Too often when we talk about organization, we jump right to cool label makers and nifty calendaring systems. However, our focus for today is the heart of all other organization. If we don’t get this topic down, our other attempts to organize life are limited and possibly even wasted.
Today we are going bigger than messy rooms and scattered schoolwork, much bigger.
We are exploring the purpose of your life.
When you get this figured out, you will be headed in the right direction to overcoming parenting overwhelm and living the life you choose.
Welcome to Organize Your Life Day 1: Organize Your Vision.
This is part of a mini-series on overcoming parenting (and life!) overwhelm and stress by organizing your life. Click here to see the introduction and links to other days.
Your Final Destination
When we were dating, my husband and I went to visit his childhood home. His old bedroom was still adorned with racecar wallpaper, pictures of friends, and, of course, Michael Jordan posters. Since we met in college, it was fun to me to sneak a peek back at the life he lived before. I caught a glimpse of what was important to him, and how he had become the man I was growing to love.
A handwritten sign was posted above the door. It read, “A foolish man chooses the path and accepts the destination. A wise man chooses the destination and accepts the path.”
How many high school boys have the foresight to recognize and value the wisdom in that quote? My husband did, and it helped him become the man, husband, and father he is now. Choosing our destination clarifies our path and ensures that at the end of the day, we end up where we really want to be.
Unfortunately, many of us either never clearly defined our chosen destination, or we lost sight of what we once wanted in the busy reality of being a parent. Parenting overwhelm has taken its toll. Maybe after yelling at the kids you find yourself in tears because you were always going to be a patient parent. Possibly, you are caught up in work or household chores more than you ever desired. Maybe you are simply so exhausted that you cannot do all the things you really want.
Parenting life can be crazy! We can get so overloaded going, going, going, and doing, doing, doing all that is required for daily life, that we don’t make time for being and becoming.
However, when we decide who we most want to be and what is most important at our personal core, and then purposefully align our time and efforts with that, we will find even the busy parenting days are more fulfilling. We will be on the right path for us, so our lives will be more joyful.
Our focus today is, “What destination do I choose?” Through the next two weeks, we will work out the path that leads to that destination. But without a destination in mind, the path doesn’t much matter.
The Important Questions
Pull out your journal, binder, or Organize Your Life Workbook. It’s time to start applying the concepts to you.
If you are working in a journal or binder, label one page: “Vision.”
Beneath that, write out the following question:
1.) Who do I want to become?
We are starting here because who you are is much more important than what you do. When you change who you are, what you do automatically follows.
Now, you brain dump. List all the adjectives that you would hope others would use to describe you. This will be extremely unique to each of us. Do not overthink or analyze at this point. Consider your talents and strengths and your weaknesses that you wish were strengths. Comment on your abilities as a parent, spouse, friend, creative, businessperson, and thinker. This list will most likely be long.
Do not worry about whether or not you actually are those things right now, you are focusing on what you want to be. Consider your desires honestly.
After exhausting all your thoughts, read over your list.
Now, imagine your funeral. I know, it might not be a cheery thought for some, but go there with me for a moment. Imagine your ideal funeral, if all goes as you hope in this life. Will this be a sad occasion or a celebration? Think of who will be there and how you hope they describe you. As those who know and love you best talk about you, what one word or phrase do you hope to hear over and over?
If that word or phrase is on your list, circle it.
Under your list of adjectives, write in big letters or with an asterisk, that word or phrase. Beneath that, choose two or three other words that help encompass what you hope to hear at your funeral.
That is what you want to become.
Now it is time to write and consider question number two:
2.) What do I want to do?
Again, make an exhaustive list of all the things you want to do someday before you die. This could be everything from “swim with dolphins” to “learn a foreign language” or “love everyone.” There are no timelines, limits, or reality needed here. 😉
Very often when we set goals or dream up dreams, we stick with the status quo. The same goals come up over and over again or we choose something because we know a lot of people are working on that. This is your time and space to imagine without boundaries.
The first time I remember doing this exercise, I used more than a page. Keep writing. Sometimes the best thoughts are stragglers.
When you do feel your list is complete (for now), consider your emotions as you wrote. Were there any particular ideas that got you really excited and smiling to yourself? Underline those.
Look for any patterns or themes that connect several items, such as travel, creativity, or family. Take note of those connecting ideas below your list.
Now, circle anything in question two that will help you become what you chose in question one.
Narrow your list to three to five things that feel most important for you to eventually do.
Organize Your Vision
Now that you have pondered and synthesized your strengths, desires, and passions, it is time to pull it all together into a Vision Statement.
This personal Vision Statement will define success for you individually. Many accomplished people in various walks of life have found that creating a personal Vision Statement (or Mission Statement) has helped and guided them through the difficulties of life. You can read some of their examples here.
Some people boil their Vision Statement down to one sentence. My personal Vision Statement consists of six bullet points and a scripture. There is no right or wrong format, not even better or best. The statement need only speak to you and encompass what you really want to do and become in your life.
Write a rough draft of your Vision Statement. Think, reword, and write a final draft.
The key is to make yourself actually write it down. Do not skip this step. Committing your random thoughts to a synthesized statement forces you to finish your thinking. You have to get to a concrete place you feel good about, rather than leaving half-thoughts floating.
Your distinctive Vision Statement will help you stay on your chosen path when things get chaotic. It will guide you, as you discern between ways to spend your time, energy, and money. Although different stages of life will necessitate different daily activities, your Vision Statement will provide the overarching compass that ensures that no matter which stage of life you are in, you are working to become the person you really want to be.
Your Statement is for Here and Now
Refer to your Vision Statement often to keep it fresh in your mind and help you manifest those desires in your daily life.
My one word is displayed in my bedroom, often reminding me of the person I want to become and guiding me in the small decisions throughout my day. If you want, you can create a visual, symbol, mantra, or framed copy to keep your statement at the forefront of your mind.
Overtime, revisit your Vision Statement. Have your desires changed? Have you discovered new passions or ways to share your talents? Periodically rework your Vision Statement or start from scratch. We are constantly changing and progressing, and our Vision Statements can reflect that growth.
The Last Step for Today
The last step for today is to jot down any take-aways, thoughts, or future action items that came to mind as you participated in Day 1.
I love the following quote attributed to Neal A. Maxwell:
“The prompting that goes unresponded to may not be repeated. Writing down what we have been prompted with is vital. A special thought can be lost later in the day through the rough and tumble of life.”
Richard G. Scott emphasized the importance of writing your thoughts as well:
“Powerful spiritual direction in your life can be overcome or forced into the background unless you provide a way to retain it…Knowledge carefully recorded is knowledge available in time of need.”
I encourage you to write down all the personal inspiration you receive, the little thoughts that come to mind, and the questions or feelings you encounter as you work through Organize Your Life and always.
I really hope Day 1 has been beneficial for you. The Vision you have for your life truly is the foundation of all that we will do over the next two weeks. I hope you are excited about the direction you want your life to go.
I am looking forward to Day 2 when we will Organize our Relationships…meet you there!
Do you have any questions about crafting your own Vision Statement? Do you have any experience using a personal Vision Statement? Please share in the comments.