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Day 18: Using Mindfulness to develop your life vision and mission

After yesterday’s activity, today we use blue sky thinking to create a vision and mission statement for yourself. Today has two activities to create the vision and mission: one “rational” one, one based on meditation. Depending on what type of person you are and if you are more emotional or thought driven, you can do either of them first. If you consider yourself more thought-driven and rational, then start with the first exercise. If you are more emotional, or indeed find the thought of rationally developing in a vision for yourself too challenging, you may find it easier to start with the meditation.

The min aim for today is to write two little sentences about you: a mission and a vision. Both should express similar aims, but are different. Let me quickly explain the difference: your mission is the ultimate end-state you would like to achieve. For example “urbangay’s mission is to enrich gay men’s lives through mindfulness” – ok, this may sound a bit lofty, but it captures the main aim.  The vision statement focuses more explicitly on how you are trying to achieve this lofty aim expressed in the mission. For example:
urbangay’s vision is to be the go-to resource to create powerful, personal change through mindfulness for gay men.
urbangay wants to build a safe space where gay men can learn about, develop, apply and put into practice mindfulness-based techniques for personal development in all aspects of their daily lives.
urbangay does this by educating, coaching and creating a community of connected individuals who learn and support each other in the process.

Some people find this activity challenging, as they relate often to very lofty visions – or try emulate too much a long-term business vision/mission. Remember, when you are completing this activity, that you are not fixed, and far more flexible than a large corporation.
On the other hand, don’t dismiss this activity as simply something big companies do: rather look at it as a tool that is used to (often) successfully focus large and complex organisations. So why not use it on you?
Importantly, don’t aim to create a very aspirational vision just because you think you have to. Your happiness is what counts, and you should think entirely what is right for you. There is no right or wrong vision: a vision of yourself living in a mountain retreat is just as valid as trying to make the world a better place. What’s right for you, is right for you. Nobody else can tell you that.

The first part I now describe is the rational activity to create the vision and mission.

Firstly, glance at the wall and lists created yesterday. Identify core values that drive your activities. These could be anything from charitable activities to a happier life through learning all there is to know about healthy vegan living. Basically, aim to take a helicopter perspective of the helicopter perspective from yesterday.
Aim to write a list of core values that guide your activities: these are the main emotional drivers. Simply put, the basic question you’re trying to answer is: “in an ideal world, what would make you jump out of bed full of energy every morning”.

In the second activity, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fS_Yb0PtpKQ . Use the guided meditation as a way to refine the ideas you generated in the first activity (careful, set an alarm at the end of the meditation, as it is a sleep meditation!). If you start with this activity, then mediate first, and use the first activity to refine your list.

In the next step, combine the list of values to a coherent vision: a few examples would be

The final step for today is to write a mission statement, e.g. how are you aiming to get there. Examples of this are

I hope these two exercises have been useful to you. I know they can be challenging for many people: taking a step back and looking at your life is never particularly easy. This is probably especially true when you feel actually relatively content with your life. In this case, it might be that these activities have clearly reinforced the life trajectory and the life plans you are on at the moment, which is brilliant news.
They may have, similarly, brought up a limited or a large number of areas where your future life needs a change of direction. In either case, you should have a pretty much clearer life vision now.

Again, try to keep the vision and mission statement clearly visible somewhere to remind you daily what it is that you wish to achieve. It can be particularly useful to keep it with the SWIPES lists, as you can then keep checking which activities should be prioritised from the nourishing activities contained in the lists. Of course, the vision/mission can also be a helpful reminder and source of motivation for completing depleting activities and recognising the greater purpose of these.

If you found these exercises helpful, or challenging, why don’t you share your thoughts below? It would be great to hear from you!