A year ago, I was starting over. Just like we all are this week. The gift of a new year.
I didn’t feel good about it though. I could feel the tension between the life I was living and the life I could live, although it wasn’t totally clear what I really wanted.
So I asked myself the first question that changed my life. Some people call it “The Miracle Question”:
What if I woke up tomorrow, and a miracle happened? My life was exactly how I want it to be. What would it look like?
I went into detail about how I spent the hours of my day, what I was doing for a career, how I related to God, even my own individual impact and our church’s impact in the city. (The story of my perfect life is right here if you want to take a look.)
While writing down a vision is a good place to start, obviously following up on that vision is better. But that was the problem – I really didn’t do much with it. The story of my could-be life got stuck under obligations, excuses and drudgery, and I almost forgot about it. Until April.
In April, I had a painful conversation with myself. I asked myself another question:
If this life you are living is not what you want, why aren’t you doing anything about?
I hated that question. It stung like regret. Ouch.
I had to get real about what I was doing with my life, how my vision to write a book and do other big things in my heart were crowded out while I did other nice things with my life. Good things that made me look important and spiritual, but they were sucking the life right out of me.
I finally wrote down my three big life dreams that I hadn’t accomplished yet. And I was doing nothing, literally nothing, to move toward them.
I had to admit it – I was a Big Dream Virgin. Instead of living a life I could be proud of, a life free of regret, I’d opted for comfortable mediocrity to avoid the challenges of hard work, potential rejection and failure.
But those tough two questions centered me each time I returned to them.
Two of my dreams I had less control over, but one, the dream to write, was fully within my ability to pursue. I grew uncomfortable and slowly committed to writing. Just a couple posts a week, and over time, I found my “voice”, that sweet spot you hit when you’re doing something you were made to do, and it finally feels like it fits.
I still wanted to write a book, but ironically, I didn’t know what to write about. I told God if he gave me a book idea, I would write it. But nothing happened for the first two months.
Then one day while I was on vacation, minding my business, the book came to me, with a title and outline and everything. A download. My hands could barely keep up with the thoughts that rushed into my head.
A couple months later, after some hardcore procrastination, I started writing the book.
Then I announced the book, which increased the accountability level on my commitment.
I am here today, early in 2014, and I am still writing the book. It’s not going as fast as I want, mostly because of my own fears, but I am sticking with it.
On the one year anniversary of my vision, January 14, I will be able to say I am doing it. I am writing a book, just like I envisioned in my perfect life story.
I also mentioned kids plural in that story, and by this April, that will also be true.
There are many elements of that story missing from my present day reality. But I told God I was serious the day I sat down and wrote it out. And I told myself too.
If you’re starting your new year and your personal vision still feels blurry, I encourage you to ask yourself these get-to-the-heart questions. Then journal your answers so you can return to them.
1. “What if I woke up tomorrow, and a miracle happened? My life was exactly how I want it to be. What would it look like?”
2. “If this life you are living is not what you want, why aren’t you doing anything about?”
I bet you will discover some eye-opening truth when you ask these questions. Keep referring back to these stories throughout the year. They aren’t just goals – they are dreams and visions, which will capture your imagination and your passion far better than a bullet list.
I will be taking more time to talk dreams, goals and vision here as the new year launches. Later this week, I’m going to post a few of my favorite resources for day, life and vision planning, as well as a few other favorites to help you move toward your personal and relational goals.
Be prepared to be motivated, but of course, the actual work is up to you.
So tell me this: what’s the one main thing keeping you from living the life you want? Write your one-word answer in the Comments below.
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