Yes, You Can Change Your Life!

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Yes, You Can Change Your Life!

I belong to a little community gym about a mile from my house. Normally the place is pretty low key until the first two weeks of January each year. All of a sudden it’s like the place is transformed into a weight-watchers’ convention. Then about February everything goes back to normal again.

I do understand all the good intentions.  Year after year, I used to make a list at the beginning of January with all kinds of resolutions. Then another year would roll by and I’d tell myself, “This is really going to be the year change is going to happen. And then a few weeks later – well you know.

Lots of people make resolutions for change, but very few follow through. Why is that? I don’t believe it is a lack of will power or desire. Instead, I believe most of us actually set ourselves up for failure. We don’t take the time to create a solid vision for change, and we fail to develop a clear action plan for accomplishing our vision.

If you don’t have a clear vision and a solid map for where you want to go, you’ll likely still be in the same place next year, and even in five years. That’s sort of like thinking you should do something fun on your vacation, but when it comes around, you have no idea what you want to do and no money to do it with. Then you go back to work with nothing but “could have-should have” regrets.

Creating a clear vision and an action plan is really very similar to what a lot of teachers do when they help a child learn to write. The teacher provides a clear vision of what good writing looks like with examples and then breaks down the process into measurable components. Each component is described according to where the child might be on her writer’s journey. The beauty of this approach is that success becomes a process rather than simply a matter of succeeding or failing.

At one time I trained teachers all over the United States learn how to use a system like the one I’ve described. Not only did this system help teachers track the progress of their students, it actually helped students become better writers. Why? Because students could see what success “looked like” and could see their progress each step of the way.

Years later it occurred to me that this same type of system could help me make some of the changes in my own life that had been eluding me such as losing weight and developing an encore plan so I can actually retire within the next couple of years.

First I realized I needed a clear vision of what I wanted my life to “look like” within the next couple of years. Then I needed to identify and describe measurable components for each step of my journey. What I have created for myself is a vision, a personal mission, and a measurable action plan (M.A.P.).

The tool I use for myself is easy to use and easy to modify. Developing a clear vision took a lot of work. I did a lot of reflecting and also attended a visual journaling workshop to get in touch with my intuitive side ( I also thought about my values and what was important to me. Once I had a vivid image of my life destination, I wrote a mission statement for myself –how I was going to bring about my vision. Then drafted my first map and then tested and tweaked it until it worked for me.

I print a copy of my vision map each day. Every evening before I go to bed, I circle the descriptions that best describe my progress. I also make brief notes below the map. I spend about 2-3 minutes each night tracking my progress.  I’m pleased to say I’ve finally lost seven pounds within the last three months, and I have a clear encore plan. My future retirement is on track.

While it takes work, creating a clear vision of what you want your life to look like in a year or in five years will increase the likelihood of living that life. Then if you create a personal mission related to your vision and develop a measurable action plan (M.A.P) you will discover you have the power to make the positive changes you want to make in your life.

In future posts, I’ll provide more specific information on how to create your own maps for personal or collective changes.  Yes, you can change your life!


I am an associate professor of communication in Southern Oregon. I'm also an ancient spirit who has learned how to create positive changes in my own life and use unexpected changes to become more of the person I believe I am meant to be. My vision is to help empower others by sharing how to dream big and develop measurable action steps to achieve those dreams.

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