If you don't know where you are going, how will you know what to do next? It is a logical next step to being proactive, since taking actions without an idea or vision of its impacts or outcomes is folly. Although it seems logical, it is true that many go through life not thinking much about the long term consequences or positive outcomes of their actions - of how much power they actually have to have the life they dream of. Those that realize this opportunity to co-create their own reality by changing their actions to align with their desired outcomes, are empowered. This should be taught to all children and fortunately, somewhere along the way, early on, I was taught this information, perhaps through osmosis.
Ever since I was a young girl growing up during a brutal civil war in El Salvador, I decided I wanted to participate in the nurturing of peace, or at least help with the avoidance of suffering, as this obviously led to war. There are many paths I could have chosen to act on my personal mission. But before setting my compass on what my methods would be towards this lofty goal, I also had to check in with what my real-life situation and logistics were and what I had a "natural" affinity to - whether that was due to temperament, types of intelligences I am strong in, experiences, training, etc. - I made a list of what I love to do, what I was already good at, what I wanted to get better at, what made me happy doing, what I can earn a living doing, what would allow me to also be a present mother, and so forth. I needed to make sure that my vision for my future would be in alignment with direct actions, tasks and a daily reality that gave me joy vs stress, pessimism, overload, etc. My non-negotiables were that my dream life would be filled with adventure, humor, art, a good level of freedom, and lightheartedness.
After much reflection and some serendipity, I settled on working with children and being a writer. After trying out different age groups, I decided that early childhood and youth leadership education and expressing myself through writings, courses and multimedia was my "happy place" in the greater wheel of peace-creation and current professional paradigms. This involved applying for and working at schools, going to college to learn to be a writer and social studies teacher, producing my own early childhood programs, buying a farm and starting an eco-cultural education camp for youth, applying for and going through a master's in educational leadership program with SDSU, getting jobs as a writer, etc. And behind each of those big actions, were thousands of small and tiny actions, taken each and every day, to get even closer or maintain my ability to carry out my life's mission through a daily reality that I loved to do. Working to achieve or maintain goals need not be difficult or too arduous - there is a flow that seems to develop that opens up all the right doors at the right time when you are consistently taking actions that are in alignment with your deepest purpose and the greater good of yourself and those around you, such as your family and community, which should always be considered in all personal goal-setting and methods employed to achieve them.
The conversation around the dinner table got very lively this week as I discussed this habit with my four children and husband. They brought up the point that getting too focused on one's personal goals could lead us to fall short with making sure they have homework help or rides to extracurricular activities, so they can pursue their OWN personal goals at a time that they are dependent on me to help them since they have limited agency due to mobility, no money, etc. It was good to be reminded that we also must find the balance between family and community responsibilities and larger personal missions because time is finite and not all of our personal goals relate to career or life's purpose. Some are simply to have a happy home life and successful children. I was also reminded that a full and well-nourished belly also makes for a more peaceful home environment and that world peace begins in the home. Snap! I guess serving frozen lasagna is not in alignment with my life's mission after all, even if I decided to give it to them so that I could have more time to work on a chapter of a book on peace that I hope to publish someday. Their comments reminded me that we must always reflect on and re-evaluate even the smallest of our actions and the interrelation between acting upon one of our goals and the impact that may have on our other, parallel, goals in life.
Visionary Leadership Habits
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” - Charles Swindoll