Part 4 of a 5-part series on Designing a Meaningful Life
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Get caught up with all episodes in the Developing a New Focus series.
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.
– 1 Timothy 4:4-5
Step 4 – Develop a Vision
Before we put any plan of action or design together, we need to be able to define exactly what we want to accomplish – not just for the short term, but also the long term.
Lots of ideas and dreams never come to fruition because they remain romantic fairy tales or ideals that haven’t been developed into a workable vision.
During the past few weeks as we have been working through this series on designing a meaningful life, you have questioned and evaluated who you are, what you believe, and where you currently are in life.
You have recognized and confronted fears that inhibit motivation.
You have reflected on your dreams and passions and why they are important. You can add to that by playing the “what if” game in a positive way. What if you did this or that? How might it bring you closer to what you want to achieve?
Then it’s time to ask, “What else is required before I begin to construct goals?”
It’s not only clarity we want, but how our goals might affect our relationships, families, financial concerns, etc.
- What resources do you have at your disposal right now? What has to be acquired?
- What time wasters or unproductive habits need to be removed or replaced?
- What support do you have? Support includes friends who listen and encourage, are honest and comfortable giving you hard reality answers and not just agreements.
Review how you have approached problems in the past. How did avoidance affect outcomes? Perhaps you didn’t want to address self-improvement. Perhaps you just didn’t trust yourself enough.
As you reflect on both your strengths and weaknesses, step out with new confidence. You can be honest without shaming yourself or beating yourself up.
A vision for your life
Remember as a kid, lying on your back in the grass dreaming of what you wanted to be when you grew up?
Everybody has dreams of what they think they might like to become or like to do when they grow up, but few take the time to follow through. Far too often, they remain daydreams or wishes because we don’t believe we can turn them into reality.
When my husband and I were designing our dream home, we spent hours poring over drawings, design layouts, window placement, size of rooms, one level or two, garage, space for workshop, office, etc. Because our lot had an expansive view, we wanted a design that took advantage of that view.
We considered each item on our list carefully. We discarded those that were impractical. We studied based on the lot, finances, time, and energy. We knew we could cut costs because we could do a lot of the work ourselves while hiring experts for the rest. And we were willing to make adjustments when necessary.
Landscape design to life design
When we actively get involved in designing what we really want and how we want to live, our energy can be used more efficiently. With time management, self-regulation and a vision, we can create a design that will give us both pleasure and time for work and play.
We can accomplish so much more than we ever imaged.
What do you want?
On a piece of paper, write down the hopes and dreams you have had or currently have. Be expansive.
- What is your passion?
- What gives you pleasure, joy, contentment, and satisfaction?
- What could you do all day without getting tired?
Then, expand on this theme a little further to include more personal aspects of life, such as:
- I want to be free from pain, resentment, and bitterness
- I want to experience happiness, joy, and hope
- I want to enjoy my work
- I want to feel good about myself
- I want to know I am doing something useful for others
- I want to feel proud of my accomplishments
Sometimes it helps to separate the different areas of our lives.
- How can we accomplish our tasks and still have time for fun and relaxation?
- How can we enjoy each day, whether at work or at play?
As you reflect on how you want to live, think also about your home. How can you make it more pleasing, where you enjoy spending time alone or with friends?
I’m not talking about having a fancy or expansive home. It can be an apartment or house or retirement center. You are making that space comfortable for you.
- What colors do you like?
- Are there favorite pictures you could hang or display?
- A small area can be turned into something inviting and comfortable by surrounding yourself with things you like and already have.
- Is there room in my budget to purchase a few things?
Make you own list of what is important to your living space by using the example below.
- I want a home where I can relax and find contentment with family or friends
- I want a place where I can see beauty in design, color, and texture
- I want to enjoy spending time there
- I want landscaping that reflects serenity and peace
- I want a place with minimal maintenance
- I want a place that is inviting, where I can invite friends over for coffee or conversation or get-togethers.
Are you ready to go for it?
It is one thing to put ideas down on paper. It is another to take that next step to begin achieving them.
But if you know what is truly important to you, and you are willing to use your time more effectively, budgeting both time and money, you can achieve more than you ever thought you could.
There is a difference between wants and needs.
We want many things; our needs are usually much simpler. While it is okay to want things, it is important to focus on our needs. Needs are what is required for survival, security, safety, and wellbeing.
Needs include a safe place to live, enough food to eat, the ability to get exercise and enjoy quiet time. It involves clothing and paying the bills and having time left over for reset and recreation. Yes, recreation is a need – without it we burn out.
We also have a need for love and respect, accepting both for ourselves and others.
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