When you sit back and envision your dream home, what comes to mind? Do you see a waterfront Malibu mansion? Or perhaps a rustic cottage in the Hudson River Valley? I’ve started asking people this question and have found that nearly everyone has some vision for what they want their dream home to look like. And as people answered the question they couldn’t help but let a smile and dreamy look come over them. It was as if they could already taste their dream home.
On the other hand, when I’d ask the same people what they wanted their dream life to look like, their vision became blurry. Many people had answers that included aspects of financial success, romance, leisure, and family. But beyond that, very few could paint as clear a picture as they had for their home.
This is an issue that I come across constantly in my work as a coach. People know that they want a “successful life” or “happiness” but they have no idea what that looks like to them. The problem with this is, if you don’t have a solid blueprint for what you want your life to look like, then how can you ever build it? Just as your dream home needs a vision and a clear blueprint, your dream life needs one or else you risk building the wrong life altogether.
I Didn’t Have a Blueprint
When I graduated from college I had no clear picture of what I wanted to do with my life. This uncertainty led to eight painful months of unemployment, followed by a mindless entry-level job at a large financial corporation. However, happy to be employed, I worked hard and kept my head down. I never questioned whether or not I was going in the right direction. I never thought about my “dream life.” In fact, I never thought building something like that was possible for someone like me.
Due to this lack of direction, I continued to build my career without seeing the bigger picture. I studied for financial industry exams, got certified to sell products and then started on the sales desk. Brick by brick, I was building a career. I was making more money and getting promoted, so I thought I was going the right way.
What I didn’t realize back then was that I was building this sales career without zooming out and seeing the master blueprint of my life. While the financial pillar of my life was strengthening, I was neglecting relationships, leisure, creativity, and romance. What’s worse is that my job as a salesperson never fulfilled me. Because of this, as I continued to build this unstable structure, my life slowly started to crumble around me.
I was five years into my career and realized that the life and career I was building was not what I wanted after all. It felt like I was sitting in the middle of a demolished home with a few shaky pillars struggling to stay upright. I felt empty and alone. I was devastated.
It was then that I started to question everything about who I was and what I was searching for. If the life I had been building wasn’t what I wanted, then what did I want? That period in my life, although filled with new doubts and uncertainty, provided me with a chance to rebuild. I could look at the pillars that I wanted to use to support my dream life and design life from the ground up. This time I wouldn’t build without a solid plan. This time I’d get it right.
Three years later and my dream life is still under construction. But, this time I have a blueprint. I have a clear vision for my career and the lifestyle that I want to accompany it. The foundation feels strong and I’m thrilled to make my new vision a reality.
How to Create Your Blueprint
I continue to see that the reason most people never create a blueprint for their life is that they don’t know how to get started. It’s easier for us to visualize a Malibu mansion than it is for us to visualize how to find fulfillment in all aspects of our lives. The issue is that there are many different factors at play here that you must take into account.
One exercise you can use to start to map out the different pillars of your dream life is what’s called, The Wheel of Life. The Wheel of Life is a coaching tool that can help you picture eight key areas in your life so you can determine your ideal vision for each and how to balance them.
I recommend you use the chart below or the downloadable file from Co-Active Coaching to write down your ideal life vision for each of the eight categories. Ask yourself, what does success look like to me in terms of career, family, money and so on? Once you have your ideal vision for each, rate each category on a scale of 1-10 in terms of how important each is to you. You can then weigh each category against one another to determine how you want to allocate your time to build each vision.
When you’ve constructed your wheel, evaluate where your life is now in comparison to what you’ve written down. Are you on course? Where do you need to rethink your strategy? This wheel can serve as your dream life blueprint. Any time you need to make a big decision in life ask yourself, which decision will get me closer to the dream life I’ve mapped out on this wheel?
As I learned the hard way, if you’re not careful, you can build a life that you don’t want. If this is you, know that hope is not lost. It’s never too late to tear down and rebuild. Then, once you have a clear blueprint, you can build your ideal life brick by brick.
The choice is yours. Either map out a strong foundation and rebuild or live in an unstable structure forever.