Vision-building has been a corporate practice for decades. For business experts, having a clear, effective corporate vision is the starting place for success. Not having a vision leads to lack of focus, clarity and performance. So if visions do great things for corporations, how can they work for people?
Let's start with what a vision is. Business consultant Donald Cooper describes a business vision as "a clear and measurable statement of what we [the business] commit to become to be a profitable and responsible market leader in 3 to 5 years". With a few minor modifications, we arrive at a definition of a wellness vision: "a clear and compelling statement of what I commit to become (who I am, what I am doing), when living my ideal state of health and wellness". Attempting to navigate the road towards healthy lifestyle change without a vision is akin to driving aimlessly without a destination. No matter how versed you are in navigation (or how knowledgeable about health), you can't succeed without knowing where you're trying to go.
Wellness visions are energizing, compelling and focused. They require that we clarify our priorities and get specific about what we're working towards. This clear and self-generated picture of success enables us to strategize with actions we want to pursue and craft a plan that we actually want to adhere to. While having a vision doesn't guarantee success, it's much more likely to generate sustainable change than haphazard engagement in health and wellness programs. In fact, research has shown that employees who were highly engaged in their work with a Certified Wellness Coach enjoyed significant improvements in a variety of health, wellness and employer return on investment metrics. The coaching sessions used in this study were dedicated to building and pursuing a wellness vision (1 out of the 4 sessions provided to the intervention group was dedicated to creating a vision, the rest to achieving it) providing powerful insight into how well visions work.
So, in the absence of a corporate wellness coaching program, how can you create a wellness vision on your own? The following tips should get you started:
1. Make a Well-"Being" Wish List
For many people, to-do lists are an indispensable way of ensuring that important tasks aren't forgotten. A Well-Being Wish List similarly reminds you of what you want to accomplish in terms of your health and wellness. To begin, imagine how, in a best case scenario, you would think, feel and act if you were living at your most healthy and well. What would you be like? How would you feel? How would you interact with others? You may choose to make a list of paragraphs, short statements, or just single words. The purpose is to give some thought to what "wellness" feels and looks like in order to make it specific, tangible, personal and inspiring. I have clients who chose to express their entire vision as a concise, powerful list of words. Don't limit yourself with technical distractions: just get your ideas down on paper.
2. Create a Vision Board
More creative and visual people may enjoy building a vision board. An added bonus of a vision board is that when you choose to display it (likely in a private space they visit regularly), it continues to generate the motivation, excitement and level of commitment generated during its creation. Much like the way an elite athlete practices visualization before competition, visions are much more powerful when they are revisited regularly and become a familiar source of focus and motivation. An easy how-to for creating vision boards has been published in the Huffington Post, and a quick online search can easily provide any additional information needed to get started. Getting a group of like-minded friends or colleagues together is a fun social activity, and provides the added bonus of creating an ongoing support network and accountability framework that everyone in the group can enjoy!
3. Hire a Guide
Whereas some people prefer to work independently, others may feel more motivated to create a personal vision if they have individualized support and guidance. The ideal guide is someone who knows how to focus completely on the person vision-building; providing input and advice is definitely not helpful. While Certified Health and Wellness Coaches and other trained professionals are excellent sources of support, providing a trusted friend or family member with information on vision building (again, an online search will provide a wide variety of information) may be enough. Once a trusted support person has been recruited, equip them with information on the purpose of a wellness vision, a list of powerful questions, and a few examples of what vision statements sound and feel like. Schedule to meet at a time when neither party will be rushed and at a place that is comfortable and private.
Author Bio: Simone Olinek is a Certified Exercise Physiologist, Certified Health and Wellness Coach and has a post-graduate degree in Adapted Physical Activity. Simone uniquely blends her education and experience to move employees forward in making healthy lifestyle change. Visit her website and Facebook page for more information.
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Yours in health,