Step 4 of ODDER Being: Embody Your Vision Every Day
A simple guide for decision making
Life is a chain mail of decisions. Some of them are big, such as deciding to say yes to a job, or no to a relationship, and some are teeny-tiny, like deciding what to have for breakfast. Many of them are related, and together they make sure that you’ve got what it takes to make it through another day. And, as with chain mail, the better the combination of links fits you, the more comfortable your day is going to be.
The fourth step in ODDER being is the E of embodying your vision. Essentially, it’s about making sure all of the links are working together for the end result you’re envisioning for yourself.
The weakest link
A chain mail protects you only as good as the weakest link (this might not technically be true – I have to admit my knowledge of medieval warfare is a bit off). The same is true for your life. The things that are our weak link take up our energy. Imagine having the most amazing job in the world, but spending hours a week on managing conflicts with your family. That’s a lot of energy draining out of you. Now, imagine you wouldn’t have this leak, whether in your family life, your relationship, your job or your finances… What energizing part of your life would you be able to spend you energy on instead?
The easiest way to spot your weak links is by comparing your vision to your actual life. What parts of your life don’t match up with your vision? For instance, in my vision, I do a lot of indoor climbing, but in real life, I lack the strength and stamina. Trying to push myself beyond what my body is capable of, has actually resulted in some injuries. Talk about energy drainers!
Time to identify your weakest links!
What are some areas of your life that drain you?
Now you may have heard of the serenity prayer, and it goes something like this:
“Oh, Flying Spaghetti Monster, please grant me the courage to change the things I cannot accept, the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Sometimes, you’ll find that a big part of your weak link is in trying to change something you can’t accept, instead of accepting something you can’t change. For instance, you might spend time and money on trying to win the approval of a person who simply doesn’t like you and never will. And sometimes, it’s the other way around. You find yourself staying with a partner or a job you’re never going to enjoy.
What about your weak links? Are they something you can’t accept, or something you can’t change?
And would it be easier (and better for your mental health and energy levels) to change them or to accept them?
New links: building your dream life
There’s a famous quote (that’s been attributed to different people, like Henry Ford, and Jessie Porter):
“If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got.”
If your life doesn’t align with your vision yet, you’ll need to start doing some things differently, whether it’s fixing weak or broken links, or building some entirely new ones.
This is where your vision becomes a super powerful tool that will help you guide your decision making. To illustrate how this works, I’d like to tell you what happened to me in my early years of freelancing.
When I was just starting out as a self-employed person, I had few clients and less money. New opportunities were everything. After a while, I got approached by an independent recruiter who had an interesting UX opportunity. I agreed to meet with the company he was recruiting for, and the meeting went well, but I didn’t hear back from the recruiter. In fact, every time I’d contact him, he’d drag his feet, and eventually told me I wasn’t the only candidate he introduced. In the end, I reached out to the company directly and asked whether they wanted me on board. The CEO said that while he enjoyed meeting me, he didn’t feel like paying the recruiter. Would I be willing to work with the company directly, without involving the recruiter?
This was a tough choice to make. On one hand, I could really use the project. On the other, it didn’t feel like a particularly ethical thing to do. On the third (yes, this was a more-than-two-handed monstrosity), the recruiter certainly wasn’t doing his part, so did I have any moral obligations towards him at all? For me, this moral dilemma was one of the tipping points: the moment I realized I had to have a vision for myself and my business to guide me.
I actually took a few days to get clear on what I envisioned. Once I did, the choice was a clear one: I politely declined the offer – going behind (even a lousy) recruiter’s back wasn’t who I wanted to be. But I didn’t just make that particular decision. I also took notes for the future: were I ever to allow a recruiter to represent myself in the future, I’d establish some ground rules. This lesson has served me well in the years to come.
When you’re faced with a decision, using your vision as a compass will help you gain clarity. Just ask yourself:
Which of the paths you’re choosing from will bring you closest to the person you want to be and the life you want to have?
This works miracles for complicated and simple stuff alike. Knowing I want to be healthy helps me guide my food choices, knowing I want to be a good partner helps me invest in my relationship, and knowing I really believe a clear vision is an amazing tool to have is the reason I’m writing this blog!
Are you facing any dilemmas, big or small? What choices would bring you closer to your vision?