We've touched on how important it is to make the conscious decision, regularly, to live intentionally. In my last post I highlighted some simple steps to get started with that process.
The next step in living life on your terms, in my humble opinion, is what I call "Purpose Triangulation." As I've said, we are cumulative beings—the result of millions of moments, interactions, influences, opportunities, choices, and opportunity costs. Understanding and accepting that is key to creating a cohesive vision and subsequent set of realistic goals to get you there.
So how do you begin to create a realistic vision for yourself, one that allows you to design and build the life you want?
I'd argue that this is a task best broken down into chunks, which is why I’ll be doing a Purpose Triangulation Series here on The Revolution Collective blog. Today we’ll start with part one, where we’ll concern ourselves with creating the vision portion of Purpose Triangulation. As this series of posts continues, we’ll move into the action that organizes and operationalizes the insights from this first set of exercises.
Like the idea of Purpose Triangulation itself, creating the vision is something I’ve broken out into a few small exercises with big impact. For our purposes, I'd like to talk about this in two parts: (1) Self-Awareness & Personal Projection, and (2) Renaissance & Revolution. Today we’ll take these two areas and examine some activities to help you outline the early stages of your vision toward Purpose Triangulation.
Upon pulling together some of these activities, I grouped four of them and executed them inside a fairly small window of time. The exercises you’ll read about below, as well as the Opportunities-Objectives Mapping and Time/Energy Analysis activities we’ll talk about in the Action portion of this series, all took place in the space of one Saturday. The value of this is not to be missed—creating the environment, time, and mindset to complete a set of exercises like this is a commitment. When you approach them all in the span of a day, or a few hours, it keeps the information fresh in your mind. There is always benefit to taking a step back, but small breaks with relatively quick returns to this process will prove optimal for the first round.
VISION Part 1: Self-Awareness & Personal Projection
As I started to dive into this process, I found that the best place to start was with gaining an authentic view of who I am and, perhaps more importantly, who I want to be. Again, you can go back and reference some of the exercises I recommended for living intentionally as you begin to play with the activities below. The key here is that you’re working on reserving judgment and creating an honest picture of who you want to become and how you want your life to expand and evolve in the next year, two years, five years (the timeline is up to you).
Exercise 1A: Picture Yourself and Project Your Future "Perfect" Self
To distance yourself from the judgement that comes with being truly honest about what you want, I recommend doing this exercise in the third person—that is, telling the story not as "I" but as "she" or "he." So find twenty minutes to clear your head, sit down with a piece of paper, and write freely. On one side of the paper, write about how you (he or she) is now; then flip the page over and write the story of your future self.
Using words, phrases, or sentences, paint the picture of the woman (or man) you are now and the evolution of that person—the person you want to be in a year, five years, ten years. The “now” piece is an honest self-assessment; the “future” piece is an honest self-projection—the story of the best, most fulfilled version of yourself.
1. The NOW: Who is she/he?
2. The FUTURE: Who will she/he become?
For each piece of this exercise, ask yourself... What does she like? What are her values? What does she prioritize? What skills does she have (professionally, personally; intellectually, emotionally)? What are her strengths? What are her weaknesses? What doesn't she do, like, care about? What makes her happiest? What makes her struggle? How does she see herself? How does she want to be seen? Who is important to her? What does she give up for what she wants? What does she hold onto that she no longer needs? What does she have (yes, be materialistic here if that is your truth—and don't judge yourself for it!)? How does she behave? What motivates her?
Anything and everything you can possibly think of that might be a part of the most perfect version of yourself should be captured here. General and specific statements are okay—just get going. J
Exercise 1B: Vision Board
If you are a visual person, more drawn to pictures than words, this is an excellent exercise for you. I used to think this activity was super cheesy, but having participated in it on a couple occasions with friends, I've found it's actually very useful.
The idea is this: take a blank “canvas”—if you want to go analog, grab a poster board from your nearest arts/office supply store; if you want to go digital, open a blank PowerPoint or even a new Pinterest board. If you’re going analog, grab some magazines, scissors, and tape/glue; digital route will have you googling photos.
On your blank canvas, start to collect images that signify goals for yourself, things you want to become or achieve in the next year of your life. Create a collage that represents this vision for your life in the future. When you’re done, save it as a photo, hang it in your room, make it the background on your laptop—just put it somewhere you can reference from time to time. Visual representations are great reminders and motivators as you try to grow into the next version of yourself and reach your objectives.
VISION PART 2: Renaissance & Revolution
When I think about personal growth, I like to break it out into two pieces—Renaissance and Revolution. Renaissance represents in this context a rebirth of interest in learning. Hopefully this is not an entirely new interest for you, but rather (as it was for me), a renewed interest in targeted learning experiences, practices, and endeavors. Revolution, then, as a follow-on to Renaissance, is where and how you want to apply your cumulative life skills and interests to pursue new growth experiences, activities, career paths, hobbies, and so on.
Exercise 2A: Defining Your Personal Renaissance
Step away from the first exercise, where you spilled out all the ways you want to be in the future, most “perfect” version of yourself. In this exercise, focus on leaning into your curiosities. The main question you’re answering here is: What do you want to learn? Intellectually, physically, organizationally, emotionally—where are your growth areas? Are there things you’ve started to learn that require more time to become adept, or an expert? Are there things you’re unsure about learning but for some reason keep crossing your mind? Maybe you want to learn CPR, yoga, coding—maybe you want to learn how to be more social, more focused, more relaxed, more serious? Maybe you want to learn how to fly planes or how to finance living abroad. What skills don’t you have that you’ve found yourself desiring? Write it all down here. Anything and everything that peaks your curiosity.
Remember to reserve judgment—even continue using the third person (“she” or “he” instead of “I”) to distance yourself—nothing is too big or too small, too complex or too petty. It’s all important to the big picture.
Some sample statements (aggregate snippet of mine and some friends’ first rounds):
*Notice some of these statements are specific, some are general—both are okay at this stage.
- She knows how to fly a plane
- He speaks Spanish, English, and Japanese (semi-fluently)
- She understands how neuroscience impacts business and productivity
- She has an MBA (focused on X, Y, Z)
- He has a PhD in Behavioral Economics
Exercise 2B: Envisioning Your Individual Revolution
Following a similar process as the exercises above, use the third person and try to let yourself dream big as you move into this exercise. Using statements, words, phrases, quotes—whatever works best for you—describe the outcomes you want for your future self. The big question here is: What do you want to do/create in your life? Think about the way you might want to change the world, your lifestyle, or improve the lives of those around you—how your gifts, skills, passions and curiosities (cumulatively or individually) could lead to some sort of forward motion, movement, or initiative in life.
Some example statements (aggregate snippet of mine and some friends’ first rounds):
*Notice some of these statements are specific, some are general—both are okay at this stage.
- He has written a book (about X, Y, Z)
- She has started a company (to X, Y, Z)
- He is financially autonomous
- She creates opportunities for individuals to achieve their dreams
- He spends time with her family and friends
- She constantly seeks out new people and challenges (by X, Y, Z)
- She owns a house (in XYZ)
- He travels internationally
- She has worked in a startup environment (doing X, Y, Z)
- He dresses well and carries himself confidently
- She volunteers regularly with non-profit organizations
- He helps underprivileged women prepare for new careers
- She has taught one child to read
- She spends time outdoors (doing X, Y, Z … in order to P, D, Q)
- He speaks publicly to increase awareness (about X, Y, Z)
So What’s Next?
This is a lot for one blog post… and for those who participate, it signifies a huge step in the direction of triangulating your purpose. But what I’ve shared above is by no means the complete process (which is iterative and ever-evolving). What we’ve discussed here is all about creating a VISION of who you are, who you want to become, what you know, what you want to learn, and what you want to change in the world. Getting your arms (and your head) around what that vision entails (or doesn’t) is the foundation for figuring out what your path ahead looks like—what gets included and excluded—and how we go about making your vision into reality.
Purpose Triangulation Series | Part 2: Action
The next step is to take the insights garnered from these exercises and place them into the context of your current life, opportunities, and reality. In the second part of this Purpose Triangulation series, we’ll talk about how to realize your vision using organization, phasing, and opportunity mapping exercises.
Stay tuned and, as always, please share any feedback, tips, questions, or requests in the comments!
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