Authors: Carol Christen,Jean M. Blomquist,Richard N. Bolles
Tags: #Juvenile Nonfiction, #Business & Economics, #Careers, #School & Education, #Non-Fiction
• A large piece of white paper
• Colored pencils or pens
• Old magazines that you can cut up
Draw pictures or symbols, or create a collage to express visually the kind of life you want to live. Use the following questions to get yourself thinking about what you want to include in your picture (but be sure to add anything else that’s important to you):
• In your ideal life, where do you live (city, suburb, rural area, on an island, in the mountains)?
• What kind of house or living space do you want?
• What is your neighborhood like?
• Who is with you (friends, family, pets)?
• What do you do for a living?
• Do you want to travel? Where do you want to go?
• Where do you want to vacation?
• What activities—sports, cultural, religious/spiritual, family, community—do you want to participate in?
You may want to work on your picture for several days until you feel it truly represents the life you want.
Now, look at your picture again. Take a few minutes to think about what you need to do to help make this ideal life happen. Because you can’t do everything at once, choose one area that you can do something about now. (You may want to return to
to review how to set short-term and long-term goals.) Having a vision of what you want your life to be is an important step in helping it become reality.
The following exercise will help you envision your future and the way you want to live your life, including what and who you want to play a part in it. Pretend a magic wand has been waved over your life, giving you everything that’s important to you in your ideal life. Have fun with this, but also give yourself plenty of time to
think about what matters most to you. You might want to complete this exercise over several days or even a few weeks to let what’s really important to you rise to the surface. The goal is to have a visual image—a concrete vision—of your ideal life.
WRITING YOUR PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE
Everyone needs an “operating manual” for his or her life. That’s really what a philosophy of life is. It identifies what you value most in life and articulates how you want to live your life. Your life philosophy will also guide your decisions.
Begin by writing down what is most important to you (for example, family, friends, money, art, freedom, or whatever). Think about why these are important to you and why you want them to be a part of your life. You may find that this exercise overlaps with the previous exercise—friends and family, for example, may come up in both exercises. That’s fine. Now, go a bit further and think about particular qualities that are important to you, such as truth, integrity, peace, compassion, or forgiveness.
Next, list the beliefs by which you intend to live your life (for example, all people are created equal, creation is sacred, or love is more powerful than hate). Then think about how you’ll face difficult times in your life. How do you hope you’ll react to obstacles that may block the path to your goals? How will you deal with loss or frustration?
Give yourself time to think about what you value and believe. Think about what makes your life meaningful. Work on your philosophy of life for ten minutes a day for a week, or spend some time on it each weekend for a month or two. See what emerges as you reflect on these important matters. Your philosophy of life will evolve and grow as you do. Revisit the list of questions from time to time to think about what matters most to you.
If you hit a rough patch in life, reviewing your philosophy of life will help you assess what went wrong and how to get back on track. If you’re ever disappointed with yourself or your life, ask yourself these questions:
• Am I paying attention to what I value most?
• Am I living my life by what I most deeply believe?
TIP: Get started thinking about your philosophy of life by watching Grammy winner John Legend giving a speech entitled Living a Soulful Life at
Once you have a concrete vision of your future, let’s explore more deeply how you want to live that life and who you want to be. This includes discovering the unique contribution you have to make to the world and finding meaning in life—in your individual life and in the world around you. As you live, love, and learn more about life, you’ll create—spoken or unspoken—a philosophy of life, a way in which you understand and view life events and people. A philosophy of
life also helps you to interpret and understand your life experiences. For some, this meaning will be grounded in their religious or spiritual beliefs and the interaction of those beliefs with their life experiences; for others, it will grow more directly out of their life experiences. We invite you to take a few minutes now to reflect on your philosophy of life.
Your philosophy of life shapes everything that you do, as well as everything you are and are becoming. It shapes all aspects of your life. Just as you created a concrete vision of your future life in the discovery exercise Picturing Your Ideal Life, writing out your philosophy of life will help you articulate how you want to live your life. And, as we said before, knowing what you want is the first step to making it happen.
Becoming the Person You Want to Be
As you picture your ideal life and articulate your philosophy of life, you may also want to reflect on what kind of person you want to be. When you think about the person you want to be, you’ll undoubtedly think about people who are important to you—people who have helped, inspired, befriended, or supported you through thick and thin. Who are the people you respect and admire? Who are your
role models? Take a few moments now to reflect on those people who, by their lives and example, can help you become the person you want to be.
Those who preserve their integrity remain unshaken by the storms of daily life. They do not stir like leaves on a tree or follow the herd where it runs. In their mind remains the ideal attitude and conduct of living. This is not something given to them by others. It is their roots.… It is a strength that exists deep within them.
Reflecting on the traits you value—those that you most admire in the people you consider to be your role models—can help you cultivate those traits in your own life. If you can, arrange to talk with one or more of your role models about a trait of theirs that you particularly admire; for example, their compassion, intellect, wit, honesty, or ability to make people feel comfortable. Ask them how they developed that trait and who their role models were and are. See whether they have suggestions as to how you can develop that trait in your own life.
MY ROLE MODELS
Take a sheet of paper and turn it so that the long edge is horizontal. Fold the sheet in half, crease it, and then fold it in half again. You should have four columns of equal width.
Title the first column “Names of people I admire.” Under that heading, make a list of people you admire. These can be real people you know or have known, historical figures, or fictional characters from books, movies, comic books, or TV.
Title the second column “What I admire about them or their lives.” Think about each person in the first column, and then write down what you admire about them.