We all have dreams and goals for our future. But transforming those abstract ideas into concrete reality is never easy. It requires dedicated effort over an extended period of time. However, with the right strategy and mindset shifts, you can make serious progress in just 6-12 months.
In this post, we’ll break down the key elements of an “origin story” - the narrative arc that takes someone from where they are today to where they envision themselves in the future. The principles we’ll cover apply whether your goal is starting a business, getting in shape, pursuing a creative passion, or just creating a life you love.
Step 1: Define Your Anti-Vision
The first step is getting crystal clear on what you don’t want. Visualize the worst case scenario if you stay on your current trajectory.
Really imagine the specifics - what would your daily routine look like? Who would you be spending time with? What thoughts and feelings would you experience? How would you be treating your body? How would you feel about yourself?
Don’t hold back here. Let your imagination run wild with all the ways your life could go downhill if you don’t change course. The discomfort of facing your anti-vision head on is an essential spark for motivating real change.
Some find it helpful to literally draw out scenes of their anti-vision. Sit down with a notebook and sketch out the nightmare future in vivid detail. The visual component can make it feel more real.
Defining the anti-vision first brings a few benefits:
- It’s often easier to know what you don’t want based on experience vs. imagining some ideal future.
- Negative emotions like fear and anger can provide useful energy when channeled productively.
- Contrast clarifies what you actually want your vision to be.
Really immerse yourself in the world of the anti-vision. Feel the emotions that surface. Get angry and uncomfortable at the thought of it becoming real. This exercise alone will realign your thinking and priorities.
Step 2: Craft Your Vision
Next, use the anti-vision as a jumping off point to detail your ideal scenario. If the anti-vision represents entropy and chaos, the vision is the state of order and achievement you are striving to create.
- How do I want to spend my days?
- What work or creative pursuits will I immerse myself in?
- What does my physical health and fitness look like?
- What knowledge and skills have I gained?
- What relationships and community do I have around me?
- How do I feel emotionally on a day-to-day basis?
Again, be as specific as possible here. Precision is key for turning the vision into concrete goals and plans. Sketch out literal scenes of your ideal future just like you did for the anti-vision.
The vision should stretch you but still feel attainable. It exists just outside your comfort zone. If it feels too easy or comfortable, expand your vision further.
Step 3: Make a Plan
Now for the tactical part - laying out an actual plan to make the vision a reality. Open up your notebook and map out exactly what you’ll do on a daily and weekly basis over the next 6-12 months.
Be as granular as possible. Account for:
- Key tasks and routines for each day of the week
- New habits you’ll build up over time
- Skills you’ll dedicate focused time to developing
- How you’ll track progress and stay accountable
- How you’ll celebrate small wins along the way
- How you’ll get back on track when you fall off course
Engineering this detailed roadmap beats back entropy and stops good intentions from fading into oblivion. It’s like building the scaffolding to support the realization of your vision.
As legendary coach Vince Lombardi said: “The difference between a goal and a dream is a plan and a timeline.”
Step 4: Disappear From Distractions
With your anti-vision, vision, and plan crafted, it’s time to zero in on execution. This requires eliminating anything that doesn’t serve the vision to free up mental bandwidth.
“Disappearing” means radically reducing time spent on:
- Mindless entertainment like TV and video games
- Toxic relationships
- Social media feeds
- News cycles
- Any sources of “mental junk food”
Set clear rules and restrictions for yourself on when you can indulge distractions. Be disciplined in redirecting that freed up time and mental energy into your plan.
Step 5: Focus On Boring Fundamentals
Mastering any skill or achieving any goal comes down to nailing the “boring” fundamentals repeatedly over time.
Great chefs spend years perfecting knife skills and rice cooking techniques. Tennis pros drill proper grips and swing paths until those motions are cemented subconsciously.
The basics aren’t sexy. But they pay compound interest over years and decades of dedicated practice.
Your boring fundamentals might include:
- Establishing a rock solid morning routine
- Practicing deep work sprints for focused concentration
- Strength training 3x a week
- Meal prepping healthy food
- Setting aside an hour for deliberate learning/skill-building
Choose a handful of core fundamentals to implement day in, day out like clockwork. They will form the foundation on which your vision is built.
Step 6: Stay Process-Focused
A fatal mistake is obsessing over arbitrary finish lines. People constantly ask questions like “when will I start seeing results?” or “when will I reach X milestone?".
This timeframe mindset sets you up for frustration and failure. Meaningful growth isn’t linear. There are pitfalls and plateaus along the way.
The process itself is the goal. Your commitment is to continually show up and work the fundamentals in pursuit of excellence. Outcomes are simply byproducts of consistent process.
This is why masters in any domain preach “keeping your eyes on the path, not the prize.” Progress flows from perfecting the journey itself.
Step 7: Review and Reset Every 6 Months
Sticking to a process for 6 straight months is no easy task. After an initial push, it’s easy to slip into complacency and autopilot mode.
Build in an intentional off-ramp every 6 months to pause, review, celebrate progress, and design the next phase.
Use this as motivation to go all-out in your current 6 month sprint. At the end, take 2 weeks to fully renew before jumping into the next round with lessons learned.
Step 8: Socialize Your Vision
Surround yourself with people who reinforce your vision, not deter it. That may mean leaving some friends behind.
But you can also inspire people in your existing circles by sharing your vision with them. Their doubts and skepticism can become fuel to prove them wrong.
When your vision is expressed and endorsed socially, it strengthens commitment. Find forums and communities centered around your particular goals to plug into.
Living out your ideal vision doesn’t happen spontaneously. It requires re-imaging your future, planning the steps to get there, and executing on the boring but essential fundamentals day after day.
Use the template and principles in this post as your blueprint. In 6-12 months, you’ll look back in astonishment at how far you’ve come and be hungry to keep chasing the vision further.
The only thing left is to take that first step. Today is the perfect day to start your own inspiring origin story.