Productivity and GTD
Visions. Your activity from the top down
The first step in mastering the control of your activity is managing your actions, your projects and your calendar. When you want to frame your actions in areas of responsibility to have a clear view of your activity, you do it through your projects. Reading your list of projects and grouping them into focus categories you can draw conclusions. Looking from the bottom up you get an idea on how you are doing at the moment.
The problem arises when you try to go beyond the 20,000 ft and configure your perspective relying only on your daily actions. Choosing goals based on what you are doing ‘now’ may be an mistake. When you make a road trip, you start knowing where you are going, you do not set the route just looking at the traffic signs and posters you find while you are driving.
It is essential to have a clear vision—40,000 ft—. At this point oxygen is scarce and that causes your mind to slow down. You are used to deal with your projects, with the most immediate things that concern you. However, at this level you do not have enough benchmarks, and learning through trial and error is inefficient due to large time intervals until you can see the results or your work progress. It is necessary a careful thought, a reflection time in order to get a deep knowledge about your personal concerns and the close people that influence you.
Oddly enough I recommend you starting to build your vision by the roof. Go up to 50,000 ft and define your purpose and values. What leads you to that conclusion? Are these the precepts that govern you? You should be critical enough and not settle for a text that simply sounds good, or makes you feel comfortable with what others would think. The truth is sometimes bitter. Purposes and values in which you truly believe are a strong foundation for all your activities, including your vision.
Visualizing yourself five years ahead is a fictional exercise that is exciting and common among many of us, but there is a difference between fantasy and reality. How can you create your vision? Write it down on paper. I do not think it is possible to take such a process in a couple of hours. This surpasses it. The reflection process should be open during a period of time where you can review your progress in different areas, collect ideas and finally draw an image of success. The results of this reflection are not definitive; you can include new details over time although the base should remain intact.
It is a very particular way of working, but the fact of writing down my intentions somehow helps me make them official. I write them on cards I can consult when needed, and I sometimes hang them as posters in my office to have them always present. Having them on physical media get me motivated and make me think long term. Seeing where I am going helps me overcome the bad times we all go through at some point.
Have you already designed your vision? If the answer is no, now is a good time to open this chapter of your life.