What You Value Most
Putting your best future forward.
Published: June 16, 2010
A new vision of possibilities.
Exploring your values and letting them guide your vision builds a bridge between where you are now and a future that can be even more rewarding than your past. The whole enterprise of envisioning what may come hinges on what my husband, Gordon, calls double vision—the capacity to see surface reality and the drive to explore the hidden treasures that lie beneath. Gordon loves to quote the late social psychologist Erich Fromm who said, “The present is pregnant with the possible.”
Some of the questions you might think about if you’re ready to develop the kind of x-ray vision that helps you see through the present situation to the possible future include:
- What do I value most?
- What are my greatest strengths?
- What skills that I already have can be most easily transferred to a new situation?
- What kind of new skills do I need, and how can I learn them?
- Who could advise me?
- What contacts do I have that might help?
- Is there a network of people with similar interests that I can join?
You may want to reflect on these questions and then decide whether or not you’re ready to take them further. Times of change offer a natural opportunity to explore who you are, what makes you happy, and how you’d most like to live your life. If you’re ready to devote some time to envisioning and manifesting your best future, here’s a strategy to help you get started.
The homework I’m suggesting will take several hours to complete, but the results are well worth the effort. While you can certainly do the process by yourself, it’s particularly rewarding (and fun) to get a few trusted friends together for a day and do it as a small group. Sharing what each person discovers invariably deepens everyone’s insights, strengthening the bonds of friendship and understanding. Here is the process:
Think about what’s most important to you. Take an hour or longer to write about your most cherished values. Here are some questions to guide you:
- At the end of your life, when you look back, what will mean the most to you? What do you want your legacy to be? Write an obituary for yourself that you’d feel proud of.
- What do you think the purpose of human life is? Do you believe you have a specific destiny? If so, are you on the right track? If not, how might you adjust your course?
- What do enjoy doing most? What are your strengths and talents?
What are the weaknesses that get in your way?
- How do you want your loved ones—children, parents, and friends—to think of you?
- What kind of career is most appealing to you? The sky’s the limit—if you want to be President but only have an eighth-grade education, that’s okay. The assignment is to “blue-sky” about what you’d most like to do, rather than get bogged down in how you’re going to get there.
- What do want to learn more about? Why?
Ask your inner mentor for guidance. We all have questions about life that we’d like to run past a wise mentor, but sometimes we already know the answers. It’s just a matter of retrieving them from the subconscious mind, which is connected to a greater source of wisdom than our own personal experiences. This process is one way to connect with that larger intelligence:
- Get into a relaxed state that favors reverie. You might play a musical instrument, meditate, do some yoga or stretching, or put on some relaxing music.
- Find a comfortable place to sit for about 20 minutes. Close your eyes and take ten deep breaths, imagining that you’re going down one step of a staircase with each exhalation.
- At the bottom of the staircase, imagine going through a door and then following a path through beautiful woods to a sunlit clearing where there’s a rustic wooden bench. Sit there. This is where your inner mentor will always meet you. Look around and find your mentor.
- Ask his or her name, and thank your mentor for coming.
- Ask any question that comes to mind. You might get an answer right away, or perhaps it will come later when you write about your experience in your journal.
When you’re finished, thank your mentor, walk back down the path, go through the door, and go back up the stairs to where you’re sitting.
Open your eyes and jot down your experience in your journal. The answers you’re seeking sometimes become clearer as you write.
Create a vision and a mission statement. A vision statement describes the ideal life you want to manifest. It is detailed and covers all the important aspects of life. A mission statement is a concise one-sentence description of what you actually do. Now that you’ve spent some time contemplating your values and seeking guidance from your own wise self, it’s time to write vision and mission statements that focus your intention. These clarify your goals and become the basis for creating step-by-step action plans to make your possible future a reality.
Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., is one of the leading experts on stress, spirituality, and the mind/body connection. She has a doctorate in medical sciences from Harvard Medical School and is a licensed clinical psychologist.