The first thing you should do after reading the Agile and Lean life manifesto is set your life vision. All the masterpieces that have been created in the world began with a big vision, and so should your life. As the famous quote goes: the two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.
A strong life vision helps you clarify what you want out of life and helps you focus yourself. If you write down your life vision correctly, it should serve as a roadmap, helping you make your dreams and passions a reality. A life vision is your compass that helps you live life to the full.
The old way of setting a vision
Writing down a life vision is not all that new. It’s a very well-known concept in personal development. But unfortunately the way it’s usually done is outdated. The big problem of “the old way” of setting a vision lies in the linear approach. When doing it the “old way”, you should answer questions such as where do you see yourself in five, ten or thirty years. By answering these questions and thinking about the future, you project partly your own goals and wishes and partly the society’s expectations (when to get married, when to retire…).
For example, when you are in your twenties and setting a life vision, you assume that in ten years, you should have a home, kids, a well-paid job, and so on. Those are the expectations of the society and you add details and specifics according to your desires and personal preferences. For example, you could write down that in ten years, you will live in New York, have a big house, two kids and a managerial position in finance industry.
The problem here is very obvious. Today no plan survives contact with reality. Not that long ago, life was quite linear, so linear planning of a life vision made sense. Today, the environment is too fast changing, complex and turbulent to make linear life visions. It’s impossible to predict what kind of a job you will have in ten years, what will happen to financial markets and your net worth, whether you will get or stay married, and how many countries you will visit.
What can happen is that a few years after writing down your linear life vision, you can clearly see that you are not moving towards that life vision and become depressed or disappointed. It is very naïve to expect that you can just write down what you want out of life in a linear way and it will happen/and this will make it happen. Even if you do have a sound strategy and fight for it.
But there is another way. A way where you don’t regard your life as a linear story that should unfold, but as a list of things you want to experience.
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Your Agile and Lean Life vision
First things first. You should definitely have your life vision written down on paper. If you don’t have your own life vision, you won’t be motivated enough, you won’t be focused enough and there will be too many directions to move in to make any sound decisions for moving toward your real goals.
Your life vision is the hope for what your life could be and something you can share with people you deeply care about, want to spend time with and who support you and empower you. The vision is your true north, a final destination to keep in mind.
Your vision should be huge and exciting and breathtaking. Your vision should be your biggest inspiration in life. It’s what makes you ready for a new adventure every morning.
To define your life vision, you should answer three simple questions:
- Who do you want to become (your personal evolution)? … and make your ideal-self persona.
- What do you want to experience in life (and how to enjoy it)? … and make a list of it.
- What kind of a legacy do you want to leave (what will you create)? … and write down a strong emotional statement.
Who do you want to become?
Your actual self is who you are at the moment. It represents the attributes you currently possess. The ideal self is the person you want to become. The ideal self is what motivates you to change, improve and achieve. When writing down your life vision, you should definitely include who you want to become as a person. It’s about your personal evolution and about how would you like to be remembered.
We all have strengths we want to keep, assets we want to develop, and weaknesses we want to get rid of. The best tool for creating your ideal self is to make a persona. Here is the Agile and Lean Life guide on making personas.
When making a persona you should look at the following elements and decide which one you want to keep, which one to strengthen, which one to develop and which one to get rid of.
- Behavioral patterns
You develop and change yourself with identity shifts, life experiences, finding new better ways of doing things, epiphanies and many other ways. When thinking about who you want to become, you should also think about the situations in life that can shape you in that kind of way. Even if some of the experiences have to be tough. In fact, we usually develop the most through tough experiences.
What do you want to experience in life?
There are three main purposes in life. One is to evolve (grow, improve, learn…), the second is to experience as much as possible, meaning enjoying life, and the third is to create and leave a legacy. This part of setting the life vision is the really exciting and fun part. You should simply sit down and make a list of everything you want to experience in life. There are seven life areas you should start with and brainstorm further on.
- Body (diet, sports, sex, food, massages…)
- Relationships, emotions and romance
- Money and wealth
- Career, achievements and respect
- Fun, creativity and travel
The list of what you want to experience should be long and thorough (your bucket list). You can browse the internet, magazines, listen to your inner voice and so on.
The countries you want to travel. The food you want to taste. The things you want to buy or rent. The things you want to experience with your spouse and other people. The things you want to create. The crazy achievements you want to accomplish, like dancing in the rain. The jobs and occupations you want to try. The sports you want to enjoy. All the types of chocolate you want to taste. The mindsets you want to live by.
When writing down the things you want to experience, you should think about all those things you know you want to experience, or already like and want to experience more of, and those things that you think you want to experience. Remember that wrong assumptions are the mother of all fuckups, thus you have to know which parts of your life vision are only assumptions. For all the assumptions, you should first do small experiments to get better insights on what you really want.
Testing and experimenting in life
Testing and experimenting allow you to test each element of your vision and what you truly desire from life. Testing and experimenting help you discover and clarify your real vision and separate vision from illusion. Testing and experimenting also help you discover, clarify and expand your vision. You should constantly test new things, question everything and be encouraged to be curious and experience life to the full.
Let me give you an example. Maybe you assume that you would be much more successful having your own business than being employed. You assume that being a business owner is something you want. But you’ve never been a business owner. Before making any big life decisions and opening your own business, it makes sense to carry out a small independent project for one of your hobbies in addition to having a daily job. In doing that, you can test yourself on how well you perform in inspiring people, managing teams, innovating, administrating and selling. If you see that you don’t like all that, maybe having a business is not something for you. While doing it, you can find out that you can work great as a multi-level marketer or whatever.
Here is another case. I personally assume that I don’t like all the adrenalin stuff, like roller coasters etc. Maybe it’s only fear or maybe I really don’t like it for whatever reason. Nevertheless I don’t want to not do things just because of fear. Instead of going straight to bungee jumping and potentially dying from a heart attack, I can start with a slide for kids and then try experiences with more adrenalin rush. In the process, I may start loving it or maybe I’ll find out that those kinds of things are really not for me.
Make environment and global flow your friends
The final question is how to build a life around the vision you have, juggling all the areas of life. I think that the best answer to that question is adapting to changes that happen in the environment and to exploit the opportunities that come into your life. Thus you align your life vision with the flow around you. It’s not always possible, but it’s a big accelerator of experiencing things in life.
For example: in my career, I want to experience and try many different occupations. I have all of them written down on my life vision list. I can always choose the one that has the most potential in a certain period of time. Sometimes the opportunities come by themselves, sometimes you have to make them with your own effort. But the key point is that you have a list you can choose from. Just the right amount of options that you are not lost, but are at the same time still aware of your personal freedom (options to choose from).
For bigger experiences that you want out of life, you have to break your vision down into small parts. The small parts are like smaller visions you want to experience.
And for some experiences, you have external limitations like your age, biological clock etc. For these kinds of experiences, you probably need some timeframes and perspectives on when is the latest that you can experience them, and make sure you shift your priorities if the deadline is fast approaching.
Last but not least, I probably don’t have to emphasize that each and every part of your life vision should benefit others, not do any harm to them.
What kind of a legacy do you want to leave?
Life isn’t easy. But we can make it easier and more comfortable for the generations to come. Like the past generations did it for us (most of the time). Your greatest inspiration in life and a very important part of your life vision should be your plan for making the world a better place. You can do this by either investing your money, your time or both. The best way to do it is with your will to create.
There are so many things you can do and contribute to help make the world a better place to live. Pick one and make it the strong emotional part of your life vision. You have to be aware of your personal power to positively change the world, and make use of it.
You can choose difficult problems like: Domestic violence. Drugs. Human trafficking. Poverty. Depression. Bullying. Armed conflicts. Diseases. Climate change. Etc. Or you can tackle smaller, but no less important, problems like: Unhealthy diets. Information overflow. Materialism. And so on.
The strong positive emotional situations you will experience with other people and the legacy you will leave for the generations to come are the most valuable parts of your life. These are the things you’ll remember with pride and joy on your death bed. There are the things that will make your life count. These are the things that will make your life worth living. Fight for something good. Change the world. Create. Innovate. You have the power to do it.
The agile, not linear way
The most important fact you have to be aware of when setting your life vision is that your life vision is not a linear plan or path. It’s a list of who you want to become (personal evolution), what legacy do you want to leave (creating a better place to live) and what you want to experience in life (how will you enjoy it).
Everything when the right time comes; regardless of the expectations of the society; regardless of your own expectations towards life, how it should be. Expectations lead to disappointments. Experiences lead to a full life. But know that experiences are not only the easy and fun parts of life.
Your life vision is a list that should constantly throw you out of your comfort zone and routine, and remind you of what else you want to experience in life. The list is your reminder to not waste your life and to live it to the full.
You should regularly update your list and happily tick things off when the environment enables you to improve yourself, create or experience something new. Well, your environment or your personal will, or both.
You should put no pressure on yourself about how your life should look in ten or twenty years. You should have a smart list of what you want to experience in life, and fight to experience as many things as possible that are on your list. Again, when the right time comes, since nobody knows when that is. The most important thing is that you are ticking things off the list. Except for the time-sensitive things where you have to make more effort, maybe even against the external forces.
The vision is as important as the drive to achieve it
There is one important word I’ve used in the previous paragraph. All this is about a smart list. That is the really important part of it, one not to be missed.
You don’t win or achieve your goals only because of the life vision, but also because of the superior strategy. Thus, the first step is setting a life vision, but what happens next is even more critical. You also need a superior strategy for achieving your vision.
How the Agile and Lean Life superior strategy looks like:
- You sit down once a month and look at your Life Vision list.
- Who do you want to become?
- What do you want to experience?
- What do you want to create and the legacy you want to leave?
Download a template to help yourself with the exercise. You will also find an example of a life vision below.
- You make a reflection on what have you experienced, how you have changed and how you are moving towards your ideal self.
- You should look at all the things you want to experience and, based on the analysis of your environment and your life situation, pick the things that make the most sense to experience in the next time frame.
- You can simply plan smaller and more pleasurable things in your calendar. These are the fun things you want to experience in life.
- For bigger experiences, you should devise small steps for how you will achieve them and how you will make adjustments based on the feedback from the environment. This part of your life vision should be broken down into small steps and defined by experiments that show you the way to go further.
- You should move the experiences for which the time pressure is increasing higher up on your list of priorities. You still have to consider all the settings and how favorable they are to help you positively experience a certain thing.
- You should keep updating (adding and removing) the list with all the things you want to experience.
You can find more inspiration on how to do it in the Agile and Lean Life manifesto.