Last week I stumbled upon Cameron Herold’s work by quite an accident. I listened to a YouTube video just before going to sleep (listening because I turn my phone upside down and don’t watch). Chase Jarvis was interviewing Life coach Marie Forleo on CreativeLive. I must have dozed off, but when I got up, Marie Forleo was referring to use A Painted Picture to choose which passion, out of several, you really want to pursue.
I was intrigued.
For some time, I have been struggling with my focus. I think I have spread myself too thin, and I wanted to cut down on a few things so that I can actually finish a few projects.
I wanted to know what A Painted Picture was and how to create it.
For the next three days, I could do nothing else but read all I could find on The Painted Picture. What I found was gold. And I want to share it with you here.
What is A Painted Picture?
Many of us have participated in planning days at work, where a group of us sit together and come up with a jumble of words to create a vision and mission statement for the organizations we worked for.
That is a completely wrong way to do it. Most of the time, those vision and mission statements sit there for years without inspiring anyone.
Cameron Herold, in his book Double Double, described a technique for CEOs to create a clear vision for their companies. He called it A Painted Picture.
A painted picture is not a picture. It is a written description that every CEO should write to describe where he wants to take his company. It is written in plain English rather than meaningless, obscure, and heave words we are so used to in the corporate world. Once the thoughts are on paper, it is much easier to communicate with the conduit to materialize them.
It is like building your dream home.
When you want to build your home, you know what you want your home to look like. You have a vision for your home, but the people who will build your home don’t. You describe your vision to an architect and he creates a blueprint based on it. Then you take that blueprint and give it to your builder. It is effortless to explain what you want to be done and very easy for the builder to explain to his subcontractors. They build the house exactly as per plan.
Imagine if you don’t have a vision for your dream house.
Will your dream house get built?
A vision lies behind every manifestation. Everything around us— the computer, the mobile phone, the book, the desk, the ergonomic chair began as an idea in someone’s head.
A vision is a mental picture of a future outcome, inspiring definite and sustained action towards its realization.
First say to yourself what you want to be, and then do what you have to do.— Epictetus.
If vision is that important, then why don’t we create a vision for our life?
First, Most of the time, we are too scared to plan our future. We want to avoid the disappointment of it not coming true.
Second, whatever vision we do have, it is limited to our current capability. We don’t want to dream big. Because we know we don’t have the “know-how’ to make, it comes true.
Our problem is we think too small. Small visions are not inspiring. They have the opposite effects. They limit us.
When it comes to our lives, our problem is not that hardly spend any time creating a vision.
We spend more time planning our holidays than planning our life. That is why our holidays materialize while our life doesn’t.
How to create a vision for your future?
We think in pictures.
An idea is a mental image. Thinking is an activity of forming mental images. Though all ideas are mental images, all ideas are not visions.
To create a vision, you need to touch with your inner self and find out what you want your dream life to look like. Just like your dream home, you need to think of different aspects of it.
I used Cameron Herold’s A Painted Picture to create a vision for myself. Here are the steps I used.
1. I got out of the box.
If you want to create a vision of your future, you need to get out of the box. Go out. Somewhere in nature. Somewhere where you can connect with your inner self. I sat on the lawn in my backyard.
Take with you just a notepad and a pen. No laptop, no iPad, no smartphone. Just a notepad. And write. Write in long-form. Say everything you want your life to be. Things you want to do. The places you want to visit. The person you want to become. (I filled three pages in two hours with lots of breaks for thinking and imagining.)
2. I created a vivid vision.
A Vivid Vision is a three-dimensional world that you can step into and explore.
Imagine something you want but don’t have. It could be a car you’ve loved your whole life. It could be like a bike, a piece of furniture, or even a relationship. Pretend you have it now. Imagine yourself inside of it, using it, touching it. Describe what it looks like, how it feels. What stands out? What are you noticing? Describe the features, the lighting, the flow, the energy, the feel of it.
That’s a pretty clear vision. This is what you need to do for your life.
I described the books I wanted to write. I gave them titles. I imagined how their covers would look like. I pictured myself signing my books. I imagined myself speaking at the literary events, on Ted Talks, being interviewed on TV and radio.
3. I went for big dreams
If we want our future to look bright, we need to think big. We need to dream big.
All my life, I was trained to set small achievable goals. I looked back in the past three years of my life and found so many things that had happened were not small by any means. There was no danger in thinking big. In fact, if I dream of big things, I am more likely to direct my attention to them and make them come true.
4. I went for three years rather than five.
A five-year vision is no good. Five years is a long time. Things are changing too quickly around us. I can’t see what will happen in five years of my life. One and two years are too close. I can’t achieve big dreams in one or two years. Three years is just right. It is not too close and not too far away. It is Goldielocks, right.
5. I didn’t worry about ‘how,’ and concentrated on ‘what.’
If you can release from the “how” part, you can grow really quickly. ‘How will I make your vision come true’ is very limiting. If I had worried about ‘how’ I wouldn’t have been able to build my dream home. I just like my dream home. I concentrated on ‘what’ I wanted in my life. Once I figured out ‘What’ I will look for who can help me materialize those things.
Once I wrote my vision in long-form, I boiled it down to a few dot points. Something I can clearly relate to. Then starting drawing a one-page image from it. It took me two days to create that, and it is still a work in progress, but it has most of the elements on it. I am going to use it in three ways.
- I will stay in front of me. It has gone on my pin board, in my diary, and on my computer. I intend to see it every day. It reminds me of where I want to be in three years and what I need to do to get there. I will reverse engineer and will plan the action I need to take to make that happen.
- I will be using visualization to realize it. Visualization is as important a tool as a vision itself. Have you ever seen an Olympic athlete in action? They are calm, confident, and in-the-zone. As if they have run the race, they are about to run thousands of times before. They indeed have in their minds. Soviet athletes have been reported to dedicate 75 percent of their training time to mental preparation techniques, including visualization. Jack Nicklaus has been quoted as saying that he never took a shot, not even in practice, without having a sharp, clearly focused image in his mind.
- I will be sharing my vision with others. This is the most important part. When you start sharing with others, you tap into the universal energy that helps you materialize your vision. Others start helping you. They start giving you links and introduce you to people who have been on the same journey. Now you are not the only one working on your vision but the whole world.
A few things about plans.
- Plans are worthless, but planning is priceless. Plans may not happen. So many things can go wrong. Markets can crash, a pandemic can occur, and health might deteriorate. But the planning process gives you an advantage and foresight to tackle any of unforeseeable mishaps and still achieve success.
- Leave enough room in your plans to move your goals or to abandon them completely. As things change or change as a person, feel free to make new plans, and set new deadlines.
- Plans, if not written, don’t exist.
- If you don’t have milestones, they are not plans but wishful thinking.
Take an afternoon off from your routine. Go somewhere where you can be by yourself. Write your vision for the next three years. Figure out what you want to be and what you want to achieve by 2024.