to envision, v.
1. to imagine as future possibility, to visualize
imagination is an essential ingredient in the project of human transformation; every goal we set ourselves is the product of the potential inside of us to be able to see something new, something changed, something innovated. the capacity to envision ourselves + our worlds differently is the seed that germinates into full flourishing.
to grow, we need a vision.
as teens + adults, our imaginations don’t get nearly enough exercise; our dreaming ability atrophies as we get more concerned with more “practical realities” in our “grown up” worlds.
our imagination muscles need to be stimulated, strengthened, rebuilt, especially if we want to make transformation happen—
+ an amazing tool for this?
language. grammar, of the verb tenses variety, specifically.
paying attention to + shifting the tenses with which we speak + write about our health + our lives can provide us not just with invaluable information about ourselves + our health + values; it can actually give us with the power to make meaningful change.
the past, present, + future tense each play a key role in the process.
+ unpacking each in the context of how it impacts how we tell our unique health story (see below)— that’s potent stuff.
the past: i was.
while we don’t dwell in the past as much as in coaching as in more therapeutic work, the past is important to the process because it provides crucial data about how a person has shaped + been shaped by her life experience. it’s the background for the story she tells about herself + her health, + as such is rich with opportunity to increase self-knowledge + to gain valuable insight into personal tendencies, passions, challenges, + strengths.
the present: i am.
the present is where a person currently finds herself, the crucial place + time where she is experiencing a need or a desire for change, for a mini-or a major metamorphosis. she speaks here about herself in the present tense, taking inventory of the realities of her situation + its particular challenges + opportunities. she takes an honest, compassionate, curious approach to looking at herself, + from this place can determine what she might want to keep, to modify, or to let go of.
the future: i will be.
the future is the vision for the possible. it’s the home of hope + the canvas for creating a life for a more vibrant self. it provides both the roadmap + the reason for someone to make meaningful, successful changes to achieve her optimal health. spending time designing + developing a multifaceted, authentic vision strengthens + makes “sticky” a person’s motivation to move toward this future.
often, when we play around with thinking about the future, we distance it— we keep it in the dreaming stage + as a result, we never get a chance to try it on for size. we decide to begin tomorrow, to say “in the future, i will do different, be different.” the gulf between today + tomorrow is what’s keeping us safe from the risks it takes make even the tiniest changes. if we can always push the desires for our future self into the domain of “someday” then we’ll never actually get to that vision.
so how to break that pattern?
that’s what we’re up to in this inaugural “flourishing” week.
you’re going to write about your future. you’re going to describe, in exquisite, multi-sensory detail the vision for your future health + happiness, the vision for your life.
now, if you’re looking for a place to begin, try addressing each area of the wheel of health— this can be a really useful tool!
describe the basics of your life— the what + who + where + when + how— you can even begin to get at the “why” if you wish! be as specific as possible. + dream big, using the parameters of the past + the present to inform your vision, but not to define it.
here's the catch, though: you’re going to write your future in the present tense.
instead of writing, “in ten years, i will be ten pounds lighter, will have been promoted to manager, will have gotten married to a partner whom i adore, will be living in a small but comfortable apartment, + will be exercising regularly + practicing yoga two times a week.”
write, “i am ten pounds lighter, i have been promoted to manager, i am married to a partner whom i adore, i live….” (you get the picture).
why do this?
well, writing ourselves into the flourishing future we want is the first step toward actually getting there. until we see + feel ourselves in that future, until we inhabit it + explore it in present now terms, it will always be outside of us.
so, what’s stopping you?
make your own time machine— a piece of paper, a pen. harness your power, + turn the possible into the present.
for nearly a decade, greta nelson has worked with women + girls in myriad capacities; she brings this kaleidoscope of skill, experience, + energy to active voice. she is a graduate of duke university's integrative health coaching program + holds a master's degree in english education from columbia university teachers college. in addition, she is a practicing educator, writing clinician, + e~ryt 500 certified yoga instructor. greta synchronizes expertise with passion to be a guide, an advocate, + a sister in support to each every one of her clients.