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In case you prefer to read, here’s the transcript:
Hi I’m Darcie Harris, and I want to personally welcome you to The Alpha Mare Academy
I’ve worked exclusively with female business owners since 1999
I’ve seen how hungry they are for the knowledge and tools they need to be successful and live the lives they want.
I know how much they want to grow themselves and grow their businesses.
That’s why we launched the Alpha Mare Academy.
We call it The Alpha Mare Academy because much of what I learned about myself and being leader came from my experience with horses.
In every herd of horses, there is one horse recognized to be in charge.
That horse is always a mare!
It’s a great responsibility to be The Alpha Mare
It’s her duty to tend to the safety and well-being of the entire herd.
The other horses look to her for leadership, boundaries and wise choices.
The Alpha Mare is self-assured, strong, and confident.
She leads with grounded, authentic power.
That sounds a lot like what it takes so be a business owner, doesn’t it!
It takes courage to be an entrepreneur, so The Alpha Mare Academy is all about strengthening YOU.
Teaching you the skills, providing you the tools, and most important, helping you grow yourself. Since you’re listening to this, I can already tell that you are a woman who wants to learn and grow, so let’s get started.
You’re listening to CREATE A BETTER LIFE FOR YOU AND YOURS
Have you ever seen the movie Shirley Valentine?
Pauline Collins plays Shirley, a middle-aged Liverpool housewife, who finds herself talking to the wall while she prepares her husband’s dinner, wondering what happened to her life.
One of my favorite lines from the movie is when Shirley looks directly into the camera, as if she were talking directly to you, and says, “You know, we don’t really do what we want in life. We do what we have to do, and we say it’s what we want.”
Wow, what a powerful “aha moment” Shirley had.
Shirley, of course, is a fictional character, but Gloria Steinem said something similar in her autobiography, Moving Beyond Words. She said, “…I’d been responding to outside emergencies for so long that I’d lost what little I had of the muscle that allows us to act instead of react…”
Both women, real and fictional, speak to the harsh reality of living on auto-pilot.
What’s interesting to me is the contrast in their lives of both “too little” and “too much.” While Shirley was bored and living in a world that grew smaller and more shallow each day, Gloria’s life was full and expansive — yet the demands left her burned out and fragmented.
There are consequences to not living intentionally.
That’s why today we’re talking about how to create a Personal Vision for your life. This Personal Vision will become like a compass that guides you, helps you choose your direction and stay on course.
Imagine that you’re going to take a trip. What the first thing you do? You choose where you want to go, right? You don’t just go to the airport and see which flights are leaving.
So if I’m planning a trip, I have to be aware of what kind of experience I want. Do I want to veg out at the beach for a week, fall asleep in a lounge chair in the sun reading a book? Or on this trip, do I want to explore an exotic city and learn something about a new culture? Maybe I’d like an outdoors-type trip, with hiking, horseback riding, white water rafting.
Actually, each of those trips sounds like fun to me. But if your life works like mine, I’m not able to go everywhere I want, so that means having to make choices, to prioritize. So I have sort of a mental list of the top five places I’d like to visit. Then, if a friend calls and say, hey, would you like to go to camping in Wyoming this fall, I can quickly scan my top five travel wish list and see that, no…camping in Wyoming is not on that list. Now I could still go, but that might mean that the resources of time and money can’t be devoted to Cape Cod that year because I’ve spent those resources on camping in Wyoming.
Everything else about your trip flows out of your decision about your destination. The route you take, whether you fly or drive, how long you plan to be away, the kinds of clothes you take — all these choices will depend on where you want to go. How would you know whether to pack shorts and tank tops or turtlenecks and fur lined gloves if you didn’t know your ultimate destination?
There is no right or wrong decision. The point is, you get to choose your destination. You get to choose your experience. You get to choose based on your own curiosity, your own inner longing, your own idea of fun, relaxation or adventure.
That’s the point of having a personal vision. You are imagining, creating and choosing your ultimate destination.
Creating a personal vision is your opportunity to dream, to consider all the possibilities, to think big. If you have a personal vision, you prevent the possibility of simply living on auto pilot, then waking up one day and realizing there were things you wanted to do, places you wanted to see, people you wanted to know and experiences you want to have…but it’s too late.
The important part of your personal vision is not the final vision. The important part is listening to yourself. The important part is being intentional. The important part is being aspirational.
Let’s take that vacation metaphor a little farther, just to make a point. Imagine a friend invites you to take a trip with her. You have no input in the planning and when you arrive you discover that you’re saying at charming little bed and breakfast in the mountains. But what you would really enjoy is a luxury resort with a spa, a pool. My point is, if you don’t choose, you may get something considerably different than what you hoped for.
Over the last five, maybe ten years, there has been much published and been quite a bit of talk about visioning – about dreaming big dreams. I love the idea of dreaming and thinking big. I love it for myself and I love seeing other women really explore their full potential.
I also think in this time of consciousness about vision, there is a wave of what I might call new-age thinking – oversimplified ideas that make it sound as though all you have to do is put a thought into the universe and something will happen.
I call that magical thinking. And I’ve seen people become very disappointed, very disillusioned when they “put their thoughts into the universe” and…nothing happened. So while I don’t want to burst any bubbles here, I do think that achieving your vision takes a bit more than just putting the thought into the universe. Some people work very hard at it, others sacrifice quite a lot. It depends on what your vision is.
When we start talking about a vision, part of the fun is thinking big, really dreaming big dreams. But let’s differentiate those big dreams from what I would call an escape fantasy. I have escape fantasies too! When life gets too demanding, too many deadlines, too much too do for too long, I always think that I’d like to live at the beach. Of course, there’s no stress at the beach! But when push comes to shove, I realize that I want to live right where I am, I’d just like to be better at avoiding those times when all my deadlines collide.
In his book Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert say that research shows that we not only have trouble foreseeing future events but we have more trouble foreseeing how we will feel about them when they happen.
So it’s difficult to accurately predict what our IDEAL life would look like, because we may never have experienced anything close to it, so how do we really know we’d like it?
For example, I have a friend who wanted to be a nurse from childhood on, but ended up doing HR and being a comptroller. At age 57 she decided to act on her dream, her vision. She sold everything — her house and most of her furnishings — so that she could quit her job and go to nursing school. She studied hard for two years. Believe me, it wasn’t easy memorizing pharmacology terms and anatomy at age 57, but did it. She graduated and went to work for a hospital. And you know what? It turns out she hated nursing. More accurately, she enjoyed nursing but hated the bureaucracy of the medical systems.
It turns out that she’d knew so little about what nursing was really liked that her dream, her vision was not very realistic. So she accomplished her dream but in the end it really wasn’t what she was looking for.
Some of us don’t really know what our dream is … there are too many choices.
That’s why it’s important to go deep, not to be misled or fooled by surface desires.
I also think there’s a difference between having a vision for maybe ten, fifteen or twenty years in the future and having a vision for what we’d really like our lives to look like, feel like and live like in the near future. Those are two very different visions.
So for this visioning exercise, instead of asking you, “picture your ideal life,” or “what is my dream life?” – which may lead you to a very false or unrealistic picture, I’m going to start with a simple question.
What does a better life for you and yours look like?
I think asking the question this way gives us an opportunity to aspire, to dream and still be grounded in reality.
I like using a 4-step process for getting to your Personal Vision. I’m going to walk you through the four steps right now, TO OUTLINE THE PROCESS, then I’ll go over them in more detail.
So right now, whether you are listening at your desk, in your care, walking the dog, maybe waiting at the airport, just ask yourself:
- What does a better life look like for me and my loved ones?
- Then, just take the first thought that comes to mind and turn that into a picture – not an abstract thought but a picture. For example, if you said, “More money” that means different things to different people. Does that mean you need to replace an aging car? If so, picture your new car. Does it mean that you want a bigger house? If so, picture the type of house you dream of. Or does it mean peace of mind about your retirement? If so, picture your IRA statement with the balance you’d like to see!
- Now that you have that picture, get a picture in your mind of where you are in the present, so to follow the examples I just used, picture your current car, your current house or your current IRA balance.
- Then get a visual picture in mind of what moving forward from the present to the future looks like. What action do you need to take? What do you need to do? Is there something you need to learn? Does it mean getting more new clients? Would you need to hire someone to supplement your skills? What will move you forward from your current reality to your desired vision?
So that’s a quick overview of how the FOUR STEPS TO CREATING A BETTER LIFE FOR YOU AND YOURS works. Of course, you’ll want to spend some time really reflecting on your personal vision. So let’s go through this in more detail.
1) Let yourself be in a reflective space, a place where you have some time to think and create, a place where you are uninterrupted…ask yourself, What does a better life look like for me and my loved ones? Don’t force this…you need to be in the right frame of mind and it can’t be contrived.
For me, that “open space” happens at unexpected times…in the shower, driving, and especially on a plane. That’s perfectly fine, just keep notes about what you think during those times.
Maybe I’m just oppositional, but if I try to MAKE it happen, what comes out is stiff and contrived.
2) As you imagine what “a better life” looks like for you, convert your thoughts into a picture. We want to go from some abstract, intellectual thought process to a very real, tangible image.
WHY ARE THE IMAGES MORE IMPORTANT THAN WORDS? Creating a mental picture helps you get specific. So, if your first thought about a better life was “less stress,” then take that another step and say “what does less stress look like?” Does that mean I spend more time relaxing, reading, watching a movie, enjoying friends? Get an actual picture in your mind.
Perhaps part of your “better life” includes a vacation home somewhere. Get an actual visual image in mind. Be as specific as possible.
Concrete images are less abstract than words, and that makes them more real and makes them easier to remember.
For example, if I asked you, “remember the definition of justice” and “remember the house you grew up in” which memory would be easiest to retrieve?
3) As these images come to you, create a story board. Now I hesitate to say this, because I can just imagine you thinking, “Yeah, right, in my spare time I’m going to do something equivalent to a 6th grade art project!”
This isn’t meant to be stressful, so just be easy on yourself. You can collect pictures from anywhere. It’s especially easy to do this online. Or if you read magazines, you can notice them in magazines. If you’re good at sketching, just sketch out your image that represents your desire. It’s up to you. Collect your images in a file or a folder, either an electronic folder for photos.
What I’ve done for my storyboard is very simple. I used my iPad. You can copy any image on your iPad or tablet to a photo folder specifically for your Personal Vision –that’s all it takes, just have those visual images where you can look at them. Ultimately you’ll want an actual story board. Or do it the old fashioned way and put them up on your refrigerator with kitchen magnets. Do whatever feels best to you. What we’re getting at is I want you to be able to see those images on a regular basis.
4) What I’d like you to end up with is a visual image for
- Your ideal dream
- What current reality is now
- What making progress looks like
For example, if your dream vision includes a beach house, find a photo of one in a magazine or online. Then snap a quick photo of your current home. Then look for a photo of something that represents moving toward your dream house.
During the time you are reflecting on the question, “What does a better life look like for you and yours?” here are a few areas to consider. It’s easy to focus just on the material, because that IS more concrete, but for your vision to be inspiring, you’ll find that the key to a more rewarding life is going beyond the material. Give some thought to each of these areas:
- Business or Professional life…how many hours a week do you want to work? Do you want to include less business travel or more? What monthly income do you want? What are the sources of that income? What staff do you want?
- Financial or Material things…what would you like to own that brings a better life for you? Would you like a college fund for your children, and if so, how much? What amount do you want in your retirement fund? Do you want to own rental property, and if so, how many? What is your vision for being debt free?
- Relationships…describe what you want your relationships to look like. Describe your friendships. Do you have a partner or spouse, and what would ;you like that relationship to look like?
- Lifestyle & Recreation…how much travel would you like? Where would you like to go? What do you want for relaxation, fun or recreation? Do you enjoy having friends over for dinner? Do you like to attend educational or intellectual events, like book clubs or hearing speakers or authors?
- Community…What type of community involvement do you want? Would you like to be politically active? Do you have a favorite volunteer or service project?
- Spiritual Needs…what keeps you grounded to your values? Do you want a relationship with a church or religious institution? Do you desire a regular or daily meditation or prayer time?
I really do want you to be easy with yourself in this process. I’ve done exercises like this before and been given a handout with a circle divided into equal pieces, like slicing up a pie. Each portion was identical in size and each portion was labeled supposed to represent a specific area of my life.
I found myself very resistant to that. I understand that most of us want some type of balance in our lives, but I think when we start prescribing for others that their lives should fit into neat little boxes, it makes them feel imperfect or inadequate because real life is much more uneven and bumpy. Maybe right now your business is taking up a disproportionate space in our life. Or maybe you have young children who take a disproportionate amount of your time. Please, please, do not beat yourself up for this. You may want to adjust and tweak, but let’s be real.
This is real life, not some idealized version.
ACTION So now you have a sense of your Personal Vision. Keep your storyboard where you can see it regularly and use it to help you make decisions.
Every single day brings choices about how we spend our time and our money. When you have your vision outlined, begin each day with the question, “How is what I am doing today moving me toward my vision?”
Some things you are doing simply won’t fit.
At this stage — where you take action to move in the direction of your dreams — you need to be very aware of any stories you may have in your head that could keep you from achieving your vision. A story is similar to a belief – it’s something running the background – something you may not be conscious of — a story or a belief — about the kind of person you are…
For example, you might be a person who believes it is important to be on time. Somewhere in your subconscious, you have a story (a belief) that says, “I’m the kind of person who is on time.” Conversely, if you’re a person who is frequently late, you have in your subconscious a story that says, “I’m the kind of person who is always late.” Stories can work either for or against us.
As you work with your Personal Vision statement, when you create the vision of what you want, you have to have a corresponding process that allows you to change the story in your head that say, “I’m the kind of person who can do this…”
For example, if your vision is to make $250,000 a year… do you have a story somewhere that would run counter to that? If you do, that would sabotage you, without you really knowing it. You have to change that story. (Just a side note here…to learn more about the stories in your life, look on our website for the series called The Alpha Mare: Embrace the Grace of your Power.)
Revisit your vision regularly and adjust it as your desire and priorities change.
Life is dynamic, not static. Life changes. Desires and tastes change. Our families change. Your vision may shift and change over the course of your life. So our vision needs to change and adapt too.
What matters is whether you are listening to your own that the inner voice, your own inner longing, or to the voices of others, to the voices of society, convention or family expectations.
I hope that your Personal Vision ENERGIZES and inspires you. I hope it lifts your thoughts, your spirits and your aspirations. Most of all, I hope it helps you create a meaningful life that brings YOU happiness.
As we close, know that you can always count on The Alpha Mare Academy for resources to feed your mind and your spirit. We’re here to help you think big and learn. We’re here to help you go deeper, and embrace the grace of your gifts and your power so that you can achieve your full potential. So please visit us again at ALPHAMAREACADEMY.COM. And know that I am wishing you the best as you pursue your version of success!