Imagine the life you dream about – where are you, what are you doing, how do you feel? To make your dream a reality, you need to visualize it first, and then use goals to make it happen.
There is no shortage of things to do in our busy lives, but if you have aspirations beyond your current day-to-day life, you need to stop, take a breath, and spend some time cultivating your dreams. Visualize a future where you are living your true purpose – what you are meant to do with your life. Dream big, let your imagination soar without limits and jot down what comes to mind when you ask yourself these key questions:
- What are my core values?
- What do I most enjoy doing?
- What are my natural talents – things that I am best at?
- What three or four things are most important to me?
- What have been the happiest moments in my life and why?
- What activities are most worthwhile in my work life? My personal life?
- If I had unlimited time and resources, how would I spend my time?
- What are the most important goals I would like to accomplish?
- What do I want to be and do in my life?
As you formulate a vision prompted by these questions, try to get a clear picture of what your future might look like. If you can imagine and describe something in detail, you can more easily envision how it can be accomplished and the intermediate steps needed to bring it to life.
Goal setting is the documentation of your desires. Once you’ve outlined your vision, break out the specific changes or actions needed to attain it from where you are today. Your goals should specify the action steps and timing required to achieve your vision and track your success. Big goals, like earning a degree or making a major life change, will have many incremental steps – focus on baby steps. Writing down your goals and reading them daily helps you stay focused and prioritize your activities so you can celebrate progress along the way. And sharing them with others can help you be accountable for progress.
There are many types of goals to fit different timeframes, categories and needs. Try focusing in the following key areas to support your total self:
- Work and Career – Work/career choices that can enrich your life.
What would you most enjoy doing with your talents? What would your dream job look like and feel like? How is this different from your current work? How can this career help you meet your financial goals? What changes or development do you need to achieve this career goal?
- Lifestyle – Your day-to-day activity inside and outside of your home.
What do you want to do to ensure your health and well-being? In what ways would you want to improve your home life or environment? What types of activities do you want to try? Is there a charitable organization or volunteer opportunity you’d like to pursue?
- Relationships – How you engage with the people who are important to you.
Are you happy with your relationships? What areas need improvement or attention? With whom would you like to spend more quality time? What could you do to help others feel more valued and appreciated? If you are a parent, what could you do to better guide your children?
- Creative Self-Expression – How your talents and insights come to life.
What would you like to learn or practice? Do you have interest in music, art or other creative pursuits? Have you considered writing a journal or a blog? Whom do you know that would enjoy learning something new with you? How would expanding your creative horizons affect your budget? What is keeping you from spending time in this area?
- Travel and Leisure – The fun and adventure in your life.
What are the places you’d like to see and things you’d like to do? What do you find fun and interesting? Which possibilities have you thought about exploring but haven’t? What could you do to take advantage of opportunities in your local area or region in the near future? What “big trip” or adventure do you dream about that you’d plan if there were no time or cost constraints?
- Personal Development and Education – Learning and personal growth.
What would you like to learn for your personal or career advancement? In what areas do you want to improve your capabilities or knowledge? Have you thought about taking a class, getting a degree or attending a conference for an organization you belong to? Do you have friends who might enjoy pursuing a development opportunity with you?
Taking time to visualize your future and set goals is your first step in creating the life you aspire to. Contact a financial representative for the next step, creating a financial plan that addresses your specific needs and creates a roadmap to fund your goals and dreams.