Creating a Clear, Unique and Powerful Vision for Your Life
Dr. Bradford Cooper
Download our 2021 Vision – Theme Development Reference Sheet and get started on your ideal vision for 2021!
All Dr. Cooper:
Welcome to the latest episode of the Catalyst Health, Wellness, and Performance Coaching podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Bradford Cooper of the Catalyst Coaching Institute. And today we’re going to do things a little differently. Today is all about creating a clear personal vision for our lives. This is not about goals to pursue. It’s not about new year’s resolutions. It’s about creating a personal vision of the person, the who, we are becoming. A Northern star we can use to truly be a catalyst in the coming year. If you’re looking for a process to give you that spark, that turbo boost, or maybe just a chance to hit the reset button, then you’re in the right place. Now, before we jump in, we’ve got some really exciting news. If you’ve been part of the catalyst community for long, you’re very familiar with our mission to be a catalyst. If you’re new to the community, here’s the quick version, a catalyst is something used in the lab to move a chemical reaction forward in a positive direction. However, in doing so this is the interesting part, the catalyst isn’t used up or depleted that’s us, that’s you. We’re looking to have a positive impact on the world, around us, without burning ourselves out in the process. A few weeks ago, we partnered with an organization that produces t-shirts stickers, hoodies, and a whole bunch of other really cool stuff with an awesome logo announcing to the world, our desire, your desire to be a catalyst. Now, folks, this is part of our mission, not a new revenue stream. So 100% of the profits for the foreseeable future are going to charity on any of these things that you buy. The link is provided in the description to this podcast. So if you’d like to join our mission, if you’d like to go beyond the ideas like life is good, or keep calm and carry on, and instead be a catalyst, this gives you a good option to do so. As always feel free to reach out to us directly [email protected]. If you have any questions or you want to walk through the details of NBHWC approved coach certification. Now let’s talk through the process of how you can create a clear personal vision for your life on this episode of the Catalyst Health, Wellness, and Performance Coaching podcast.
All right, so let’s jump into this. Now there’s a handout that goes with this. If that’s helpful to you, you can pull it up on the website. We’ll have a link to that. But the idea here is to start with the who, moving beyond or taking a step back from the what for a moment. I think that’s the mistake that most of us make. We, we set these goals. We set these targets, but we set them in a vacuum. We put them out there and we’re like, I’m going to do this. I’m going to lose this much weight. I’m going to do this much exercise. I’m going to take on this new career. I’m going to whatever, but we do that too early. Those are good. I like goals. There is value to goals, but until we decide who it is, until we create that clear vision of the person we’re becoming, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We’re doing the what before the who. Simon Sinek talks about start with why I love his book. I love, Simon does some great, great work, but I, I think he’s one step off. I think we need to start with the who and that will drive the why. And eventually the what. So let’s walk through this. Now it’s a, it’s a three-step process, reflect, collect and connect. So I’ll be talking through a couple of examples from my own life. And we’ll include some links to this, to see some of the examples as well. If that’s helpful, if you just want to get some ideas. Now, keep in mind. My vision has nothing to do with your vision. You don’t look at mine and go, Oh, okay. That’s the model. That’s not the model. That’s, that’s just me. That’s just what I’m pursuing. So if you do pull that link up and you’re like, Oh, let me see what Brad’s doing this year. What, what last year’s thing looks like. Great. If that’s a way to spur your own ideas, but, but the goal is not to say, Oh, Brad does it this way. You know, this is, this is a good picture. I’m going to take that now. I hope it sparks something, but you’re unique. We’re all made differently or made uniquely and my vision has nothing to do with your vision. Let me just, the concept may be helpful. So let let’s do this. Let’s start with this first step of reflect. Now this is looking back over and by the way, folks, this is not something you do in 10 minutes. Okay, done reflecting. Ooh, good to go. No I would really encourage you to pull out that journal to at least grab a notepad. You know, something that you can ponder with, maybe go for a walk, go for a hike, get away for the weekend. This is a very powerful process, but you get out of it what you put into it. I generally start working on my vision for the following year in late November, early December. Thanksgiving is kind of a cue of, Oh yes. It’s time to start thinking about the following year. And I’ll spend two, three weeks working on kind of the rough version that we’ll talk about. And then maybe by late December, I feel like it’s just about ready to roll. So again, this is not a 10 minute process. It’s not an hour long process. The more you put in, the more you get out of it.
So back to the first step reflect, look back on the last 12 months, what have been those things that have brought joy. What have been the struggles? If you’re listening to this on the release date, the world has had so many struggles this last year. How has that influenced you? What are some of the holes that you, that you know in your life as you look at it and you say, you know, there’s this big gap over there. If you did a theme last year, we try to encourage this once a year. And if you did this last year, it’s a great time to pull out last year and take a look at it and see how it applies. I’ve got sitting here next to me my last, what? Seven, six years of of themes. I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years now, folks, it’s, it’s really cool to look back and say, Oh yeah, yeah. I remember 2016. So for example, 2016 is the year I turned 50 years old and it’s a, it’s a package. Are you going to open the gift? That was my vision for that year. How can I open the gift? I’ve been given this gift. Am I going to open it? That became a driving force for me. So it’s fun to look back on the previous years. And that’s a great thing to do during this reflection phase. If you did this last year, pull that vision out, don’t pull it out hesitantly. Don’t pull it out like I don’t think I did so good this year. Folks, none of us nailed this thing. We’re all a work in progress. I had plenty of downfalls this last year. I had plenty of times where I fell short time after time. You’re not alone. That’s what we’re all doing. That’s called life. And that’s okay. But pull out if you got it, pull it out and take a look at it and think through. Okay. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. That helped here. That, that was, that was valuable there. That one, that one can use a little more work. So use this to reflect. I’ll just do a quick example. I’m looking at my 2020 vision right now. If you have seen it or you’re looking at it, you can see there. There’s an eye there it’s, it’s this whole idea. And obviously the 2020 vision piece was a natural for last year. And so I wanted to make sure there was an eye in there, this, this vision concept, and it’s got the idea of impact and, and positive sphere of influence and keeping track of what’s going on through a journaling process, which I had not done a good job of in the past and wanting to make it a bigger part of my life. And you can see some of the things that are outside of my, my main vision here, things like, uh, the shot clock. I have this tendency to feel like there’s a clock ticking in my head all of the time. And I, I wanted to move away from, I want to move that clock off to the side. I, I knew it wouldn’t get rid of it. It’s part of how I made, but I didn’t want it to be the focus I wanted to be able to step back from that clock. And so things like that, as I look at this vision, I say, you know what? I’ve still got a ways to go on that, but it was better. And folks, that’s the thing. This is not something you make, you, you create this vision and then you stick it in the filing cabinet somewhere, each month as I updated for the next month, I’d look over the vision. And so that’s my process. It may not be for you, but again, this is not something you set it and forget it. This is something that is an ongoing driver. It’s your vision. It’s, it’s like putting your glasses on every morning. If you wear glasses, you set your vision by putting those glasses on. And that’s what this vision thing is all about. You look at it each day or each week or at a minimum each month. If you’ve got that look back on it. If you don’t get excited and start thinking, Oh, this is going to be awesome. Next year, I’m going to have this vision I can look back on. And as I go through this coming year, it can be that Northern star. It can be that reminder of the person that I’m wanting to become. So that’s, that’s the first part of the reflect.
The second piece of the reflect is the F five opportunity analysis. The F five is what we’ve used for years. It’s essentially the five main areas of life, all starting with an F. And there’s some pairing with this. So let me just walk you through. Uh, first one is faith, we all see that differently. Where is that in your life? What does that look like? Is that where you’d like it to be? The second one is foundations. This is referencing fuel and fitness. So your foundational elements, how has that fueling going? How has that fitness going? What does that look like? The third one is family and that includes friendships. Many of our friends are as close to us or closer than our family. What does that look like in our lives? Number four is finances. Money can cause a lot of problems, but it’s a key part of life. It can bring a lot of stress when we make poor decisions. And so doing an annual review of your finances and what you’re doing with that and the direction you’re taking and what your plans are for the year ahead, incredibly valuable. And then number five field of play. Now, field of play is referencing our career and our hobbies. We use this phrase because in most countries that are listening to this, you have the freedom to choose those things. Now that may not be true short-term. You may be in a job that you’ve got to stick with it because of the benefits. Maybe you have a child or a family member who’s ill, and you need that benefit. You need that coverage or whatever it might be. And so over the short term, you may not have a choice. You may need to stay, stay with it. But long-term, as we look at our career, we look at our hobbies. Are we saying I’ve got to or do we shift one letter from got to, to get to. I enjoy endurance sports. And I have a lot of triathlete and running friends that it just cracks me up because they’ll say things like, uh, I’ve got to do my long run this weekend, and I try not to give them too hard of a time. Cause I know I’ve said that in the past too, but you kind of want to look at them and go, you’ve got to? Like, this is a hobby dude. If it’s that big of a stressor, maybe pick a different hobby. And that’s the point of the field of play. You choose the field in your career and your hobbies. And if it’s consistently an I’ve got to, Oh, maybe it’s the wrong field. And like I said, maybe you can’t shift like this, but maybe you start looking forward a year, two years, three years to what would be the next step to move on to a different field. So that’s the next piece of that reflect aspect is the F five opportunity analysis, faith, foundations, which is fuel and fitness, family, including friendships, finances, and field of play.
And the next thing to consider is your phase of life. We all go through a range of phases in our lives, Suzanna and I are now empty nesters. We’re in our mid fifties, our kids, two of them are, are married and the other one’s engaged as we’re recording this. So a year from now, all of our kids will be married. You know, it’s a different phase of life than when we were driving around to soccer practice and gymnastics and musicals and all these other things. And that reflects on our life, that changes our schedules. It changes what we’re doing and, and you’re in a different phase of life now, too. And the whole idea of the balance wheel, where you say, and maybe take the F five and you say, Oh, you know, my career needs to be exactly equal to my focus on fitness, exactly equal to my emphasis on developing my faith and exactly equal to no, that’s not true. Now you don’t want to blow one up in the process of developing another one, uh, using the triathlon example. Again, triathletes, especially Ironman triathletes are known unfortunately very well for wrecking their marriages in the pursuit of I’m not even sure what, because it takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of energy. It takes a lot of focus to be any good at it. And we blow up things that are far more important than some trip to Hawaii for the Ironman world championship. You’re not looking for perfect balance. This is a different phase of life than you were in last year or 10 years ago, or you will be next year. But in that phase of life where maybe you are more focused on your career, maybe you are more focused on your kids. Maybe you are more focused on your finances, whatever it is, don’t blow up the other four. They’re not necessarily going to be equal to in terms of your emphasis or your energy, but what are you doing to make certain that we don’t blow up something that’s, long-term far more important. It’s a phase of life, very, very important. And then look for patterns. As you look at these things and you say, you know, here’s some of the joys from the last year, here’s some of the struggles here’s some of the holes, uh, here’s something that went real well with last year’s theme. This is an area that kind of fell short. I look at my F five, what are the patterns? What do you see there as you analyze that? As you think that through, what comes out because that will help you as you develop the next one.
Now, with all of that collected together, we start to go deeper. We start thinking, okay, here’s where I am. Here’s what I’ve been doing. Here’s where my focus has been. In the coming year, who is the person that I want to become? That’s our reflect piece. Now we move on to the collect piece. It’s reflect, collect, connect. Collect is where we begin our theme brainstorming. You’ve written all this stuff out. Now you start to put it into, into themes or pictures or words or phrases or a verse or a poster or whatever your style is. Everyone’s different. And that’s totally, totally fine. I like the visual. I like being able to look at whatever 2019, I just pulled up. It’s a farm, a big word of the year for me is cultivated. I had all these areas and I felt like nothing was coming to fruition. I was spending all this time and energy and, and I wasn’t seeing anything grow. And then I realized it that’s exactly what this year is all about. It’s about cultivating all these other things. And so that was my visual. And it’s got a lot of other stuff to it if you’re looking at it. But the main focus was a field where nothing is growing, but it’s ready to grow, preparing to grow. And that was a powerful vision for me in 2019. So this is where you start looking for certain words. In my journal, I’ll just have a page that I start mid to late November. And I’ll just start writing words down, things that resonate, things that fit with maybe where I’m heading fit with some of the themes that I noticed as I do that F five analysis and look at the joys and struggles and holes and that kind of stuff. And I just start jotting down words or phrases or concepts, I then will start considering pictures, images, what might reflect this word or this phrase that’s super important to me. How would that fit into this broader theme? And so you just go and, and you’re not in a rush. That’s the fun thing about starting this a little bit early, but even if you’re starting this in January or February, take your time. There’s no rule that this has to be set by January 7th. You have got to have your vision in place by then! No, it doesn’t matter. This is your life. If you’re starting it January 26th. Awesome. Make a goal to maybe by the end of February to have this thing dialed in. It’s fine. Whenever you’re starting this, give yourself some time to really think it through, to ponder it, to digest those words and phrases and pictures and start thinking is that, so we start collecting these things. We just kind of are putting it up almost like your, your vision board. You’ve seen those in the past. People just put a bunch of stuff on a vision board. That’s kind of what you’re doing here. Again. Maybe you stop with that. Maybe you go with a phrase or a verse or a word or something like that. And that’s fine. Maybe that’s your process. If you want to take this further, if you want to do the broader visual, I think it’ll pay off for you. Again, I’ve been doing this almost 10 years and every single year, this is a powerful process. And including, by the way, including those of you who are listening to this when it’s fresh 2020, you know, a lot of people thought of vision in 2020, like really with all the COVID-19 and quarantining and lockdowns and everything, it was thrown off track. What good is a vision there? Folks more valuable than ever because vision is not influenced by external situation, vision is who am I going to be? Not, not who am I going to be if my life is perfect, not who am I going to be if my finances all come together, not who am I going to be if I graduate on time, not who am I going to be if I find that special someone. No, It’s, who am I going to be? Period. Enough said on that.
All right. We begin pulling these things together and you now, what I’ll do is I’ll just open up a PowerPoint slide or Canva, and I’ll start putting these pictures together and I’ll start saying, okay, so this is important. And again, for some of you might just want to split it up there and that’s totally fine. If it means something to you, that’s, what’s important. It doesn’t matter what other people think of it. I like to just kind of see it all come together. So I’ll give you an example from mine this year, again, mid fifties. One of the things that I want to do a lot more of in the coming year is to get off the highway, explore a little bit, you know, see what’s out there. And some things that I haven’t tried out before. And, and so my visual, as you can see if you’re looking at it at this point, and it may be tweaked because I’m recording this, but not quite the end of the year, it’s a highway with a speed limit sign. I turn 55 next year. So it’s a speed limit, sign a 55. And I’m saying, you know what? Let’s get off that highway. And so it’s got a little trail that goes off from the highway and it heads up to this idea of be a catalyst. Those of you who know me know that that’s central to me is this idea of be a catalyst. And so I wanted that. We just developed this cool little logo that I think I mentioned to you in the intro. And so that’s a really fun thing. It’s got the compass, it’s got the North pointing North, it’s got the mountains, all that kind of stuff. And so I wanted that to be a central piece of, of what my vision is for this coming year. And then over on the left, it’s got four words, move fuel, rest and connect. Again, those of you who are part of the catalyst community, you’ve heard those four used before here quite a bit. It’s a central part of what we see as well being move, fuel, rest, and connect. And I want to be sure that as I go off the highway, I’ve got some pretty good routines set up. I want to be sure I don’t get off on the valuable routines. Maybe establish some new things, explore some new things. Like I said earlier, don’t blow up the good stuff as you pursue some new stuff. And so that was a reminder to do that. My faith is very important to me. I’ve got a verse up in the top that says Galatians 6:9, and Galatians 6:9 basically says, don’t give up. If you keep doing the right things, it’s going to pay dividends long-term, it’s going to make a difference in long-term. I, like you, I get pretty discouraged at times. And you put all this time and energy and effort into something. And it just, sometimes it feels like you’re just beating your head against the wall and it’s not going anywhere. It’s not doing anything. And so my reminder going into this coming year was this Galatians 6:9 of it’s going to make a difference, keep doing the right things. Even when it feels like no one’s listening. When it feels like no one cares when it feels like you’re not making a difference, stay the course. And then just below that, there’s a little symbol and it has a lot of different meanings, but one of the meanings is around family and friends. And I just wanted to put that in the forefront of my reminder, that as I go off the highway and I explore these new areas and take these, hopefully some new adventures, it was just a reminder that these are not Brad adventures. These are not, Oh, I’m going off to do my own thing. I am the soloist. Now my family is critical to me. I am so in love with our family. I have so many close friends and some that I’d like to get closer to. And those, I want to nurture both family and friends. I want to nurture in the coming years as I go off on these paths. So that was just a reminder. Cause when I first, that was the last addition by the way, when I first looked at this, I was like, okay, that looks pretty cool. And I’m like, I don’t like that at all. Cause that’s like, Brad is Mr. Independent. And he’s going off to do his thing. And I’m thinking that’s not my intention at all. So that’s anyway, that’s why I added that last one. So, so that’s the idea. You, you take these different pictures and ideas and words and phrases and verses, you know, whatever, and you put it into one and you put it into a way that matters to you.
And then that’s where we go to the last phase connect. Here, you, you, you look at it. And like I did yesterday and I went, Oh no, that’s missing a huge piece. That’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to pause and ponder. As you put this together, does this resonate, you’re not selling a product. You’re not developing an ad. You’re creating your vision. And so you take the time once you’re almost done. And I would encourage you to sit on this for a couple of weeks, put it out somewhere where you’re gonna see it every day. So as you look at it and you can go, uh, yeah, yeah, that that’s it. Or like I did you look at it and go, something’s missing. That’s this isn’t me at all. Like, there’s some cool stuff in here, but, but that’s not me. That’s not the person I want to be. Oh, that’s what it’s missing. So you’ll probably have a similar type of thing happen. Pause and ponder, potentially share portions of it with a couple of close friends, family member. See what they think. Does this sound like me does this make sense? Does, and it doesn’t really matter if it makes sense to them, it’s for you. But as they look at it from a little outsider’s perspective, did they have any thoughts, any suggestions. And then at that point, we turn the rough version into a vision or a final version that you can use throughout the year. And there are a lot of different ways you can use it so you can make it your screensaver. You can put it on your, you know, your phone wallpaper. You can, like I said, in my day-timer, I have it printed out on a three by five card. So that every time I update my next month, I look at that vision and I think, how are we doing? How are we doing? Where’s the Northern star? Are we headed in the right direction? Yeah, I’m sure you have other ways you can just maybe just sits on your desk, but use it, use it. This is great exercise. It’s a powerful exercise. It’s it’s incredibly thought provoking exercise. It loses so much of it’s value if it just goes in a filing cabinet after you have to get it all set up. And then finally, the last piece of the connect is the follow-up. This is where you work with, if you have a health and wellness coach, you work with that coach to talk through how you’re going to pursue this. What, what does this look like in a practical way? Maybe what goals do we build now that the vision is clear? That’s a cool part of this. Once this is clear setting your goals at that’s practically dotting I’s and crossing T’s because once this is crystal clear, who am I going to become? The goals, pretty straightforward. If you’ve got a health and wellness coach, they can help you walk through that. But maybe it’s a mentor. Maybe it’s a friend, maybe it’s your spouse, but don’t let this just sit off to the side. Use this personally. And if possible, as part of the connect phase, get somebody else involved in taking a look and give you some feedback and encouragement and holding you accountable to it. That’s a powerful process too. I’ve got a buddy of mine that we did this last year, a little bit together, shared what our vision was for the coming year. And it’s powerful to say, you know, I’m going to be sitting down with this friend of mine, uh, a month from now a week from now or whatever, and talk about how, how it’s gone. That’s powerful. Make use of that. Does that make sense? We got it? Again the handout is available if you’d like to go through that off of the podcast is walking your way through piece by piece, but please take your time in doing this. This can be an incredibly powerful process if we do it right.
Thanks for tuning into the number one podcast for health and wellness coaching. Next week, we welcome a well-known registered dietician by the name of Wendi Earl back to the show, she’s going to be talking about all things creatine. If you’re like me, you might think of creatine as something that muscle heads use. Now I won’t give away all of the punchlines from her interview, but let’s just say that after we were done, Suzanna and I have now both integrated it more into what we’re doing on a daily basis. And I immediately called my 80 year old parents to discuss what they could be doing with creatine as well. Thanks for being part of the catalyst community and for choosing to spend part of your week with us. If you’re looking to pursue your career as a health and wellness coach, and you want to talk through the steps, reach out to us [email protected]. You’re also welcome to hang out with us over on the health and wellness coaching forum Facebook group, just request membership. We’ll get you in there. This is Dr. Bradford Cooper, of the Catalyst Coaching Institute, make it a great rest of your week. And I’ll speak with you soon on the next episode of the Catalyst Health, Wellness, and Performance Coaching podcast, or maybe over on the YouTube coaching channel.