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Life: Choose Your Own Adventure

Life: Choose Your Own Adventure

Do you ever feel like you’re taking life too seriously?

Every decision feels like it’s life or death. The smallest hiccups feel like the end of the world. You worry about unanswered questions. You’re so caught up in finding your passion and living your dream that daily life is a worrisome struggle.

Yep, I’ve been there. I’ve also found a fun way to lighten things up.

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Remember those old choose-your-own-adventure books? “X” would happen, and at the end of the passage, you’d have to decide what to do. If you pick “Y”, go to page 5; for “Z”, go to page 14.

What if you saw life as a “choose your own adventure” book?

You would:

  • Step away from the seriousness. When you frame life as an adventure book, it looks a little less intense. It takes some of the pressure off and allows you to lighten up – it’s an adventure, after all!
  • Gain perspective and clarity. When you’re in the midst of decision-making, it’s easy to lose perspective and clarity. This method helps you find it again. It gives you a bit of distance – just enough to make things a little less fear-driven and a lot clearer. It allows you to take a good look and ask yourself: What could happen if I did X? Y? Often, it’s a choice between action and no action. What could happen if I took that art class? What if I didn’t? Fear-based responses can keep you stuck: “I might hate it. The other students might be mean. Maybe it’s not my thing.” But with a little perspective, you’re better able to see the bright side: “I could discover a new passion. It might be fun. I could make new friends.”
  • Relax into uncertainty. Decision making sucks largely because you don’t know what’s going to happen. And as humans, we hate that. But with a choose-your-own adventure book, the unknown future doesn’t keep you from turning the page. If anything, you decide and move forward faster because you want to see what happens next. Let this be your life. Relax into the not-knowing and make decisions based on what feels right to you now, not fear of the unknown.
  • Let go of the idea of “right decisions.” Some decisions are better for you, certainly: those that are aligned with your values and authentic self. But even if you make a decision that’s not the best, is it wrong? I don’t think there are “right” and “wrong” decisions. Yes, some are better, but they’re all on your path. Because by making that decision, you’re choosing to make it part of your experience. You can still learn and grow. So let go of fear of making the “right” decision. Anything you choose is on your path.
  • Have more fun. Often, we see our lives as serious, scary tests. Only #2 pencils, desks cleared and no looking around the room. That’s why framing life as a choose-your-own adventure book works so well. Because just by having the word “adventure” in there, it’s gearing you up for more boldness and fun. So next time you face a decision, ask yourself: This is my adventure. What do I choose?

I know, life is a bit more complicated than a book. If you make a choice you’re not happy with, you can’t go back and choose again. But you can do the next best thing and choose differently at the next junction (which can be as soon as the next moment, if you decide).

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Recently, I was on page 24 and faced with a choice: Take a ballet class, which I’ve been wanting to do since I was a kid (turn to page 48); or stay comfortable within my limits (page 31).

Briefly, those limiting beliefs fluttered through my mind: “Will this be a waste of money? What if I hate it?”

But I chose the “lighten up” mentality, shook off the doubts and turned to page 48.

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I’m a couple of classes in, and so far my fears have gone unanswered. The class is a blast, I don’t miss the money and I’ve reaffirmed my decision to relax and let more fun into my life.

Is there an adventure you’ve been putting off? A choice you’ve been afraid to make?

What’s the worst-case-scenario here? Maybe you’ll hate what happens and regret your choice. Totally valid option.

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But what’s the alternative? Staying stuck on page 1, frozen with fear? And who knows – maybe you’ll love what you find on the next page. You won’t know until you turn.

It’s your adventure. What do you choose?

Featured photo credit:  Cyclist on the top of a hill via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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