Life Is A Do-It-Yourself Project

Life Is A Do-It-Yourself Project

Dream lofty dreams, as you dream, so shall you become.
Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be;
your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.
                                                                     -- James Allen

Like William Henley who once said, "I am the master of my fate. The captain of my soul," I agree that Life is a Do-It Yourself project. If you want to live a certain kind of life, you are going to have to be proactive so you can consciously create life as you would like it.

You must first mentally visualize and then physically create what you want. You can do this by having a clear vision and developing strong intentions. Your life is your gift, how you appreciate it and use it is entirely up to you.

Take this story as an example of the importance of building it with excellence and pride (author unknown):

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house-building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.

The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.

When the carpenter finished his work, the employer came to inspect the house. He handed the front-door key to the carpenter. "This is your house, "he said, "my gift to you." The carpenter was shocked. What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently.

So it is with us. We build our lives, a day at a time, often putting less than our best into the building. Then we are shocked to realize we have to live in the house we have built! If we could do it over, we'd do it much differently. And better.

But you cannot go back. You are the carpenter. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Your attitudes and the choices you make today build the house you live in tomorrow. Build wisely! Build with commitment, pride, joy, and love.

Begin With the End In Mind

When planning our future, we need to look at our whole life, and each of its dimensions. Stephen Covey once said, "Begin with the end in mind." To build the life and career you want, you must first have a vision -- first visualize, then crystallize.

Anyone can get a job, but what we are concerned with is a much greater goal than that. We are talking about creating our life's work, and that involves risk, energy, and perseverance. Considering our whole life areas (love, labor, leisure, and learning) when consciously creating our vision enables us to express who we really are and allows us to live a fuller life. In all areas, we need to feel that we have power to direct and create the kind of life we desire.

What Is A Vision?

A vision is a guiding image or blueprint of success formed in terms of how you want to live your life. It is a picture of the preferred future that you seek to create. Your vision reveals what you really want out of life and empowers you to make smarter life decisions.

A well-written vision statement should inspire you, be clear and concrete, stretch your imagination, and support your value system. You can evoke your vision with imagery, meditation, symbols, journaling, and story telling.

Think big. In fact, if your vision doesn't scare you, then either your vision or your Spirit is too small. The power of belief in what you want can take you far.

The Power of Your Thinking is Limitless

When you finally, truly make up your mind about something, it is much easier to do than you first thought. It is all the going back and forth, coming up with reasons to do it or not to do it, thinking and talking about it that makes it difficult for most people to put great ideas into action. The power of your thinking is limitless. No matter what problem or situation you are faced with, you can put your mind over the matter and more effectively deal with it.

When you are planning your career, you have to keep a clear vision of what you want, otherwise, you will wake up five or twenty years down the road and wonder "How did I get here?" You are in charge of your life. You can create the work and life experiences you want. For instance, if you want to spend more time helping others on the job, or do more project management, create it in the job you already have. If that is not possible, you can manifest it elsewhere.

Above all, if you are not happy doing what you are doing, stop! No one is making you do it but yourself.

Case Illustration

I will share with you how my company, Get Smart! Learning Books Seminars, came to be. Several years ago, I was working at a for-profit university as Director of Career Development. I enjoyed my work very much, especially the students, and had no real plans to change career directions, let alone start my own business. As with any organization, there were politics and ethical dilemmas. Suffice it to say, my personal values were in direct conflict with that of the company for a variety of reasons.

I also hadn't planned on writing my first book Get Smart! About Modern Romantic Relationships, but had started writing it while working there. I soon found myself working so many hours that I did not have time to complete my passion project. As it came to be, I did leave the school and took about five months to do nothing but put the finishing touches on the book.

As I became more enmeshed in my writing, the Get Smart! concept evolved. I began teaching Get Smart! Seminars based on my book, and soon was receiving all kinds of contracts for other training projects. Now, I am my own boss, and in charge of the work that I take on. I also have a very clear vision of where I am headed.

Does what I do have meaning? More than I could have imagined. The really amazing thing is that after I made the transition, things started to fall in place -- work and support came from unexpected people and places. I believe that this will happen for all of you, if you can just learn to follow your intuition and be willing to take risks.

What Is Your Life Vision?

A life vision (also known as a mission statement) is not just the work you want to do, it is the underlying motivator to why you do what you do in all areas of your life. It is built around your most important values and beliefs. It is a guiding document in which you can refer to throughout your life.

How you create your life based on your vision is how you will consciously choose to live your life. Choose wisely, as each area impacts others. For example, if you are not living your vision in one of your areas, such as labor, it will impact how you experience your other life areas.

The goal is to strive for your unique balance. In fact, when you find your unique balance, each life dimension complements and supports the others. For example, a healthy leisure life where you can relax and become refreshed enhances your love, labor, and learning areas.

Writing Your Life Vision

Some benefits of writing a life vision are that it identifies your direction, promotes laser-like focus, encourages creative thinking, and results in more fulfilling life. As Joel Arthur Blake commented, "Vision without action is merely a dream, action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world." By writing out your life vision, you will have a clearer idea of where you are going, which will later help you develop a strategy on how to get there.

Look at your life in its entirety and actively reflect about how you want it to be and the person you want to become. This will help you to choose work, people, and situations that are best suited to you.

Living By Your Life Vision and Staying on Your Spiritual Path

Living by your life vision will make it easier to stay on your spiritual path because you will know what is important to you, and feel empowered to develop a strategy. Sometimes you will feel scared, uncertain, and at those times, you need to tap into your intuition for guidance. Believe in yourself. You can do anything you set your mind and heart on.

And remember, you are free to create your life vision however you wish it to be. Because it comes from your soul, your vision will no doubt be what you hold closest to your heart. Writing a life vision will help you to recognize the importance of taking a proactive stance when designing your life. Just like a builder who builds a house, who develops a blueprint first, your life vision is your blueprint.

People with clear life visions do not merely react to whatever life throws at them, but instead, actively participate in creating the way they want their lives to be. That is because they are in tune with their higher selves and they choose not to cater to the needs of their lower selves (ego). Ask yourself: Is my life progressing the way I would like it?

Rate your current life circumstance in the following dimensions:
Love ___     Labor ___     Leisure ___     Learning ___

3: I am living in alignment with my life vision

2: I am mostly living in alignment with my life vision

1: I am somewhat living in alignment with my life vision

0: I am not living in alignment with my life vision

If you scored:

9-12: You are in alignment

5-8: You are not far off, with some adjustments, you can be in alignment

0-4: You are out of alignment

In addition to having various experiences, we also play many roles within each of our life areas. Let's use the example of a woman in her mid-forties:

Love: Mother, wife, sister, child, friend
Labor: Teacher and writer in the creative arts
Leisure: Tennis player, traveler, beachcomber
Learning: College-educated, lifelong learner

The vision she wrote for herself gives her a clear idea of what she wants to experience while on her journey. Once she knows what she values, she can then set specific goals for each of her life areas.

Life Vision Visualization

During meditation, visualize your whole life. Think about each dimension. Create a special place, where you can focus on the kind of life you want to create -- decorate it with symbols of success, etc. When you do your meditation, you may want to light a candle and play soft music to set the mood.

You also may want to combine this exercise with a daily affirmation. Release these positive thoughts and images to the universe and let go of the outcome.

Close your eyes, take five cleansing breaths, visualize a peaceful and calming place that you like to spend time -- perhaps a favorite vacation spot, the mountains or the beach. Look around you, and take in the environment, listen to the sounds, feel how you feel being there. Finally, find a comfortable place to rest. Now, slowly relax your entire body and mind and let your mind wander to thoughts of the kind of life you would like to live. Imagine everything in your head.

* What would your love life be like?

* What kind of work would you be doing?

* What do you do in your leisure time?

* What kind of learning activities are you a part of?

Let images wander freely into your mind and the feelings they bring flow into your heart. How do each of your life areas complement the others? Which area needs more time and attention now?

Your heart and mind are now filled with comfort and joy. And know in your heart of hearts that you can conjure this vision whenever you need reminding of what is important to you. Know that holding this life vision close to your heart will help you to manifest it in reality.

Smart Tip

Create images or pictures to help you visualize your life vision. Or develop a logo that represents your life.

Writing Your Life Vision

1. Meditate about what you would like your life to look like and be like.

2. Jot down any thoughts, feelings, or images that came up during your meditation.

3. Sketch out a picture or symbol of something important to your life vision.

4. Write a rough draft.

5. Write your life vision statement, in present terms, as if it is already that way.

6. Keep it to one page.

7. Include statements from the four main life areas: love, labor, leisure, and learning.

8. Include your top three values.

You will know you have finished with your life vision when you feel at peace with it.

Smart Tip

Don't worry about how you are going to create and live out your life vision.

Simply get it down on paper. The "How" will come later, for now focus on the "Why."

Sample Life Vision

In this life, I play a dual role of student and teacher. I am a collector and imparter of wisdom to all who surround me. As a spiritual being having a human experience, I learn my soul's lessons so that I will evolve.

I know that life is a gift to be unwrapped daily and that there are four main spheres of human experience: love, labor, leisure, and learning.

In love, I practice patience and empathy with others.

* I am a positive role model for my family, friends, colleagues, and students.

* I seek out real connections with other like-minded souls.

* I bestow loving words and kind gestures onto those closest to me.

In labor, I educate and empower others to make conscious, smart decisions.

* I help others follow their intuition and trust themselves.

* I openly express myself through the spoken and written word.

* I am creative and unique in my approach to work.

In leisure, I honor my mind, body and spirit.

* I take time to relax, rejuvenate and have fun.

* I actively participate in healthy activities.

* I connect with nature and animals as a source of inspiration.

In learning, I take risks and do not fear failure; rather,

* I see mistakes as learning opportunities.

* I am a lifelong learner.

* I overcome obstacles, believe in myself and achieve my goals.

* When confused, I look to my higher self for guidance.

I consciously and intentionally create my life around my core values:

* Abundance (emotional, financial, and spiritual).

* Balance (in my personal and professional spheres).

* Contribution (making a difference in the world).

I operate from Acceptance, Authenticity, and Communication. I am willing to receive and appreciate the beauty, love, and wisdom available to me from nature and other human beings while on my journey.

When my Spirit takes flight, I will look upon my life with happiness, joy, and inner peace -- knowing that my existence on earth held meaning for myself and others.

Life Purpose Statement

To uncover your life's work, you must get clear on what you want by practicing visualization, knowing your purpose, and then living it out by the powerful act of creation. Once you know what vision you have for your life, you can move on to developing your purpose statement. When your work seems more like play, you are working on purpose.

The thing about a purpose is that you may find yourself engaging in it both in and out of work. You can't separate your purpose from who you are, so you will find that it often flows into your personal life.

A purpose statement is a broad-based declaration of what you feel passionate about providing to the world and/or what you want to share with others in terms of your life's work. It is not a career objective or limited to a job title or career field. Keep it to a sentence in length and phrase it so that it clearly communicates to others what you want to accomplish via your life's work.

For example, my life purpose is to educate and empower people to make smarter decisions in important life areas.

Sample words for your Purpose Statement:

Advance Advise Affirm Choose

Coordinate Compose Counsel Create

Demonstrate Develop Educate Encourage

Express Facilitate Give Heal

Inspire Invent Involve Lead

Love Make Motivate Organize

Perform Promote Raise Support

Strive Teach Touch Validate

Value Wisdom Write

Smart Tip

Post your life vision and life purpose statements in your office, so you can reflect on them daily.

The most fulfilling life is one where you individually design and tailor it to your specifications.

Your life is like a big, beautiful blooming flower with numerous uniquely decorated petals making up your unique experience:

Your lessons are your personal learning and growth opportunities.

Your vision is an overall blueprint for the kind of life you want to lead.

Your purpose is what you want to share with others.

Your life's work are the on-going personal and professional projects you complete.

Your goals are mini-steps that help to support your work, purpose, and vision.

Your roles are the parts that you play along your journey.

Your path is the way you choose to create your life by the conscious choices you make during your journey.

You must find your path and bravely follow it wherever it leads.

Journal Assignment

Write your life vision and life purpose statements.

This article was excerpted from the book:
Get Smart, by Michelle L. Casto.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Get Smart Publishing. ©2000. www.getsmartseries.com

Recent book by this author:

The Destiny Discovery: Find Your Soul's Path to Success
by Michelle Casto.

The Destiny Discovery: Find Your Soul's Path to Success by Casto, Michelle.The Destiny Discovery: Find Your Soul's Path To Success teaches readers how to connect with their Soul to live their greatest life. This book will touch and inspire people from all walks of life who are looking to wake up to their purpose, access their personal power, and be a contribution to themselves and the world. In this enlightening book, Michelle L. Casto combines her proven Destiny Discovery Process and professional expertise in personal transformation and career guidance, to take you on an exciting journey of discovery toward the destiny that already lives in your heart.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book and/or download the Kindle edition.

About the Author

Michelle L. Casto

Michelle L. Casto is a Whole Life Coach who resides in Atlanta, Georgia. She holds a Master of Education from the University of South Carolina, a Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio University, and is a Certified Career Development and Customer Service Instructor, who has taught and counseled students at several major universities in the southeastern United States. As a writer, speaker, and trainer, she specializes in the areas of Romantic Relationships, Gender Communication, Career Development, Customer Service, and Stress Management. Visit her website at www.brightlightcoach.com

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