“I say to you today, my friends so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.”
– Martin Luther King Jr., 1963
Martin Luther King made this speech at a time when signs that said “no negros” were common, a time when black people did not even have the right to vote. His dream made big changes in our society.
Though we still have a distance to travel on that front, what I am interested in pointing out here is the importance of stating a dream – creating a vision, making it part of your daily agenda and using it to motivate you in the tough times.
Declare what is Important in your Life
Your vision declares what is important and valuable in your life. It is not a written statement but rather a virtual painting, a visceral yearning, a spirit’s musing, a promise of a new quality life. Your vision is alluring, intoxicating and a motivating force that draws your authentic self into plain view.
Fredrick Hudson said, “To think it is to go for it.” What an amazing thing this “vision”! Do you have yours? Do you want to get one?
It sounds grand and at the same time a little overwhelming. As a therapist, I often see people who are unwilling to create a vision for their future. When I ask people: What do you want in life? What is the dream you would like to live? Most think about it for about 5 seconds. It stumps them, their shoulders drop and they say “I don’t know”.
Here’s what I know. We all have preferences in life– things we like to do, things we hate to do, things we are inherently good at, things that require loads of work with mediocre results, things we explore out of interest, ideas we are passionate about, places, activities and topics that make our hearts soar. You have these preferences. Why not live by them?
If you are willing to take the time to think about it – not five seconds but perhaps five days or months – you will uncover a vision that truly speaks to you.
Your vision of course, will be unique. Perhaps it is a person to become or a landscape to develop, maybe not a character but activities, a single entity or a multitude of symbols–different, as you are from me. It will help you to see more clearly the path ahead of you.
Believing that you have control over your life leads to greater rewards.
In 1966 Rotter developed social learning theory which states that we learn on the basis of reinforcement. Within social learning theory, he determined that individuals with an internal locus of control (belief that they can control what happens in their life) are positively reinforced through learning.
The belief that you can control what happens in your life causes you to take steps which lead to learning. The learning motivates you and the motivation leads to positive life experiences.
Individuals with an external locus of control (belief that they cannot influence their destiny) are also reinforced in their belief. However, their reinforcement is non-motivating and is more likely to result in negative life experience.
Since 1966 lots of research has been done that supports the notion that internal locus of control contributes to learning, is reinforced by learning and leads to more positive experiences.
How to Create Your Vision
Developing a vision begins with the decision to build or enhance an internal locus of control. It is a choice. Developing a vision does not always happen quickly but it is an important ingredient in your quality of life.
Your vision will be a work in progress. You will revise it over time depending on your life conditions and abilities. Think about it. If you are not willing to delineate exactly what you want in life then do you have a right to be upset if you’re not getting it?
Once you have made the choice to influence what happens in your life, you can start developing your vision. Take the time to go to some favorite place of yours and allow yourself to develop a vision(daydream).
Developing a vision requires thinking in detail about what you want. What would be the perfect job for you? What are the details of what you would do each day–at work, at home, with friends and family, in your leisure? What would be your gift to the world? What skills and abilities would you use? How would you have fun developing new skills and abilities? What would people love about you? What would you love about your life?
Let your vision touch everything you want transformed. Keep planning until you come to the place where the same vision keeps repeating itself. When you’ve reached the place where you are telling the same story with small variations on the theme, you can begin to work with your vision.
There are two critical steps in making your vision work for you. First, never stop developing your vision. If there is a detour en route, let your vision tell you how to find your way back to it–be creative. Allow your vision to guide you in planning and taking control of your life. With any luck, the day that you fulfill your vision – stop learning, stop developing – will be the day you die.
Secondly, you must move on from the vision and take action in your life. Let your vision give you ideas about your next steps in life. Making and acting upon concrete plans allows you to stretch and grow – and growth is what life is about. Dream big, plan well, start now!
Needhelp? Contact Heidi.