dreaming

The Visioning Stage of Transitions and Why You Don't Want to Skip It

In this theory of the stages in transitions, we reach the Visioning stage after moving through the previous stage, Death, The Unknown and Rebirth. We grieved our loss(es), are aware of what we are letting go of and cleared space for what’s next. We begin to feel re-energized and ready to dream our future. Visioning is a process that picks us up out of today and puts us someplace in our future, in our imaginary ideation of fulfillment. We use the right side of our brain when we vision, the part of our mind that is abstract, creative, intuitive, imaginative and sees the whole picture, rather than the left-sided linear, concrete, analytical brain.

Visioning brings into our awareness what lies deep in our core: our core values, our core truth, our creative energy, what gives us joy and peace of mind. We become aware of our intuition, paying attention to what our mind, body and spirit are telling us, listening for their whispers, shouts and aches.

Visioning is a helpful tool, especially when we find dreaming a challenge. Many of us want to get into action mode, to plan and do stuff, to feel that we’re moving things forward and accomplishing. Honouring this stage in our transition, especially when we let go of our past story and identity, and create space for the new to be imagined and intuited, is a powerful process maybe even transformative.

Emily Carr, “Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky”
Emily Carr, “Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky”

When Canadian artist Emily Carr painted “Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky” in 1935, she was 63 years old. She wrote:

“There is nothing so strong as growing. Nothing can drown that force that splits rocks and pavement and spreads over fields...Life is in the soil. Touch it with air and light and it bursts forth like a struck match."

As children we visioned our dreams all the time. We pictured ourselves being and living our dreams. We are born with this ability to dream a spectacular future. The stage of Visioning is an opportunity to re-visit old dreams, resolve our disappointment and explore how we can fulfill their essence now.

I had one client who was going through both a career transition and a life stage transition, wondering “What’s next?” After clarifying her core personal values, I led her through a guided visioning (imagining) exercise. A clear picture came to her: of where she wanted to live, of her community and who was surrounding her, of how she wanted to feel, of what she wanted her lifestyle to be. She took gradual steps to make that vision become a reality. She emailed me recently,

“It was quite an undertaking and a huge transition. I remember waking up early one morning thinking, 'What the heck have I done?' When I doubt that I made the right decision, I remind myself about the core values that are so important in getting me back on the right path.”

It does not always happen that way. Another client going through a career transition drew a complete blank when he visioned his future self. He felt disappointed that he saw nothing, and that turned out to be a great launch pad for him. He learned about his intuition and grew it, discovering what and who resonated for him and what resonance felt like. He gradually trusted himself to try all kinds of new experiences, making choices that aligned with his core values, his passions, needs and strengths. He knew his present Purpose and built a successful business. What surprised him is that he has also grown his social network, feeling like he has found his tribe. He said, “I know it will be okay. My self-confidence keeps growing and I trust myself. I trust the Universe.”

Here are several different ways to vision.

  1. Attend a guided visioning workshop led by a life coach. There are in-person and virtual events. Check out the International Coach Federation Credentialed Coach Finder. I do offer occasional visioning workshops and individual visioning sessions, usually based on a theme, e.g. the New Year, retirement, career, health/wellness.
  2. Create a dream (vision) board, a collection or collage of images, text, meaningful quotes, poems, personal values that connect to your dream, your yearnings. It is not intended to be an artistic or crafty experience although it might be, and it will likely stir your creative and intuitive juices even more. You might want to create a scrap-book of personal visions for different aspects of your life.
  3. Write your vision in story format can be anyone who enjoys words, writing or writing stories.
  4. Write vision lists. The infamous “Bucket List” is exactly that, a list of your dreams. You can give it another snazzy title of course. I’ve tried this and it became so huge that I created categories. Then there’s Jerry Seinfeld’s take on the bucket list, “I made a bucket list, turned the "b" to an "f" and was done with it.” There’s also that.
  5. Watch films including documentaries that inspire visioning. Documentary and biographical films are great visioning tools. 15 Reasons To Live is one example. And there’s always *the* film, The Bucket List.
  6. Read books that inspire you to dream. Biographies and non-fiction like Callings by Gregg Levoy, and Martha Beck’s North Star.
  7. Notice what energizes you, makes you come alive, gives you pleasure and gives you thrills.
  8. Understand where and how intuition signals to you in your body.
  9. Travel. It’s a way to get out of your past story and identity very powerfully and see your life and yourself from a different vantage point.
  10. Be your own fortune-teller or astrologer. Look into your crystal ball or imagine your annual horoscope. What do you see? Write it down!
  11. Notice metaphors and symbols that come into your awareness and intuition, i.e. token animals.

Allow yourself to dream, intuit, yearn, create, and be inspired. Give yourself permission to dream, again.

A Dream Is Born

“Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born.” Dale E. Turner

A new dream was born twenty-five years ago. It happened as though a tiny kernel of curiosity popped somewhere inside me. A friend introduced a new country, Nepal, to me when he talked about travelling there for his work. He spoke of Nepal and the Nepalese people with great respect, warmth and love. It created a great impression on me that he looked forward to traveling to Nepal every year, like an annual pilgrimage.

Years later a new dream of trekking the Annapurna Sanctuary in Nepal was born. I can’t quite recall exactly how it happened. Most likely it was after seeing a photograph of the magnificent Himalayas or reading about it. I don’t recall learning about the trek from anyone — it seemed that no one from my network of friends and acquaintances knew anything about it.

The dream of seeing and trekking the Annapurna Range lay dormant for years. I came up with the usual reasons for not going through with it: “I don’t have the money”, “I don’t have the time”, “it will be too hard”, “it will cost too much”, etc. Sound familiar?

Years went by like that.

And then one day I came across a travel agency that specialized in adventure travel. They offered talks about treks, including the Annapurna Sanctuary. So I went to find out more. I learned about all kinds of things: about the land, the weather, the topography, the supplies to bring, the clothing that would be helpful, how to prepare myself for trekking and for altitude. There were people in the audience who were leaving a few months and even weeks later — which inspired me and roused my “journey envy”. I wanted to go too!

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What is it inside of us that dreams our big dreams?

Is it the desire to grow and be challenged? Maybe it is the yearning for inspiration and excitement? Or is it our curiosity being aroused and kindled? Perhaps it is our spirit wanting to experience awe? Sometimes it might be our courage daring us to be bold Our wanting to be masterful? Our wanting to leave ourselves or to leave our lives? Wanting a change? Wanting to change? Wanting something new, something unfamiliar, something unknown?

“Nothing happens unless first we dream.” Carl Sandburg

 

The birth of our childhood dreams can feel very different from our adulthood dreams. As kids, our dreams seem to be born from a magical place of innocence, wonder, naiveté and joy. Adult dreams are born from other places too; from experience, wisdom, loss, pain and even tragedy. I know that it was during my dad’s illness when I knew that this dream of mine really had to happen. Now or never.

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Is it our dream or someone else’s? Our intuition, our heart and inner voice know whether we are doing it for ourselves or for someone else or because of someone else. If we continue to pay attention to the dream no matter what, it is ours. If we continue to pursue the dream no matter what anyone says or doesn’t say, it is ours. If we keep our dream alive without others’ validation or approval, then it is definitely ours.

When a dream is kindled, it is our edge calling us forth, our soul craving fulfillment, our inner self wishing to grow, out of our comfort zone and into the fullness of who we know we are and can be.

What was the last dream you gave birth to? How did you conceive of it? Is it time for a new dream?