For the past 15 years, I have taken a week during my birthday month to revisit life and career, refining a vision for my coming years. I usually take a few days alone at the beach with no TV and no technology but the process can be done over time and in any quiet place.
These questions and exercises are great kindling to ignite a fire in your soul and reconnect with an authentic vision for your life and business. You can complete all the exercises or you can respond only to those which speak to you the most.
1. Imagine your face on the cover of a magazine or newspaper – the featured article is about you! If you could choose any magazine, what would it be? Is it Entrepreneur? Parents? Philanthropy Magazine? The Business Journal? What is the cover headline? What are the supporting headlines? Write the first paragraph or the whole article? Why are you being featured? Who contributes to the article and what did they say?
2. Imagine giving a speech at your own funeral. You are in a room full of all the people who have been meaningful to your life, whether living or passed. Who is there and what do you want to say to them? Who is missing and why?
3. You are being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award (think Academy Awards or similar). Who are you thanking for support, love and mentorship? Who is there? Who introduces you and what do they say? Whose face do you want to see in the front row while giving your speech?
4. Letters to Children: You write a letter to your child or grandchild at their birth. What does it say? What do you want for them? Reverse the exercise and assume your son or daughter hands you a letter upon graduation from high school or college. What does it say?
5. You and your spouse decide to renew your vows. In the presence of all your friends and family, you will deliver personal vows. What do your vows say? How about your spouse – what do his/her vows say?
6. It’s a Wonderful Life. Did you see the eternally favorite Christmas movie with Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey? George is a frustrated businessman who is given the gift of an angel who shows him what life would be like if George had never been born. Envision yourself as the main character in It’s a Wonderful Life. Whose life is better because you were born? Tell the story of how you positively impacted the lives of 5 key people in your life and how you made it better.
7. The Perfect Day: What are the ingredients to a perfect day? Name at least 5 activities you would do every day without fail and be able to go to sleep contented? Is it prayer, exercise, dinner with your spouse?
8. The Bucket List: Here is another movie inspired exercise for creating a vision. The gist of the movie is about two men with fatal illnesses trying to check off a list of all the things they want to do before they “kick the bucket.” You can place anything on the list: items you want to buy, places you want to travel, people you want to meet, forgiveness you want to extend, love you want to express. It’s your list.
9. Imagine your last days. Sitting in a rocking chair reminiscing beside your best friend, what will you spend your time talking about? What are the stories you tell over and over again? Who are the people you love? What are the experiences you shared which cause you to smile or laugh?
10. Wikipedia is the encyclopedia written by the crowd – anyone can contribute to it. When doing research on famous people, it’s usually their Wikipedia entry which comes up first on Google. If you’ve ever checked someone’s bio on Wikipedia, where do you look first? Are you looking for their professional achievements? Checking on how many marriages and children they have? Assume someone starts a Wikipedia entry about you. Who would contribute and what would they say? Is there anyone you don’t want to contribute to the entry?
If you are like most entrepreneurs, your personal and business lives are intertwined. You are forever trying to strike a balance between personal and business goals. You spend time creating a plan for your business which includes spreadsheets, strategies, and big goals. You write assumptions, a budget and create project plans to get the job done. But, do you spend the time to examine whether those plans fit with the vision for your life? If not, give yourself the gift of a retreat and refresh your vision.