“What Do You Want?” The Smallest, Hardest Question—Creating Your Vision (Day 4)

In the movie “Up In the Air,” there’s a scene in which George Clooney’s character talks to a friend on the phone following a difficult article-1243187-07D8F41D000005DC-807_468x424encounter.  It’s been a real wakeup call for him, and the friend says, “Ryan, what do you want?”  With a confused look on his face, he says nothing.  His friend finally responds, “You have no idea, do you.”

“What do you want?”  Sounds like a simple question, but my experience is that it is one of the most difficult questions for people to answer honestly and clearly.  They have absolutely no trouble ticking of the laundry list of things they don’t want.  But when pressed with, “Okay, but what do you want?” they respond like Ryan Bingham.  Speechless and dumbstruck.

If you want to make your work+life fit a reality, you have to have a general understanding or picture of what you want first.  As hockey legend Wayne Gretzky responded when asked how he scored so many goals, “I skate to where the puck is going to be.” (quote courtesy of Sam Horn).

Therefore, Day 4 of the “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” Series is devoted to creating your work+life fit vision.

First, let’s look back at Days 1, 2 and 3 of the series.  Hopefully, you see how the “how-to” basics we’ve covered set you up nicely to begin to answer this tiny, troublesome question:

  • Day 1: you learned there is no right answer of “balance.”  And you began to see all of the work+life fit possibilities from making both small and big adjustments in how, when and where you worked and managed your life.
  • Day 2: you learned to recognize and challenge roadblocks that pop up when your definition of success related to money, prestige, advancement and caregiving is too limited and rigid.
  • Day 3: you learned how to challenge the all too common, “Yes, buts…” and “What if,…” fear roadblocks that inevitably litter the path to a better work+life fit.

You’re open and you’re ready.  Let’s get started!  The information in this post and in the accompanying Fast Company post for Day 4 is so important that I’ve included even more book excerpts, so please read.  Good stuff!


Excerpt from Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You (Note: when I wrote the book, work+life fit was not the accepted terminology, so I refer to the vision as the “work+life” vision.  Today, substitute work+life fit vision).

“By definition a vision is ‘an imaginative insight into a subject or problem’ (Oxford American Dictionary).  Therefore, by creating your work+life vision, you are creating an imaginative insight into how you want work to fit into your life as a whole.

In other words, your vision is not how someone else sees working fitting into your life, but how you see it.  It’s not how work should fit in, but how you want it to fit in.  And it’s not how does your life fit into your work, but how do you imagine work fitting into your life.  This is your work+life vision.”  (Click here for more, and to print or download PDF).

Takeaway Action Step

Like any journey, you have to start with an idea of where you want to go before you begin. In this case, you can’t analyze and change your work and personal realities as part of the Work+Life Fit roadmap (which we will cover in Day 5)without a guiding vision of what you want those changes to help you achieve.

Your work+life fit vision will change countless times over the course of your life and career. After you’ve consciously articulated what you want, you will repeat the process many times in the future.  Like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets.


If I had to pick a favorite chapter from my book, it would be this one.  The little hairs on my arms stand up every time I read it.  Why?  Because I know that if more people had and understood the Work+Life Fit visioning tools, not only would their personal reality be transformed, but our collective reality would improve beyond measure.  But, sadly, most of us have no idea they exist, or how to use them.

Excerpt from Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You

“In the definition of work+life vision—creating an imaginative insight into how you want work to fit into your life as a whole—the most important words are imaginative and insight.  Why?  These are the words that describe the importance of looking within in order to see the possibilities for your life.  This is how you create your work+life vision.

GROUND RULES:  Leave All ‘Reality’ at the Door, Now It’s Time to Dream!

The only way you’re going to create a vision that truly reflects how you want work to fit into your life is to check ‘reality’ at the door.  You’ll have plenty of time to worry about reality later.  But for now there are no limits, no ‘shoulds,’ ‘cant’s,’ ‘oughts,’ ‘yes buts,’ or ‘what ifs.’  There are only the possibilities and dreams.  Only ‘why nots.’”  (Click here for more, and to print and download PDF)

Takeaway Actions Steps:

There are two possible approaches to creating your unique work+life fit vision: 1) the head-based approach, or 2) the heart-based approach. Neither one is right or wrong, but the heart-based approach adds the power of your internal guidance, that “still, small voice,” to the mix.   As I say in the book, “If you remember only one reason for listening to your internal guidance, it’s this:  Only your internal guidance dreams bigger dreams for your life than your “rational” mind could begin to imagine.”

The Mind, Body and Spirit tools are the key to the heart-based approach for creating your work+life fit vision. All three play an important role, and I’m not talking about religion when I say “spirit.”

The “mind” tools are pretty self-explanatory.  This includes case studies, advice, and research that give you the information you need to succeed.  How have other individuals and organizations benefited from a more flexible work+life fit reality?  What did they do?

The “body” tools are also pretty straightforward.  You want to have access all of your energy and creativity in order to hear your internal guidance and create a work+life fit vision that’s as clear as possible.   And you need all of the resources possible finalize your plan based on that vision and make it a reality.  You do this by taking care of yourself physically as much as possible.

I cover the “spirit” tools and the power of internal guidance in my Fast Company post from today.  I outline strategies for accessing your internal guidance to develop your work+life fit vision, but I also share my personal story.  How my internal guidance informed my work+life fit transition almost 20 years ago from banker to work+life flexibility strategy consultant.


Excerpt from Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You

“Over the years, I’ve shared the power of the mind, body and spirit tools to resolve work/life conflict.  And clients and workshop participants so often responded: ‘That sounds great, but when am I supposed to find the time to do all of that?’
When I reluctantly started down the path of seeking my internal guidance, I never believed I’d find the time to use one tool, never mind three.  However, the more unhappy and unhealthy I felt I knew that I simply needed to find the time.  I looked at my life and found time by watching less TV, and going to bed earlier so that I could wake up an hour earlier to meditate and write in my journal.  I made sure I left work on time to make it to yoga class.”  (Click here for more, and to print or download PDF)

Takeaway Action Steps

My personal and professional experience is that you can find the time.  You just have to look, and you don’t really have to do that much to start to notice increased clarity about what you want in your work+life fit.  Here are some suggestions from the chapter excerpt above:

  • Complete the “How Connected Are You to Your Internal Guidance?
  • Try the very basic, super simple “Mind, Body, Spirit” tools practice for one week

What do you want?  How to you create your work+life fit vision?

Entire “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” Series:

Day 1: What is Work+Life Fit? / Seeing the Possibilities

Day 2:  Challenge Roadblocks — Redefine Success:  Money and Prestige / Advancement and Caregiving

Day 3:  Challenge Roadblocks — Fear

Day 4:  What Do You Want? / Your Internal Guidance and My Story

Day 5:  Creating Your Work+Life Fit Plan–Making It a Win-Win

Want More:

Want more?
•    Order the book with the entire Work+Life Fit process: in print or on Kindle at www.Amazon.com
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