Life Operating System Step 1, Feelings over Ferraris
Are you a visual person too?
I have always known I am a visual person. If you are like me, you prefer fleshing out ideas on a whiteboard rather than a Word document. So when it came to designing my Life Operating System (LOS) a few years ago, I knew that I needed something visual ? to roll my life progression up into. This picture would always serve to answer the question, ‘Why do this?’.
Visualization’s (e.g. vision boards) reputation has gone back and forth from detrimental to instrumental and everywhere in between. Neil Farber, the author of Blame Game, rightly points out that vision boards in themselves do not lead to action and “If you don’t look at and plan for potential obstacles, you will be unprepared mentally, emotionally, and practically for facing real challenges”.
For myself, the famous Jim Carrey story of writing himself a check for $10million is the story that seals the debate for me that it can definitely help. However, as I will elaborate on later, visualization/vision boards can fall short if:
A. The board is the end in itself, and there is no downstream action ❌
B. Is filled with Ferraris instead of Feelings ❌
There’s a sitcom episode for all of life’s problems
One day, while watching one of our favourite shows, Always Sunny in Philadelphia (the longest-running sitcom of all time), the ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ episode surfaced. Here, the gang each creates a vision board with magazine clip outs of what they want in life, with the thinking that crudely pasting Danica Patricia photos and yellow Ferraris on cardboard would grant them their grandest desires. However, Dee points out the first challenge, that the gang must DO good things for others first. This point highlights (perhaps only in jest) that thinking without doing gets you nowhere. Averting the first failing of visualization methodologies.
ASIP, S.4 E.12
If you are familiar with the show, then you know that plan ended horribly for everyone, as the gang always looks to shortcut their own plans based on a risk/reward rationale that would leave any psychologist baffled. Though it must be noted that some of their vision boards DID come true if only short-lived.
What I took away from the episode is not that vision boards DON’T work❌, but that a vision board can work if I learned from the gang’s successes and failures by:
A. Make it SIMPLE ✅
B. Depict the FEELING you will have, not the FERRARIS you want ✅
C. Tie it to your ACTIONS ✅
Here is what I came up with within 1 day and how you can do it too
Vision board from 2020
Where: Find your background. Where do you see yourself in 10, 15, 20 years? Are you in a penthouse apartment in Tokyo or a small farm in Panama??? Do you feel like you have room to grow or do you enjoy feeling the bustling of a busy city?
What: What are your past times? Will you read it? Work from home? Travel? Do you feel the need for recreation? Will you feel the fresh air on your face every day? Or do you want to have a feeling of urgency and risk (as many do!)
Who: Will you have a family? How many children? will you have a thousand friends or just 10 close friends? What do you feel when you see them in your mind? Do you sense calm conversations around a campfire? Or maybe a feeling of partying on a yacht with strangers? ?
Do an online search of images representing your answers, and download them all locally. Go to https://www.lunapic.com/. Upload your background first. Then add your other pictures to the background via ‘Edit’ — ‘Paste From..’ and resize them to create your vision board! Export as an image and you’re ready to put it into action!
How do you use a vision board?
Some of the feelings I elicit from my vision board are Independence (living on a country farm and off-grid), Communal (shared dinner table with a close group of family and friends), Pride (teaching my children to fish), and Creative (DIY projects in my welding shop).
In short, my vision board sits right on top of my ‘Life Themes’ (you may already have put together that the Feelings elicited from the vision board fit nicely as life themes) and my OKR manager. Every time I work on my objectives or update my key results, I have a toggle button to view my vision board and remind me what the ultimate feeling desired is, and give the answer to ‘Why do this?’. ?
Bottom Line, ‘Why do this?’
Visual people need visuals, creating your own picture creates more ownership of realizing your dreams ?
It’s so simple it will take 15 minutes, and I bet you’ll have fun doing it. And if life changes, just replace one of the cutouts. No one says it has to remain the same!
It will jump-start your design thinking of life management — all your actions need to link to the vision
Because Always Sunny in Philadelphia is awesome, and we should all try to re-enact at least one episode in our lives ?