You have been given the right to choose the person you want to be. Because of this, you must decide what you truly want in life if you want to live with purpose. Once you identify what you truly want, then your choices can become intentional. Here is a general blueprint in helping you determine what that means for you and how to go about achieving it. I have compiled these ideas from personal life experiences, things I have observed, and lots of reading and thinking. My hope is that this will inspire and enbolden you to diligently strive to become who you want to be in any and every circumstance.
Part 1 – The Foundation
These first three principles set the foundation for success.
This is your ultimate goal. This is standing back and looking at the big picture of life and deciding what’s most important.
You can ask:
Who do I want to be or become?
Where do I want to go?
What does that look like?
We start with our own ultimate vision and then create subcategories of visions of the different roles or circumstances in our lives based on the ultimate vision. Your vision is what gives your life purpose and meaning. Having a clear vision is highly beneficial in making decisions because you have established what is most important to you and will choose the path that fits your vision to the best of your ability. If you were laying on your deathbed and were looking at the story of your life, what would you want to see? Visions are also powerful between people. People that have a shared purpose can accomplish so much together. On the other hand, purpose can be hindered or damaged by lack of vision or conflicting visions.
(For more on vision click here.)
Our perspectives are how we see things. There are so many different angles you can look at different situations. How someone looks at something depends on many factors and influences. Some perspectives are helpful and some aren’t, and whether they are helpful or not varies from person to person. A perspective cannot be beneficial to you if it does not match your vision. When using your vision to help clarify your perspectives ask, “Who do I want to be and what perspective will get me there?” This is an especially powerful technique to use in challenging circumstances where things may be confusing or difficult. Our feelings can sometimes get in the way of who we ultimately want to be, and we can use our perspective to give us a focus on how we really want to look at the situation even though we may not feel like seeing it that way. When we continually put our focus on the right perspective, over time it eventually becomes a natural part of who we are.
(For more on perspectives click here.)
Consistency is the influence behind our vision and perspectives. It’s the habits that are either growing our potential or hindering it. What we consistently do or think has to be in line with our vision or we will not grow into who we want to become. With a focus on the right efforts we are putting our vision into action. By doing this we gain a better understanding of our vision and change our perspectives accordingly. How or what to be consistent about varies from person to person, but there are many basic principles that can be followed to help with consistency. Habits matter and it’s the small things you do consistently overtime that make a big difference. Are those small things influencing you to grow or regress? Are you living your vision with what you’re consistent about?
(For more on consistency click here.)
Part 2 – Strategy
These are your defenses to accomplish your vision.
We all have behaviors or habits that are not in line with our vision. When we first decide to change a habit, it will not feel natural because our brains are designed to gravitate towards the patterns we have set and what feels comfortable. This is a good thing because it allows us to store lots of information and produce habits, like walking, without really having to think about it. It becomes a bad thing when those habits conflict with who we want to be. Because of this, we must set guidelines to follow to keep us from doing the things we don’t ultimately want and replacing it with things we do ultimately want so that our habits are changed and it becomes natural. You must do this with the understanding that you’re going to be uncomfortable for a period of time. Some habits become changed while others may just improve. Because of this, some guidelines are lifelong because even though we may get better at handling a habit, the temptation is deeply rooted and can be triggered at any time. The guidelines and the amount depend on the circumstances and the individual that is trying to change. Some people can make big changes all at once, but most people have to do a little bit at a time to be successful. Exceptions to these rules would be those who have addictions or anyone that has a habit that needs to stop immediately because it is causing immediate harm. In these situations, drastic changes have to be made no matter how uncomfortable.
It is good to do the best we can to set guidelines. These guidelines may include places we avoid, people we have to limit our association with or avoid, a change of location, changes in our environment, replacing bad habits with good habits, and many other things. Even though we set these guidelines and do the best we can, we can’t always control the circumstances we find ourselves in. This is why it is good to have an escape plan when you find yourself in situations that will pull you away from your vision. This would be something you do immediately to remove yourself from the situation or delay acting upon the temptation until the urge is gone. Many times it is actually more the pursuit of something that is more exciting than the actual receiving of it. When we participate in something we are sincerely trying to change, we are left feeling guilty and like a failure afterwards. If you can understand these concepts, this can help your escape plan. Remind yourself that is not worth it because of the guilt and the pain that comes from participating and then remember that the rewards of overcoming this temptation are far greater than participating in it. It is also beneficial to delay a strong temptation in small increments. For example, it is easier to say I’m going to delay this for five minutes instead of one hour. Once you get through those five minutes, then you delay it for another five minutes and keep repeating this til the urge goes away.
Accountability can be a very useful tool when seeking to live your vision. Accountability can come in many different forms, but one of the best ways to be accountable is directly with a person you know that has your best interest at heart. This person will encourage you but also be totally honest and not always tell you what you want to hear. Accountability is very effective when you are totally honest because it gives you something or someone that is outside yourself that you cannot hide from. It can be very useful between two commited people who are trying to change habits because you know your actions are either influencing someone for success or failure.
Broader than just individual accountability, but definitely a part of it, is your support system. These are the people that you surround yourself with that support your vision. While you may think you can go at it alone, you tremendously increase your success when you have the encouraging influence of others. These people will be your cheerleaders in pushing you to become better; your conscience and comfort when you fail. This will include the mentors in your life that you look to for counsel. The friends that show compassion in your distress. Those that give rebuke when needed. The people that share your purpose. Attitudes and ambitions are contagious. Surround yourself with others who promote your growth.
Evaluations are a must to grow in your vision. It is asking, “What is working and what is not working? How can I do better?” It is good to create the habit of constantly evaluating ourselves and our actions. Are you living your life within your vision to the best of your ability? You do need to understand that improvement takes time and effort so be careful about being too quick to change something you think may not be working. Give it a specified amount of time, and then re-evaluate whether it is producing the desired results. Also, you need to recognize that failure is part of the process. One of my favorite sayings is focus on progress not perfection. With this in mind, ask yourself, “How am I doing better today than I was yesterday?” While we understand that perfection is the ultimate goal, our daily progress is the avenue that will get us closer to perfection. Even if you only become 1% better today, you are still closer than you were before. The great thing is, you will realize that the more you consistently strive to progress, it starts to compound and you just get better and better at progressing. It would be great if this could be done without failure but that’s not how it works. Deep rooted thoughts and habits die hard but when you mess up, make it right and use it as an opportunity to grow and learn. Decide for yourself that you will get better at this no matter how many times you mess up and you will.
As you may have noticed, I did not particularly write this from a biblical viewpoint. Even though these ideas are biblical in nature, anyone can observe that these principles are universal whether you’re a Christian or not. However, our Creator takes all the guesswork out of the answers to our life’s purpose and gives guidance to the path we should follow. If you’re not a Christian, and your vision includes godly principles, then I can show you the road to a life of hope and confidence, but it is up to you to choose it. For those that are searching for meaning and others who have found it, I will be writing more on how these concepts apply to us from a biblical standpoint. I hope you will share this journey with me as we decipher what it means for a Christian to become more firmly rooted in the answer to the question of “who do you want to be?”
My Creator, You have given man the free will to choose their path. There is much desire to have a purpose in life, and I thank you that I find my vision of who I want to be in Your word. Thank you for Your guidance in my life’s choices. I devoutly choose Your will in any and every circumstance as I strive to boldly live out the vision of a godly servant by the power of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Truth in love,
Though there are many resources for these ideas that I wouldn’t even know where to begin, much influence comes from reading The 4:8 Principle by Tommy Newberry