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GYWD #3: The “Vision Thing”

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Do you get up every day excited about what you’re doing? Are you learning and growing and moving toward your goals? Do you know who you want to be and what you want to be doing ten or fifteen years from now? Do you have a clear sense of where writing fits into your ideal life of the future? Or how writing will help you get wherever it is you’re trying to go?

This week’s podcast tackles the “vision thing.” As followers of the 12WY know, the first step of implementing the system is to craft your vision. By the end of this episode, you will know why having a compelling vision is so powerful, and you’ll have a set of steps you can take to hone your writing vision.


Get my book: The 12 Week Year for Writers: A Comprehensive Guide to Getting Your Writing Done (Wiley 2021)

Martha Beck, Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live

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Trevor Thrall:
Thanks for joining me, you know, ever since george HW Bush poo pooed, but he called the vision thing back in 1987, when he was about to run for president, I’ve had a beef with people who poopoo the vision thing. A lot of people think visions are baloney, they’re vague or fuzzy, or they’re just fantasy and dreams, they don’t have any practical purpose, and you should just not bother. I couldn’t think people who say that are more wrong, and I don’t think I’m alone, I don’t think you could find a great philosopher or life coach, much less a productivity expert, who doesn’t start with the importance of establishing a vision. And, you know, I think it makes sense that they do this, because in most people’s lives, you know, we think a lot more about the present, than we do about the future, we’re worried about things we have to do at work today, picking up the kids making a sandwich, you know, watch our favorite TV show, or whatever. And, you know, we don’t think that much about the future. And even when we do think about the future, I think most of us think about, you know, discrete sort of things in the near term, like, I can’t wait to go on vacation next month, or it’s almost the weekend, or, you know, maybe you’re thinking about going to grad school next year, or something like that. But you know, and that also makes sense, because we all have impending obligations, and next things to look forward to. But But here’s the thing. I mean, I know from personal experience, and I’ll bet you do, too, that having a clear and compelling vision can be super powerful. And I think no matter where you are in life, everyone can benefit from thinking hard about where they want to be in the future. And so today, you know, my goal is to share some stories and some thoughts about the vision thing, and outline some steps that you could take, if you want to craft a writing vision in particular, and use that to start aligning your daily actions with your overall goals for down the road. So let me start with a parable that I read recently.

It’s a parable of the three bricklayers. And I read it in Angela Duckworth, wonderful book, grit. She borrows it from someone else. You know, these stories are. But anyway, the parable of the three bricklayers is short and simple. It goes like this. One day, a person comes across three people laying bricks for a building and asks each one of them in turn, what are you doing? And the first one says, I’m laying bricks. And the second one says, I’m building a church. And the third one says, I’m building the house of God. And, you know, as parables do it sort of oversimplifies but are obviously much more complex things going on. But but you get the idea here, right? That even though a person might be doing the same sort of thing that are very, very different ways to think about and feel about what we’re doing. Many of us can relate to the first bricklayer, he’s got a job, or she’s got a job, there’s land breaks, you know, I do what I do, I get paid to go home. The second person, we might think of as having a career of professional thinking of the job they’re doing right now as important to get the next job down the line. And then, of course, the final bricklayer who’s sees their work is building the house of God, we might say that person has a calling, right, and that person feels a much deeper satisfaction and a purpose when they do what they do. And, you know, I think without casting, you know, judgment, I think it’s safe to say from most of the, you know, research that gets done, just from knowing people that, you know, most people would prefer to have a sense of purpose in their daily work, whether we’re talking about your work you get paid for, or the work you do that’s unpaid, like being a parent, or being a spouse or whatever it might be. And so, you know, that’s, that’s worth thinking about. And we’re going to we’re going to come back to that in a little bit. So now I want to tell you a story on myself. And this is a longer version of a story I tell in the book. But it’s sort of my first vision quest story, as I think of it.

And so, just to for background. I finished my my PhD while I was teaching as an adjunct and was applying for full time jobs, but not having any success. And so eventually, after not getting a tenure track job, I finally took a job in the private sector and spent as it turned out, five years outside of academia working at this other organization, and for the first year or so, I, you know, although disappointed that I hadn’t gotten an academic job, I poured myself into it, it was an interesting organization focused on online training and education. It was era of sort of late 90s. And so being involved in internet based things was interesting and exciting. And I was expanding my own sort of portfolio of skills and knowledge. And for a while, it was all very exciting, very interesting. But by about two years in, I, I started to find myself not having a very good time. And by about two and a half years in, I was miserable. And so, you know, I’d come home, and I’d look in the rearview mirror, and realize that my face looked like this. And that I hadn’t realized it, I’ve just looked up. And I’m like, Who is that? Like, what is that guy, and I realized that was the way I looked every day, coming home from work. And so I was unhappy, not not a, you know, unique story. But anyway, the the fun part of the story is that my wife and I went on vacation together without the kids for once, we managed to pack them off to camp bring them on, and some other summer camp, I think, and we went camping in West Virginia, near the New River, we went, whitewater rafting did a lot of hiking is great. But the greatest part for me was one day, we were out hiking along the river somewhere. And, you know, as we do, we would talk about all sorts of things, meaning of life, and so on, so forth, kids, etc, etc, trying to reconnect with each other, because you’re so busy parenting, you know, the drill. And, you know, at one point, you know, I was sort of talking about how unhappy I was with work and feeling stuck, not knowing what else to do, you know, the way academia works is you kind of have to stay in the game publishing and getting things, you know, being in part of the academic world, or else, you know, my understanding at the time was you pretty much once you’re out, you’re never gonna get back in. So I didn’t think that was an alternative. And I, you know, unfortunately made a lot of money doing this job. And it was hard for me to imagine what else I was going to be able to do, where I could make enough money to support me and Jamie and the three kids. And so I was feeling kind of miserable, even though we’re in this beautiful spot on vacation. And, you know, Jeannie and I have a long history of having kind of division conversation. And so this turned out to be one of those times. And she asked me sort of the $64 question. At one point, she said, Well, you know, put money aside, let’s just imagine money is not an issue, and you’re not feeling trapped by that at all. What would you do next? And, and it just sort of sprung out of me. I would teach, I would go back and teach, and, you know, do my writing, and my research. And she said, well go do it. And I was like, Wait, what? No, but and she’s like, no, I will figure it out all the other stuff, you figure out how to get back into academia, and all the other stuff will will be figured out? Well, we’ll manage all that. And it was like lightning struck, I hadn’t given my self permission to reconnect with sort of my own sort of hopes and dreams, I had sort of put them away in a closet. And it was hurting, right. And that conversation, unlocked them and said, No, you know what, it’s no more time for ignoring those hopes and dreams and acting everyday as if they don’t exist, and, and that you shouldn’t be doing anything about them. Instead of doing that, get busy. Align your actions every day, with the goal that you have, which is getting attack edema as a professor, and doing your research and your writing and your teaching. And so I didn’t know how to do that. At the time, of course, I had no notion of what strategy I would use to do it. And actually, the story of how I managed to land an academic job is, is one of those nonlinear and strange, wonderful stories that I guess happens in life sometimes. And actually, it was through a meeting of, of my organization that I was working in with the chancellor at the University of Michigan Dearborn on on, you know, non academic topic at all, where it was this chance meeting with the with the chancellor, I had a brief interaction with him, where I found out that he and I had been both spent time in the same Center at the where I went

to grad school, and we are oh my gosh, that’s a small world. And, and I told my wife over the weekend, as a man, I was so incredible to have a conversation again, that made me feel like I was part of the academic world. It was just a short interaction, but it Wow, it just felt so great. And she’s like, Oh, you should go work at U of M Dearborn. That’s just down the road from us that we live in Arbor at the time 40 minutes away. I got Jeannie, you know, it doesn’t work like that. You know, there’s job posting the thing or thing you know, just call up and say Hey, can I work there? But that next Monday Just because I was thinking about it, I tuned over the U of M Dearborn website. And lo and behold, there was a job posting in political science department. Wait a minute, that’s really strange. Look at that, that job description smells a lot like me. And and, and if we hadn’t had that vision conversation, I would not have even thought about doing this. But I was so on fire about aligning my actions with getting this academic job that I emailed. The chancellor has said, Hey, it was great meeting you last week, and you know, touching base about our old stomping grounds. By the way, I just happen to see this job posting, I’m gonna apply for it, who should I talk to? And he said, Oh, you go say hi for from me to the chair of the department. And I drove over, said hi. And you know, Bada, boom, Bada bing. A little while later, I had my first tenure track academic job. None of that would have happened, it took me years to do this. I mean, it’s I took me two years of applying, finding old recommenders to write me new letters and re spiffing up my research so that I could tell people what I was working on. I mean, I did a lot of stuff, none of which I had been doing before Jean, and I had that conversation. So for me, you know, realigning, reconnecting with the vision that my essential self as Martha Beck would put it, with my actual vision, what I really wanted for my future, that will turn out to be the special sauce, the magic ingredient, for me to actually wind up being able to do what I wanted, right, there would have been no do without hope, and dream, and then plot and plan and pursue. And so for me, I you know, this example has always been kind of the first place I go, when people say, our vision, you know, not very important, I say, I know, utterly important, life changing. But But beyond that, I think, you know, if you’re trying to be a little bit more, kind of rigorous about what the specific benefits of having a vision are, I can do that, too. And so let me just sort of offer four things that I think are really good sort of benefits that we get when we have a clear vision. And we and we start to align our daily actions with that vision. And the first and sort of most obvious is happiness, and life satisfaction. You know, research is pretty clear on this people who feel like they have a clear purpose, who enjoy that purpose and feel a calling toward the work they do in life again, whether it’s paid or unpaid. These people have a great deal of life satisfaction, they’re happier in their work, they bustle when they work, right. And I know from doing the job that I didn’t, that didn’t meet my sense of purpose and vision. I remember how unhappy that made me so. So clearly, having a vision is a good recipe for happiness and life satisfaction, contentment, if you will. The second though, is your vision. If you have a clear and compelling vision, it is an incredible source of energy and motivation. As I said, when I first when the conversation with my wife unlocked by my vision, and let let it you know, rampage through my brain again, it re energized me around, reading, I started reading all my old journals started reading, you know, the new stuff coming out in the field, started reading books started doing my research again, all during, you know, you know, times when I would normally then have been doing other stuff that wasn’t particularly productive, or I would have just done nothing. And then once I had my first job, the vision I had of being this professor that I had, in my, in my mind, you know, based on role models of people I had seen being professors and said, You know what, that looks like, you know, something I’d really like to do, that gave me so much motivation and energy that I was able to, you know, get enough done through the six years to get tenure. And it’s not an easy feat, and you know, much less when you’re raising kids and doing all sorts of stuff on the side, and, and so on and so forth. But I felt buoyed by the fact that I had a very compelling to me a vision of where I want to go, I thought what I was doing was important. I thought it was exciting. I was interested in it personally, it really ticked all those boxes for me. And that just gave a pretty huge wind at my back.

Third, I think and this is really important for writers and people who do knowledge work in general. Having a clear vision, a sense of purpose, if you will, gives you the ability to be great in the moment, or to sort of be gritty, if you will. And I think you know, we all know that there are times when you’d rather be doing anything, but writing or reading or whatever it is that feels like work. It’s not always easy. Even if you love writing, it’s not always easy. So there are parts of writing Any kind of a thing that are funner than other parts, and sometimes you’re, you’re feeling sick, or you’re feeling just, you know, emotionally, you know, down or whatever it might be. But you know, you got to keep moving. How do you do that, and, and when you have a clear and compelling vision, when you have a good reason for doing something, it becomes much easier when you have a passion, it’s easier to grit out the hard parts. And, and so for me, you know, I share this all the time, this is not the last time you’ll probably hear me say this. I I am I have a visceral aversion to dealing with footnotes, and editing at the very end of finishing, I just for whatever reason, this makes my eyes want to bleed and I get grim. And how do you get through those parts of whatever project you’re working on. Without a compelling vision, if you don’t feel really pumped about where you’re trying to get to, if you don’t feel pumped about getting something published, or getting something finished? Man, I just don’t know how you’re going to get through those tough parts. And there are tough parts, parts all over in life in general, obviously, in writing, for sure. So having a good, strong vision of where you want to be, and knowing how the work you’re doing is getting you there. For me, that is a huge chunk of your ability to be great in the moment at your desk, at the coffee shop, wherever it might be. And then the fourth piece that I think is a clear and obvious benefit of having a compelling vision, a clear vision is that it can be your compass, and help you make decisions, both big ones, and smaller day to day decisions. If you you know, once I learned, you know, relearned that I wanted needed to be an academic, all of a sudden, I had a bunch of to dues that didn’t exist the day before. Right? It was clear, I needed to make big changes, I need to change my job. You know, we needed to change our house, like we won, I took an academic job we couldn’t afford the house we lived in anymore. But the vision was important to me. And my wife supported me, God bless her. She said, You know what? Well, we’ll move to a more affordable house, you’re gonna have to make big changes. And how do you know how to make those right? Your vision helps provides a compass provides direction, and then on the smaller things, right, in terms of what are the things that are going to help you get there, right. That’s what your vision helps you identify? So what are the things you need to write to get where you want to be one of the things you’re going to need to do? Do you need to go to school to get where you want to be right? It can help you answer all sorts of questions like that. Where to prioritize things, right? Well, where are you trying to get to what’s what’s your vision and compass, and then I can start to help you understand, right what the priorities need to be, and what needs to get done next. So I think those are four in there, probably more, but those are the four the ones that really stick out to me, is things where I know that I personally have benefit. And I can see other people have benefited from having a clear and compelling vision of their future, happier, more satisfied, higher energy, great motivation. Greater in the moment grittier and having a clear compass, and sort of a direction finder at all times, those are those are some really clear benefits to me of having a vision. So you say that’s all well and good. How do I figure out my vision? What if my vision is trapped in a closet like yours was? And I’m not sure what it is? And, you know, how do I know if I’m, what I’m doing today is aligned with it or not? And you know, then how do I make those changes happen? You know, that can be scary. And it’s good to have sort of recipe. And so that’s why that’s why we’re here today. So So let’s talk about crafting, crafting your vision. And since we’re here to talk about writing, I’ll we’ll start as the 12 week, year does, we’ll start big picture with your long term sort of life vision. And then we’ll neck it down, and we’ll bring it to the closer near term. And then we’ll focus in on what that means for your writing vision, and how you how you kind of come up with that.

So, let’s, we’ve been talking about vision for, you know, 10 or 15 minutes, but let’s maybe define it just a little bit before we try to craft one. And, you know, maybe I’ll have to admit there’s a little vague or fuzziness when it comes to vision because I don’t think there’s any one definition that is necessarily the best or the only but for our purposes, let’s just say that a vision is your picture or narrative of the life that you want to lead in the future. And it will include not just your work but all the important elements of the life. You Want to live? Who you live it with, where you live, what it feels like to live that life, the sorts of things you’re doing work and otherwise the people you do it with? You know, and and certainly your writing, right? Where does that all fit? Right. And I think some things that are important to think about with vision. The first is that there’s no rules. No one says, you know that your vision has to be clear to you at all times, no one says that your vision is going to stay the same your whole life, because it won’t, I think that’s almost a guarantee that your envision will evolve, what the what future state is most desirable to you is likely to shift over your life. And that will be in both maybe predictable and unpredictable ways. I think there are some stages that people go through as humans, where there are some maybe predictable ways in which vision start off, relatively more self centered, self interested. I don’t mean selfish, necessarily, but you know, young people are more self centered. Their view of the world is more organized around, you know, finding their way in the world, finding out what’s interesting enough to them to motivate themselves. And then as you get older, and you sort of become you mastered that role you become comfortable with who you are in the world, then many of us sort of either get bored, or gain the confidence to start expanding our sense of our vision and our purpose. And many, many times, of course, older people feel a sense of, I think, what’s called generativity, which is a feeling of wanting to give back. And so a lot of people as they get older, and I’m definitely include myself in this feel that their vision has begun to pivot away from a sort of single minded focus on a career, and that you start to feel more of a calling to help other people. You know, with the skills and knowledge that you have built over a lifetime, you realize, man, the most amazing thing for me now would be to help everyone else do these things in their life, so so your vision is going to shift. So you may be at a point right now, maybe that’s why you’re listening or watching is you sense that that your vision is shifting under you, under your feet. And maybe you don’t quite yet know what that next vision is going to clarify itself into. And so you know, I’m not even sure you can push a vision to come clear immediately. Sometimes you need a little noodling and soaking time with this. But at any rate, it’s worth regular bouts of self reflection to see where you are. So. So I said, your vision is going to shift it’s going to be different from when you’re young to when you’re old. And the way the 12 week years starts is to ask you first to imagine your your first step is to imagine a long term vision. And by long term, typically, we’re talking about 10 to 15 years in the future. I think that’s probably far enough, because I don’t think most of us can really productively use a vision that’s much longer term than that. I mean, if you’re 20 years old, and you’re saying, well, when I’m 75, I want to be a grandparent, and I want to live in the brochures, I mean, that’s all maybe Good to know. And maybe it will be true 50 years from now. But, you know, I’ve said this before in other venues, it’s hard to predict the future, and what you’re gonna want 50 years from now, I don’t think you know that right now. But you probably do have a better sense of what you want, sort of in the next at that next step. So if you’re in school, you may have a vision for what what does it look like? What is success? Or what is, you know, a good life? What is a great life? What is your best life feel like 10 or 15 years from now, when you’re that person that you see who’s sort of done what you think you want to do? Or is living that life that you are aspiring to, and we don’t know how it is young people don’t aspire to be 75 that they aspire to be the, you know, somewhat older kids than them who you know, I think you get the idea. So, so, thinking 10 to 15 years in the future,

right? A good first exercise is just to start making some lists. You know, what are the things you’re doing in your best life in your vision? 10 or 15 years from now? Do you have a certain kind of a job? Do you have a certain kind of a family? Do you live a certain sort of a place? What kind of work do you know, do you want to work for yourself? Do you want to work with others? I mean, you know, all those sorts of things, right? Are there important things that you will have in your life? Do you need a home? Do you need a bike? You know, what exactly are the things that you’ll you’ll have that you’ll do and that you’ll be right just to kind of cover some of the waterfront? What are your spiritual visions? What are your health, you know, and financial visions right? All you can think of no, don’t don’t hold yourself back. Again. I don’t think anyone can Tell someone else what their vision is or should look like. So you know, don’t don’t allow yourself to sort of free associate and brainstorm. But and just, you know, start to capture stuff as it as it comes to you. And as I said, I think this happens best if you’re taking a walk or having a conversation with a loved one or friend, maybe on vacation, if you can manage that, especially, of course, these days, but I always do my best thinking away from home away from the office, you know, away from the noise, where you have time to be with yourself and check in and say, Man, what do I really want, right. And I think here, too, I think, again, I’m a huge fan of Martha backs. And if you want to read a wonderful book about connecting with your vision, I really do recommend finding your own North Star, which is a book she wrote, Martha Beck is a very famous, if you don’t know or read a lot of great books, she does life design, as she calls it, life coach, coaches, coaches, and her stuff is really, really worth the read. And so I really would recommend just even the first couple of few chapters of finding your own Northstar, about sort of checking in with yourself, because a lot of us, it’s easy to get disconnected from who your essential self is, it happened to me in my late 20s and early 30s, when I was working at this other job, and you start to allow your social self, or the part of you that’s concerned about money and keeping up in a profession to make decisions that your essential self would never make any jobs your essential self doesn’t like would never want would never ask for. And of course, what we want to do with our vision is say What does my essential self want what’s really going to make me happy, what’s going to, you know, make it possible for me to get out of bed every day. And you know, be Uber excited that I get to do whatever it is, I’m going to be doing that day, that you can only figure it out by really asking your real self, what’s going on and what it wants. So I think that, you know, as a first step, making sure that you’re asking your essential self, what do you want to be happening in 10 or 15 years, that’s your first start, and and sort of try to build that picture? Again, it may not be very clear right now, and that and that could be true. If you haven’t let yourself think that far ahead. If you worry that it’s not practical, or it’s not okay, or that someone else has to authorize and bless your choices, right? put all that aside and just allow yourself to come up with a vision of what this might look like. Right? So that’s sort of step one. And maybe it’s step two, then is to say, all right, when I have this vision, I’m looking at on a piece of paper. And, you know, maybe you’ve written yourself a narrative version of that. So that list of ideas, and you know, in 10 or 15 years, I want to be living in a cooperative community, with a group of like minded people, you know, working on the earth, and then writing, you know, a memoir, in my spare time, I mean, you know, whatever, you know, whatever it is, if you have a narrative, right, and then the next thing to ask yourself is, what kind of alignment is there between that vision that I’ve uncovered? And what I’m doing today? Right? I mean, what’s the, you know, is it is it, you know, that you have a pretty good idea of where you’re trying to get to, and you’re, you’re busy doing most of the things that you would need to do to get there, if so, you know, way to go, good job. But think for a lot of us, and a lot of times, there’s some important disconnects, there are things that we could be doing should be doing, would like to be doing that for some reason we’re not doing and so the first thing you need to do is sort of figure that out, right? Is what I’m doing now gonna get me where I’m going. And my wife and I laugh all the time. Our second child Spence gave us the the perfect lesson about that one day, he was very little kid.

He’s just a few years old, and he’s playing a video game. And his he wasn’t winning, he was playing a racing game of some sort with Lego racing or something. And he was in second place. And he had been second place for a little while, and I don’t remember why we were watching, but we were. And he said, If I keep doing what I’m doing, I’m going to lose. And we’re blown away by the wisdom of children, you know, which is to say, he realized that what he was doing was good enough to be in second place, but it wasn’t gonna win. So he needed to figure out something new, if you want to win. And man, that’s such a good lesson for life, isn’t it? If you want to get somewhere and you’re not doing anything different, you probably you know, you may not get there, right? It’s not pointing the right direction. You’re gonna need to change directions. So the first thing is to figure it out, sort of like a list of things roughly, that might need changing. If you’re going to get where you want to go. Do you need to go to school? Do you need move? Do you need to, you know, find a significant other, you know, do you need to leave at six Another, you know, people find themselves in all sorts of places. Sometimes big changes are needed. Sometimes it’s little ones. But you know, that’s the part that’s the goal of this sort of step is to sort of start thinking about what are the candidates for things that I could change to bring myself into better alignment with my long term vision. And then a third step is then to kind of craft an intermediate vision. So we’ve done the big thing about 10 or 15 years, whatever that sort of a next stage where I sort of think of it as the culmination of my current stage of life, right? Because that’s about as far I think ahead. As we can imagine ourselves, you know, where’s that end me up? What’s my best version of how that ends? But, but we got to get there. And so the next step, right, we started taking a look at some of the changes we might need to make. And the next thing to do is to come up with an intermediate vision somewhere in the next one to three years, somewhere like that, where you say, all right, if that’s the direction I want to go, you know, that’s going to mean I need to get there along some path. And where are some early markers that are going to be things that need to happen? So for example, like I said, you know, do you need to go to school is one thing you need to do in the next couple of years get a degree, or do you need to publish a book or something in the next couple of years to get whatever it is you’re trying to do to happen? Those things are important, because 10 or 15 years is too far away, you can’t play on that, even two or three years from now, you can’t work on right now. But But if something is going to happen in a couple years, typically, you’re going to need to start it now. And so your intermediate, you know, sort of vision is going to be a little more concrete, it’s going to be something where you can more easily see the tasks that you’re going to need to manage to get there. So I need to apply to school, I need to go to school, I need to finish all that sort of stuff. Right? And so the third step, then is create this intermediate. And now fourth step is, let’s bring the writing back end, because we haven’t talked about that in a little while. Right? So the first big key to me, for people who are writers, is to figure out where does writing really fit in all of this? So when you did your first long term vision, you know, how often did writing come up? Right? Where was that? In your long term vision? Where was it in your intermediate vision, as you were writing down things that you were doing things that you were being? Right, where, where did writing fit in those? Right, and I think, you know, if we bring back the parable of the bricklayers, right, we can use that as as sort of one kind of way to, to test where writing sits in our, our hierarchy of vision and purpose and all that sort of stuff. So for some people writing is a job, right? They you ask what they’re doing on writing report for work, they don’t do it, because they love it, they don’t do it, because they even like it, they just do it because they have to do it, they get paid to do it. Right. And maybe, you know, maybe that’s why you’re, you know, listening to me is that you want help getting the stuff you have to write, you’re trying to get it done. Great. Good to know, right? On the other hand, you might look at writing in a more career, or professional sense. Maybe writing is helping you get where you want to go. So maybe you are writing a regular newsletter to become seen as an expert and build your reputation in order to do something to build a company or whatever. So you know, writing is important to you, you may enjoy it. But it’s it’s still a tool, it’s a means to an end, that’s more important to you than just the writing good to know. Or for some of you, of course, I think writing is going to feel more like a calling something that you have to do I have stories that the world needs to hear.

I’m going to make people feel better when they read my stuff. I’m going to help change the world. Because my arguments are going to help influence debates, right? You may have a purpose and a calling. Right? And that may be what motivates you to write. And I think an equally important thing to know, as you start to craft your writing vision is to ask yourself, Is my writing something I do as part of my professional world? Or is it something I do as part of my personal world? Not every writer gets paid to write. Some of some people don’t want writing to be something they get paid for. Or at least not primarily, right? Some people don’t want to quit the day job they want to write. They don’t want to be Have you ever had that where you have some hobby or something you’re really good at that you do in your spare time. Like my wife, gardens, and she creates these beautiful gardens wherever we live. And you know, very often people say oh, you should do that for a living. Am I like at Nope, I would not enjoy it. If I did it for a living. I don’t Have you paid for this, this is something that’s private for me that I enjoy doing this way. Under these circumstances. That’s what brings me greatest joy. So for some people, I think writing is like that. It’s something that brings them great joy. But they never want the pressure of dealing with the marketplace, marketing, publishing with publishers, and all that sort of stuff. Maybe that’s exactly what you don’t want. Right? And that, that is important to know. But on the other hand, of course, maybe you do want to write for money, maybe you want to be a full time writer who makes their living from their writing, it’s so great. But the key is to know this, right? That’s where we want to get to with your writing vision, we want to know what kind of writer you are. Where does writing fit in your life? How is it getting you where you want to go? Is it is the writing where you want to go? Or is the writing something you’re using to get somewhere, right, that’s bigger than writing but involves writing, I think these are the things you want to really know. Because, again, if you’re going to try to align your daily actions and your plans, with these visions, you need to know where everything fits in the priority system. Because when we move forward in the book, and we talked about the model week, and aligning your time with the plan, right, your plan should reflect your overall priorities in terms of your life vision. So if your writing is something that you’ve identified through this process of You know what, it’s my calling, right now, it’s not my full time job, but I want it to be that’s what I’m trying to get, then that implies that you need to deal with your time, a certain way. And that you need to be doing certain things, that would be very different. If you said, Well, I feel a calling to write, but I don’t need it to be my full time thing I’m going to fit it in on the side, right, those are two very different visions, and would would lead to two very different ways of making sort of use of your time. And so you need to be clear about those things. Or else, you’re always going to feel like you’re not quite doing it right when it comes to making plans and schedules, and so on, so forth. So, so where does writing fit in your overall long term goals? And how is it gonna help you get toward your intermediate goals. And the reason you do all that work, right, and figure out that writing vision is because now your fifth step is with all of this in hand, you can now take your vision, and start to identify with it, what the next things you’re going to write are, right, and maybe you’re not a person who has trouble doing that, maybe that’s never been an issue, you always know it, the next thing you want to write is great. If so no problem there, you’re already aligned. But for those of us who need to, and some of us maybe like me, are a little more happy or comfortable with a block and tackling approach to things I like planning, it makes me happy and comfortable. So I like I like going through the exercise of saying, alright, what am I trying to go? What were what are the near term things that I want to happen that I think are best positioning me to get there? And to get to that place? to do those best? What are my options, I could write this I could write that I can write this. But each of those I can now judge based on how well I think it’s going to get me to that next step or getting me what I want. Next, right and just you know, full disclosure, I’m, I’m a writer, I don’t, I don’t feel like for me, like I’m not a fiction writer, I don’t feel like sharing my stories with the world is is a calling. When I was younger,

I absolutely did feel like writing was a calling. I felt like I felt a moral imperative. Because I grew up during the Cold War, I felt the moral imperative to study national security and national security issues and to write about them in a way that I helped, I hoped would help end the Cold War, and then antibiotics in grad school. But then that I hoped would bring about greater international peace. And I’ve been doing that ever since. But But you know what, my vision has started shifting. And so as I enter the next phase of my life, and you know, my wife and I are facing the sort of empty nest syndrome now we’re trying to figure out what’s next. And we’re seeing retirement is kind of this next, sort of the end of the current stage that we’re in is we’re gonna retire somewhere. What do we want that to be like? What do I want to be doing? What do I want to have? How do I want it to feel I’m dealing with all those questions right now. And for me, my vision about where writing fits has shifted. I no longer feel called to write about international security in the same way. I now feel a greater calling to help people reach their goals by helping them in various and sundry ways, such as helping them be productive writers. And so for me, I guess you could say writing has shifted from a calling to more of the sort of tool to help me get where I want to go. Still really important to me. And but it changes what I’m I’m going to write how I’m going to write. It’s, it’s had a big shift on all those things. So. So that’s why I think you need to go through all those steps of visioning long term, intermediate term sort of align, how am I alignment, thinking about where writing fits and where it’s taking you and how you know how it’s doing that. And then that helps you figure out, hey, time to write a book about writing, or Hey, time to write that next novel, or whatever it might be. Okay? So, recapping, vision, your view of, or your narrative, your picture of the best future, for yourself that you will be living in in, say, 10 or 15 years or at the end of the next stage of this stage of your life. Right. I think, you know, all the philosophers, life coaches and productivity gurus agree that having a strong, compelling vision is essential for being a happy, motivated, productive, greedy, great in the moment person who is able to make plans that effectively move them in the direction of their dreams, right? If you don’t have a vision, you don’t have a compass. If you don’t have a compass, you can’t make plans that take you somewhere on purpose. And I think we’re all trying to go is better places, right? And so, I think taking time to do the vision thing isn’t just a good use of time. It’s one of the highest leverage uses of time you could possibly have. So good luck with the vision thing. I look forward to hearing from you guys in the comments. And until we meet again, happy writing

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