that life vision
The next time someone asks for your time or energy, you’ll be confident about whether or not a “yes” is aligned.
When guided by your life vision, you feel confident saying “yes” only to things that are truly meaningful to you.