Remember when you were a kid and someone would ask what you wanted to be when you grew up? You always had an answer. A pro baseball player, football player, doctor, lawyer, or maybe a teacher.
Mine was an astronaut. I dreamed about being on a shuttle and flying to the moon. There was this book I would check out from the library that had all the shuttle flight check-lists. I would lay on my bed, upside down, and pretend I was the shuttle commander running through all those check-lists, pushing the right buttons, and launching into space.
As kids, we could see ourselves being those people and doing the things those people do. Hitting home runs, scoring touchdowns, saving lives, or blasting off into space. Our young minds would let ourselves envision what we could be and it was powerful.
Losing The Dreams
Yet, somewhere along our life journey, most of us started to let go of those dreams and visions of ourselves. We grew up, start putting limits on ourselves, and listened to the limits that other people put on us.
My astronaut dream ended when I read something about that you couldn’t be an astronaut if you wore glasses. Well I was doomed. I’d been wearing glasses since I was 2. Looking back now, I don’t remember where I read that and I’m not even sure if that was even true. It wasn’t but we didn’t have Google back then to check. What I do remember, vividly all these years later, is the disappointment I felt that I couldn’t be an astronaut. And I let that dream go.
But here’s the thing. No matter what age you are, you can still dream about what you want to be. You can envision what that is, write it down, and start to work backwards to figure out a path to get there.
Now I know what you are thinking – “Carlos, I’m 41 years old, I can’t be a pro baseball player anymore.” Ok, well then decide how important baseball is to you, couple that with what you are really good at, and then figure out what role you can do to be a part of a team or maybe the league.
The key here is to get into a space where you can strip away all your fears and external influences to get down to really deciding, “What do I want to be?” It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or elaborate. It just has to be honest and something that truly motivates you from within.
Defining The Self Vision
So how do you do it? Here’s some simple steps:
- Set aside an uninterrupted hour to sit down and figure out your vision for yourself. You will probably be more than this but investing an hour is enough to get started.
- Take out a piece of paper and write down the question, “What do I want to be in life?”
- Think about what is important for you to be and write down whatever comes to mind.
- Look at your list and then write it in a narrative that explains a more broad vision of yourself. For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s vision of himself, during his body building days was, “I want to be the best body builder of all time.”
- Once you have that initial narrative, put your vision narrative somewhere where you can see it and read it everyday. I have it in my closet, with the 14 things I want to change about myself.
As an example, here is my current vision statement:
I am happy with who I am and the value I bring to the world. I am a loving husband. I am a wonderful father. I am a successful entrepreneur. I am an amazing teacher. I am the best servant leader for those in my life.”
Mine is a little long and encompasses quite a few things. But all of these things are important to me. Now, when I do anything with my time, I think about this vision and measure what I am doing against it. If the thing I am doing doesn’t serve my broader vision, I stop doing that thing. If it does, then no matter how challenging the thing is, I’m more incentivized to keep going. I know that deep down, even if its hard, its going to bring me one step closer to getting to my vision.
Evolving The Self Vision
Over time, your vision of yourself will evolve. And that’s ok. Evolve your vision statement with how life changes. But be careful not to evolve your statement just because something got hard. Be sure to stay true to yourself about what you want from your life. If you feel it deep down, then listen to that and figure out how to get there. Then with that vision, and the work you did to put together your life change list, you can really start to define a path based on goals to get you where you want to be.
If you followed these steps, then congratulations! You just finished step 2 of investing in yourself. I know, its a lot of work. I get it. I’ve been there and have felt how overwhelming it could be. I’ve also thought to myself, on many occasions, that all this is stupid and “Why am I doing this?” The truth is this process isn’t for everyone. The things I talked about in this post are what has worked for me, even in my moments of self doubt. Maybe something else will work for you. The important thing is finding what works and letting it help you define the best vision of yourself.
Getting the things you want out of life takes a lot of work. Defining the vision of yourself gives purpose to why the work is important to you. Once you establish the importance of the work, and you do it with purpose, you’ll be one step closer to becoming unstoppable.