Three years is 156 weeks, 1095 days or 1,577,836 minutes. What could you do in that time?

Most of my clients are so busy that they don’t have the space to imagine their future, and they lack the tools to explore the potential of their best possible future selves. They’re very clear on all the things they don’t want, but when I ask them where they would like to be in three years’ time there are a lot of blank faces. The problem with this approach is that when we don’t take control of our own future, life tends to knock us down.

I always start this exercise by writing my age in three years’ time on a piece of paper, and then the ages of my family members. Straight away I have something concrete to help me think about what this unfolding picture might look like.

Then I give myself permission to just let go. To let the past be the past for a moment. To put my doubts and worries to one side. To simply dream that if everything went as well as it could, what would my life look like three years from now?

I write down whatever comes to mind, unedited by my fears and unlimited by lack of money, skills or time. All the hopes and dreams I’m carrying for the next three years of my life are there on the page.

Here are some questions to help kickstart your thoughts:

  1. If you truly lived your purpose each day, what would you be doing that gave your life meaning?
  2. If you were at your best more frequently, how do you think life would feel?
  3. If you acted only on your values, what would others say about the way you were living?
  4. If your definition of success was being realised, what accomplishment would you be proudest of?
  5. If you were mindful of the golden moments in your life, what would you see?

Get specific

  • What kind of work will you be doing? How do you feel about this work?
  • How much money will you be earning? What are you doing with it?
  • What’s your health like? How are you getting this result?
  • Who brings you joy in your life? How do you spend your time together?
  • What are you learning? What difference does this make in your life?
  • What do you do for fun? Do you have a hobby or a passion project? Are you travelling?
  • Where are you living? What makes this feel like a haven?
  • What have you conquered emotionally?
  • Who are your role models and mentors?
  • How are you moving through the world?

Example: Jack’s vision

‘I’m relaxing at a five-star resort in Thailand with my family, enjoying the fruits of success from a very committed year of work. I’m on a career high after landing a prestigious and lucrative promotion that I’ve been working towards my entire career, and I feel creatively satisfied in my work. We own a beautiful home on the water, which we’re renovating, and we’ve just settled on our second investment property purchase. We’re planning a two-month family adventure around Europe next year. My wife and I enjoy fortnightly “date nights” and weekend getaways without the kids every three to four months. I’ve spent the past couple of years working on my self-development as a person, and I feel happy and content with who I am, both personally and professionally. It’s liberating to experience such freedom as a result of planning who I am and where I want to get to.’

Example: Kate’s vision

‘After working full-time as a hospital nurse for many years, my partner and I have managed to pay off most of our mortgage and our kids are old enough to need less from us, so I’ve returned to university to pursue a higher degree in an area I’ve become passionate about – midwifery. I’m only working three days a week at the hospital, so while I still enjoy the adrenaline rush of a busy shift, I also have more balance in my life. As well as studying, I’m able to take more time to exercise and look after my own health, and see more of my partner and children. I do some volunteer work in the community, educating disadvantaged women on looking after their health and caring for their babies, and get a lot of satisfaction from knowing I’ve contributed positively to their lives. Because I’ve learned to prioritise myself, I’m able to give energy to others without resenting it.’

The grand adventure

Think of your life as a grand adventure. To get creative you’ll need some space and a blank page or board, and permission from yourself to just let go. Start with your mind in a place of abundance. There is such abundance in life that many of us do not see or acknowledge. When you think of all the things you have and what is around you, you are living abundantly. There are flowers, trees, fresh air and running water – so much to be grateful for. Focusing on what we already have, and the choices we can make, is a great place to start.

How to create your three-year vision

  • Write down your age, and the ages of your family members, in three years’ time.
  • Put your mind in a place of abundance. Focus on the things you already have and the choices you’re free to make.
  • Try to spend 15–20 minutes each day for three days in a row just writing down what you hope your life will be like three years from now.
  • Be as specific and detailed as possible, so you can see, feel and hear what this new reality will be like.
  • Notice which ideas you keep coming back to once you’ve completed this exercise.

You can download free screensavers for motivation and receive a free printable vision board here.

(Extract taken from The Life Plan, by Shannah Kennedy. Head over to bookdepository.com to order your copy or get in touch with Shannah here to find out about executive coaching options.)