Living More AuthenticallyRealizing a Vision

What To Do When Your Vision Is Vague

By May 25, 2011 10 Comments

Today I wanted to share a post in “Q & A” format. Below is a note I received from a reader, Kim, along with my response. I’ve been in the same challenging spot that Kim was in when she wrote this, and I know many of you will be able to relate too. I gave my honest response – what has worked for me and what I see working effectively in the lives of the people I work with. Here’s our exchange…
From Kim:

I am from the Bay Area, and currently reside in San Francisco. I love the culture, accessibility and convenience of living in a city, but I long for quiet, open space, and a small-town community feel.
I recognize that a “geographic” answer is not a cure because “wherever we go, there we are.” But, I truly feel called to create a home for myself close to the water, with a garden, warm weather, and open space close by. In addition, I’m longing to connect with others who share an appreciation, joy, and preference for this lifestyle.
In terms of my work, I am feeling called by sales. I have a background working for a large tech company, and have always assumed sales was “not for me”, or “I’m not that kind of person” but I now feel drawn to the relational aspect of sales, and the responsibility of creating/generating revenue.
There’s one place I feel drawn to as an option to relocate, but I don’t know where to start given my calling feels abstract at best. Including people in this process is very important to me — for the accountability and the support — but, I’m afraid to talk to people outside of my immediate circle because my vision — living in a light-filled bungalow close to the beach, with the opportunity to bike to work and share life with like-minded people and to do work that taps into my passion for a product or service and being responsible for driving a business — feels ambiguous.
As I’ve been journaling, I’ve gotten stuck around what to do next with these feelings. Any advice or insights you could offer would be much appreciated.

From me:
Kim, here’s what I would say:
1. Remember you don’t have to figure it all out. You are not solely responsible for making your vision happen. So you can breathe a big sigh of relief. You are a co-creator in this.
There truly is something that happens when we set and intention / wish and put it out there – the world shows up to meet us in the process. Your role is being open to and welcoming of the vision that has arisen in your heart, keeping that vision alive in your heart, doing footwork (taking some reasonable action steps), and staying alert and awake to the feedback the world is giving you – information, opportunities, collaborators, etc. about next steps. Your work is also seeing your own limiting beliefs or fears that get in the way of your taking the opportunities the world is offering, and dealing with those beliefs/fears. But you do not have to “make” it happen, or figure out how it will all happen. You can move this forward from a posture of surrender, not knowing, and even overwhelm! Does that make sense?
2. Given that, here are some “next step” things for you to do:
Strengthen the vision of what you want for your next chapter by journaling about it, writing a “vision list” of the different components, making a collage about it, picturing it, etc. – any of those forms will work.
Treat it with a lot of love and kindness and care. Write your vision in the present tense, “I live in a beautiful home by the water and enjoy my garden everyday.” Put it somewhere where you see it regularly.
Brainstorm the resources you have available to help you do this. The resources could be anything from a friend that lives in the area, to craigslist listings of places in the area, to tools to deal with the fear. I like to start any project by brainstorming about available resources – so you can build on what you have available to you. Usually, we start from making a list of what we need to get from a to b, but why not start by thinking about what you have – and how you can use it?
Set an intention to be open to what the world brings you to help you actualize your vision. Surrender control to a power greater than you. That can be a divine power, or just the power of Life/Goodness/Creation.
See where you intuition would lead you in terms of action steps to take. Do some footwork action, see what comes of it.
Last but not least, realize your vision isn’t vague at all. I often hear clients or people in my classes saying their vision is very ambiguous – but then what comes out of their mouths sounds crystal clear! Most of us are scarred from career counselors or others telling us we had to figure out exactly what job title we wanted in order to go get a job. That if we couldn’t look a list of jobs and pick the role we wanted, then we didn’t have career direction. That’s just not true!
Crystal clear heart vision, soul vision, doesn’t usually show up with a particular industry and job function attached to it. A vision that comes from those deeper places in us will usually focus on the kind of life we are living, the kind of work we are doing at a very basic level, and the quality of energy that we walk through our lives with. You’ve articulated a very clear vision – in all of those senses.

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • so appreciated this post today and so appreciate your wisdom every day!

  • Amanda says:

    Kim – for what it’s worth, I share your same dream of living in a bungalow by the sea 🙂 I have no idea how to get there, either… but the dream persists…

  • jennie says:

    When I was a little girl, my parents arrived at church (early as usual due to being on staff), and I went and quietly sat in the back of the empty auditorium and began to write — my favorite pastime then, and now. The young man, just a year or two older than me didn’t see me, but went on stage and began playing the piano, beautifully. That was the first time I really heard music and it touched my soul. At that moment, I knew my soul mate would play the piano and have a heart for music. I never told anyone, it was a silly little girl’s dream.
    Also during that time in my life, I needed protection, to feel safe from my environment — and when I pictured true safety, it was in the arms of someone who could envelop me, rest his chin on the top of my head, and shroud me from the outside world. Another secret I tucked away. Details began forming; I kept them written, hidden, safe. From the style of vehicle he would drive (big, safe and sensible not sporty/extravagant) to the kind of mindset, spirituality, views on marriage, children, morals, character and even the love language he would have, the list created quite the man. I made a lot of bad choices along the way and settled here and there — some decisions made out of a felt necessity and protection, others because I was impatient and paid for it in the end. But finally, at age 34, there he was. And I ran from him. I was scared. As I aged and became singularly confident and embraced the fact that I didn’t need anyone, I made myself believe the list was still just a silly little girl’s dream, yet now he was more than just words on a page. Every detail, there, in one package. It took him three years to convince me to agree to marry him, and for me to trust enough in God and the universe to realize it was true — but he stuck by me, allowing me to come to trust him in my own time, in my own way. I’m so thankful I listened to that still small voice that began directing my vision at such a young age. We’re now going on our 4th year of marriage, and have a beautiful 2 year old little girl.
    Now, the same type of visions that have been forming in my head for what I’m supposed to do with my life are coming together and it scares me to death. That inner critic is hitting me at every turn. Just more of a silly little girl’s dream. But in allowing myself to believe just a little bit, I was led to this Wise Living website and blog, the Goals Guide, your confirming, prodding, encouraging, challenging voice that says to dream it, accept it, and let it come. I’m still so scared: of trying, of not succeeding, of being wrong, of wasting my time, the list goes on. But the vision appears stronger, if only a little, than the Resistance. Although the details are not clear, the direction is set. This post helps so much in first, confirming that it’s ok to believe in those visions and that guiding voice, and second, giving me that guidance I need to proceed. Thank you.

  • I love almost everything you say here, Tara, and if Kim were my client I would work with her to explore her vision in much the same way.

    But, I’m sad that you said “most of us are scarred from career counselors…” I have a graduate degree in counseling with a concentration in career/life transition, and I’ve been working as a holistic career counselor for more than 10 years. After years of engaging with my peers in the profession, I can assure you that most career counselors are well-educated and well-trained, and abide by a code of ethics to do no harm, just like any other counselor. They really don’t tell clients they have to be able to pick a job off a list. And of course, you could just as easily say that people are scarred by life coaches who insist that they know all the parts of their SMART goal before moving forward.

    The irony of all this is that many clients seeking career counseling OR life coaching come to the process hoping and wanting to be told what the perfect job or perfect life is for them. Let’s face it, people do want magic. I’m sure you’ve encountered that. So I tell my clients that my job isn’t to wave my magic wand, but rather to help them discover the magic that is alive within them.

  • Dear Tara,
    This is a great post with very good advice. Yes, Kim, just make a start and you’ll be amazed at how quickly the universe will respond. When I decided to leave art school and find a studio the first person I casually mentioned my thoughts to said, “Gee, I have a friend with a studio who’s looking for someone to share–here’s her number!” I lucked into a large sunlit room close to my children’s school and I’ve been there ever since–coming up on my twentieth anniversary. It’s so true–you don’t have to do it alone.
    Tara, thanks for reminding me.

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