Anti-vision — an aid to dreaming big

Photo by Jane Carmona on Unsplash

Creating a vision for the life you want can feel like a daunting task, kinda like a tug of war between your fantasies and reality — with you as the rope.

Getting past your current reality and ignoring any perceived limitations require a lot of deliberate practice. You will need to train your mind to always find solutions and loopholes no matter how rigid a situation seems — having that child-like mindset where anything is possible.

So say you have decided to take control of your life and create the life you desire. You read somewhere that penning your dreams, goals, vision, or anything at all you want to achieve is the first step to manifestation, so here you are, ready to set some goals for 2022.
You imagine going on at least two vacations this year because you are dying to see the world and you know life is short. However, before that dream even gets a chance to stand, the reality of your current account balance has bulldozed it, and your brain pulls you back into a state of “realistic dreams only please”.

But are dreams really considered dreams if they are within reach? Dreams ought to be unrealistic and out of reach, they ought to push you to step out of the norm and imagine the impossible, tasking your mind to break limits and find ways to make them possible. I’m a strong believer that the universe has a way of rewarding those who dare to dream big.

How then do you get past these reality “checkpoints” and start dreaming big?

Honestly, I can’t say I’ve cracked the code, but here’s a tip that might help you — start with an “anti-vision”.

People who have a hard time articulating what they want usually have no trouble spelling out what they do not want. An anti-vision is the opposite of what you want for your life. Think of it as a terrible incident from the future that only you have the power to stop or a cry for help from your future self which you cannot ignore.

For example, an anti-vision for someone’s career might look like this:

“It’s December 2022, I hate my job, I have no clear vision for my career and no sense of fulfillment whatsoever. My income is so low that I can barely save, invest, or engage in any recreational/fun activities. I am barely surviving and my mental health is hanging by a thread, I have become a shadow of myself. Sometimes I have to borrow money from friends and family to meet urgent needs and its beginning to negate my sense of worth”

Just reading that terrifies me! However, I think that is the purpose of an anti-vision. It ought to terrify and motivate you to start plotting out ways to stop it from becoming a reality.

From your anti-vision, you can then flip it into what you want. I prefer to write visions in the form of a story because stories are more digestible and relatable, moreover, the human mind is wired for storytelling.

For example, a vision story drafted from the anti-vision may look like this:

“It’s the end of 2022 and my career has taken a complete turn for good. I am killing it at work and consistently seeking out growth opportunities. My professional network is evolving, my colleagues, peers, and bosses/clients think of me as resourceful, valuable, and trustworthy and therefore have no hesitation introducing me to their circle. I manage my time effectively, and I know how and when to set priorities and boundaries for work so I don’t feel worn out and other aspects of my life do not suffer. I have a well-balanced and fulfilling work life. My income is more than enough to take care of my needs and even those of my friends and family who need support. I am in a really happy place and optimistic for what’s to come in 2023.”

Phew! Much better! The vision story is more like an outcome, you still have to break it down into a list so that it is easier to tackle each one and set clear actionable goals.

And oh, here’s another tip…

Reframe each listed vision as a question.

Once you start reframing your visions as questions, your mind also gets to work. It begins to spread its wings, searching for answers everywhere and anywhere, even while you sleep (no kidding). Write down everything that comes to mind and edit them later. Don’t kill your mind’s vibe by crossing out what is possible or not possible without letting it run its full course. Soon enough you’ll have enough answers from where you can draft clear actionable goals that will set you on course for your vision.

For example, say this is a vision list item:
My career takes a turn for good.”

A reframed question might look like this:

“How does my career take a positive turn? what do I need to do to make this happen?”

Possible answers might look like this:

Get a new job in my current field or another field but one that is better aligned with my interests”
“Research available opportunities and the skill sets that are required, then evaluate my current skills to ascertain what skills I need to improve or acquire to be better positioned for these opportunities.”

And clear actionable goals could be:

  1. Take X certification courses for skills XYZ
  2. Attend ABC events bi-weekly to network and expand my professional circle

And so on.. but be sure to include realistic timelines and don’t overwhelm yourself with too many goals at once.

I hope you found these tips useful, and if you have anything to add or subtract, I would love to hear from you please — we are all students of life.




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Jane Effanga

Jane Effanga

Product Designer & problem-solver on a lifelong learning journey. I transitioned from engineering to finance & then fashion; now learning & practicing UXdesign.