By Jalene Case,

Our responsibilities can toss us around like we’re rafting through white-water rapids without a paddle. Our direction feels like it’s utterly controlled by the river. This is how it can feel when we don’t have a clear vision and goals guiding us to where we want to go.

I knew where I was heading and how I was going to get there before the pandemic hit. And then, for a while there, it felt like I was on a wild river without a paddle! To stick with this metaphor…now I see my path forward and have paddles in-hand to take me where I want to go. Here’s what my route looked like.

  1. First, I felt mad and frustrated.
  2. Then, I took advantage of several virtual learning opportunities.
  3. Slowly, a new vision of my future began to emerge.
  4. Recently, I wrote my new vision and goals and feel more focused and productive than ever.

In the past, I would have lingered longer in a state of busyness that gave me a false sense of purpose based on getting something done. This time, I went inside first to clarify what I wanted and how to get it. I didn’t get lost in wishing things were different. I took action – even though it was mostly uncomfortable – to make changes from the inside out.

Imagine you have a blank canvas in front of you and that your vision and goals are going to paint your future. Like every artist’s work is original, your approach will be your own. Use the ideas below to stimulate your inner creative, visionary.

Clarify Your Vision
Choose the exercise(s) that will help you paint your vision of the future.

  • Write or Mind Map what you want your future to look like. Include every sensory detail possible and the aspect of your life that you want to focus on now.
  • Use the Wild Writing technique by Natalie Goldberg. This method helps bypass the inner critic and get to what I call our inner operating system. Hold the topic of your vision in mind. Write for 10-minutes using the prompt “I know…” and then (shake your hand out!), and use the prompt “I don’t know…” to write for another 10-minutes. Follow these rules:
    • Don’t lift your pen from the paper.
    • Keep writing no matter what. If you don’t know what to write then write “I don’t know what to write” until something else comes.
    • Go for the jugular. You can burn or shred it later!
    • Don’t go back and correct anything. You can do that when you’re finished.
  • Consider these questions through writing, speaking the answers into your phone, pondering them while walking, or sharing them with someone you trust.
    • What do I want more of in my life? What do I want less of in my life?
    • If I could wave a magic wand, I would…
    • If I were to step into a way of being that represents me more fully, I would…
  • Make a Vision Board by gluing images to paper that represent the future you want. Tips: Choose metaphorical images such as facial expressions that represent how you want to feel or images that represent something tangible you want like a new BBQ grill, dog, or house. Use any paper you want. I’ve used everything from letter-size to poster-size. Give yourself uninterrupted time to create this visual image of your future.

Craft Your Goals Disclaimer:
I have a love/hate relationship with goals. I hate declaring what I will do because it means I have to abandon (for now!) some of my bright shiny ideas. I love that goals tether me, in the best way possible, to the future I want.

Goals work when they’re held within a system that works for you. Design your process. Work with it. Innovate it over and over again so it’s a valuable tool for you.

Tips for building a goal system:

  • Connect them to your values and vision.
  • Language matters so use words that inspire you (for example, instead of goal use action or target).
  • Key Results (which I call Desires) set a general direction (such as connect with clients, earn a healthy income, etc.).
  • Monthly and Quarterly Goals maintain focus on specific actions to achieve Key Results. These are the S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound).
  • Post Key Results and Goals in a prominent spot to minimize Squirrel! moments.
  • Share the results out loud monthly, with a person you trust, to stay true to yourself.
  • Take 15-minutes in the morning to write what you will do that day.
  • Consider what will support you in terms of habits, people, structures, etc.
  • Celebrate often! Based on neuroscience, celebration teaches our brain to do more of whatever we’re celebrating. I like to raise my arm in the air and say, “Yay me!”

Discerning your vision and goals will make riding the river of life much more fulfilling and meaningful. I’m a geek when it comes to learning about goal systems so I’d love to hear what yours looks like. Send me a note to