Creating Positive Visions of Your Future
Positive developments in life begin with positive visions. Successful athletes walk through their brightest moments mentally long before they play out those moments physically. Thriving executives and entrepreneurs create success in their mind’s eye before actual awards and profits are manifested. And before a person takes a leap of faith to physically create art, whether that creation is a painting or a novel or a movie, that art first exists in a mental place that has no canvas, page, or film reel.
Inventions like the light bulb, airplane, and computer were once just figments of imagination—visions—before they changed our daily lives.
No matter what progress you want to see in your life, you must begin to create a mental picture of what that progress looks like. If you want to get healthier, then you must picture yourself living with more energy, strength, and vigor. You ought to truly envision the clothes you will wear as that healthier person and the things you will be doing as that healthier person: lifting weights, running, biking, traveling, influencing, and thinking more clearly. If you want to make a professional change, then you must envision yourself being that change. You truly ought to envision yourself creating a new business, getting that promotion and thriving, or helping others in whatever new professional role you desire to inhabit.
This month at the Lovely Grind I’m focusing on creating positive visions to create positive changes, and in this newsletter I’m going to offer up five quotes for you to focus on as you begin to do just that.
One small positive thought in the morning can change the entire outcome of your day.
It’s far too easy to get lost in a sea of negative distractions first thing in the morning. I mean, given the fact that we use smart phones as alarm clocks nowadays, it isn’t too difficult to reach over to the nightstand, pick up the iPhone, and get angry, anxious, or depressed because of social media, news headlines, or emails. And even if you are an old soul with an old-fashioned clock by the bed, maybe you still wake up thinking of what the day will bring in the form of stress, stress, stress.
Or maybe you stay in bed thinking of what went wrong yesterday or what might go wrong today.
Break the cycle. Read a devotion, write in a journal, listen to an uplifting podcast, and give your brain and emotions something positive for breakfast. Think of one positive thought about the day ahead of you: about how you will accomplish something; about how you will help someone; about how you will be moving one step closer to a goal simply by getting up and trying. This sort of morning routine and focus can change everything.
The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.
Too often we get stuck in the rut of trying to make changes simply for the sake of making changes. We see something bad in our life or our behavior, and we resolve to cut it out! But without vision, this cutting can veer into the realm of pure self-torture.
We might diet not to create more energy and a better body, but simply because we feel we ought to (and thus we go through torturous cycles of guilt and failure and deprivation and binging).
We might read devotions and Scripture not because we want to become enlightened, but simply out of a sense of duty (and thus we never really grow spiritually or find greater wisdom and joy).
We might try to move our thoughts away from something negative, but if we don’t have something new and positive to think about, then the negative thoughts return.
This concept of “needing to fill up empty space” is something that Jesus talks about in the Gospels, too. In Matthew 12:43-45, Jesus talks about how an evil spirit might be purged from a person only to return if the “old” in a person’s life and heart aren’t replaced with something new.
Again, oftentimes in our quest to make positive changes in our lives, we focus only on cutting out something bad: sugar, alcohol, smoking, excessive spending, negative relationships, news headlines, swearing, etc. But if we only focus on cutting out the bad, and if we don’t have anything positive we are replacing that “bad” with, then we will find ourselves stressed, bored, and vulnerable to the negatives returning with a vengeance.
This is why “reasons” are so important (the WHY’s behind our changes), and it is also why finding new and positive passion is so important. Creating positive goals and a positive vision for your future is a necessary part of leaving the bad behind. Imagine the “new” you want to build and then take steps toward that new with passion. The negatives will then begin to drift away on their own, or at the very least they will be a little easier to resist.
“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” Jonathan Swift
Let’s be honest, much of the time this life can consist of pain, busywork, or disappointment. Much of the time the opinions and feedback we get from others can be of the naysaying variety. It can range from the well-meaning but thoughtless dashing of our dreams (“You shouldn’t try that. I’m just looking out for you…”) to downright cruel criticism or condescension.
Much of the time, the physical reality that sits in front of us on any given day—office cubicles, bottom lines, bills, sickness, political turmoil, traffic jams, and the like—can seem very uninspiring. And that is exactly why we must become practiced at seeing PAST the visible. We must become practiced at transcending daily pains and negativity and naysaying. We must give wide birth to our faith and free rein to our imagination. That is how we change lives, both our own and those of others.
Again, think of the biggest inventions of the past 150 years: cars, airplanes, the internet, smart phones, laptops, and on and on. People would have once thought these things impossible.
Think of the books and movies and songs you love: These were once just the fanciful imaginings of dreamers.
Don’t ever be afraid to look past the visible, for that is where we can see things that are truly beautiful and awe inspiring.
Most worries never come true. They only exist in your mind.
Many people have “vision,” but unfortunately the conjured worlds in their minds are made up of past demons or future problems. As human beings we are born (and perhaps raised) with a negativity bias. We hold onto criticism but dismiss compliments. We gravitate toward the negative headlines but ignore the positive. We think about tomorrow, but we often insert failure and disappointment into the next day before it even has a chance to show itself.
A lot of our reality is actually in our head. We are what we focus on. We FEEL what we focus on.
So why not focus on a positive vision of the future, whether that future is five minutes from now or five years from now? Shift the focus to shift the feelings. Try to become better and better at moving away from all of those frightful hypotheticals that clutter the minds of so many people.
Again, this is a divine concept that Jesus speaks of in the Gospels, too. “Who by worrying can add another minute to his life? Doesn’t each day have enough troubles of its own?”
As I mentioned earlier (and this certainly isn’t news to anyone reading this), our lives come with enough tangible trouble each year. However, if we can get used to only dealing with the trouble as it arises rather than worrying about it beforehand, we will clear a whole lot of room in our heads and hearts. Room that can then be filled with positive visions, excitement, passion, and peace.
“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” Joel Barker
I love to daydream, but I also know that I must follow up those dreams with positive and consistent actions (even if they are “small”) in order to bring those dreams closer to reality. And it feels great to have a “productive” day, but if actions are never done in the service of a grander vision, then how can you and I move forward?
The idea is to marry vision and action. That is the sweet spot where truly spectacular results can occur. Dream as often as possible, and then pluck a couple of those dreams down from the sky and make them formal goals with according “action steps.” The results that come from that, and the journey, will both please you and develop you.
Michael Priebe is a writer and personal development coach who has studied psychology, literature, and print journalism. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he graduated with honors. and over the years he has used both fiction and nonfiction formats to write about health, sports, professional life, politics, relationships, and spiritual issues. He puts out a variety of spiritually inspiring content at The Lovely Grind, and he blogs about his life at www.michaelpriebewriter.com.
He invites you to find out more about his coaching here, and he hopes you'll reach out to him on Facebook and Instagram.
“Michael helped me in a way that no doctor or therapist has been able to! His personal experience combined with his optimistic, constructive input and guidance is priceless. I highly recommend his coaching sessions.”
“I contacted Michael for coaching because he has the ultimate credential of having been through it all himself! I liked his warm, empathetic manner. He is easy to talk to, and I felt as if he were a family member in his warm caring toward me. Michael has a very reassuring way of communicating, and I would highly recommend him.”
Jon - British Columbia, Canada
“I came across Michael’s videos by chance while looking up information on prescription drug withdrawal. I found his YouTube videos to be very informative, honest, and consoling. I was watching one after the other and even converted the sound on the videos to MP3 so that I could listen to his advice while going for walks. That was very soothing for me, and therefore I decided to try his coaching services. Great decision.
"Michael is a great and patient listener, and during our time together I felt that he sincerely cared about my healing progress and had genuine empathy for all those going through withdrawal. He is a positive-minded individual who disseminates hope, and I appreciated the useful, personalized follow-up notes he sent after our session. Most certainly I would recommend his coaching.”
Yasmin - Cairo, Egypt
“No one else is doing what Michael is doing. It truly is a ministry! Michael is willing to make himself vulnerable to help others during their journey in the valley. He is very easy to talk to (I felt like I had known him forever), and I would most definitely recommend his coaching to others.”
Andi, North Carolina
“Michael’s coaching is truly a game-changing experience. I appreciate the level of understanding he brings … tons of knowledge on how to survive the days and get closer to recovery. When you finally get to look someone in the face and know they understand exactly what you’re going through, it can bring a different level of comfort; that is what Michael’s coaching provided me, and without a doubt I would recommend it to everyone going through this.”
“I decided to use Michael’s coaching services because he seemed very genuine and trustworthy. After speaking with him a couple of times, I realized that I am strong enough to overcome certain obstacles, but also realized that I need not rush the process [of becoming medication free]. It was comforting talking to Michael about my withdrawal issues so that I could realize that what I’m going through is common, and it was also useful that Michael took the time to give me feedback in specific areas—like making a schedule and forming realistic expectations for myself. Michael gave me more useful feedback than a lot of mental health counselors I’ve had. Michael has helped me, and I hope he continues to help others. I would definitely recommend his coaching services.”
“I learned a lot from Michael. At first I was so confused by withdrawal (wondering what I was going through and if I would be this way permanently), but Michael helped me to realize that we do heal and that things do get better. I had a lot of worries, but he helped to ease my mind and he gave me positive feedback regarding how to approach each day in this process. Michael has a caring heart, and I would 100 percent recommend his coaching to others going through this.”
Erikka, South Dakota
“It can be frustrating having to deal with [withdrawal] symptoms for months on end and getting next to no support from doctors or anyone in the medical community (people who for the most part are clueless). Simply getting a chance to speak with Michael—someone who has gone through what I have and is able to offer support—was comforting. I also really enjoyed his follow-up notes. They were insightful and helped me to consider things I hadn’t thought of. I very much enjoyed working with Michael, and I would recommend his coaching to anyone who is going through this process and looking for support.”
“Michael is relatable and non-judgemental. I liked his positivity and follow-up notes. He provided good support overall. I believe that if a person really wants to withdrawal from medication, then support like this, from someone who has personal experience, is invaluable, and for that reason I would recommend Michael’s coaching to others going through this process.”
Leanne – Ontario, Canada
"Because of Michael’s own experiences, he knows what serves and what damages. He helped me to control my intake of negative information, he made me more optimistic, and he gave me a sense of the “whole [healing] picture.” Michael is a good listener and his comments are very precise. I would definitely recommend his coaching to others going through withdrawal."
Miguel, Atlanta, GA
"I really enjoyed my coaching sessions with Michael and looked forward to each call. He is very easy to talk to and offers very good advice. Our conversations gave me hope and coping skills, and his follow-up notes and progress plan were very helpful; I reference them often to stay on track. I found it comforting talking to someone who has been through this and really understands the struggle. I now look at withdrawal as something that can be overcome, something that I can heal from. I felt very comfortable talking to Michael, and I would recommend his coaching services to others going through the withdrawal and healing process."
“I decided to try Michael’s coaching because, in his videos, he seemed so honest, relatable, upbeat, hopeful, and knowledgeable. I believe I got more out of Michael’s videos and coaching than I got from years of professional counseling. It is very comforting talking to him because it is like talking to a very knowledgeable, long-time, close friend. I have more hope for the future after talking to Michael, and that helps me to survive the times when I am feeling blue. I would recommend his coaching to those going through the withdrawal and healing process.”
“I really enjoyed the care that Michael put into every contact with me. I appreciate how he shared his own experiences, found out about my overall context, and made direct suggestions; it was so important to believe that I was not losing control of my mind and body and that I could carry on with living while going through the process. It was also helpful to set goals and a plan and check back in on these things. Michael’s coaching is very professional and authentic, and I would highly recommend him to anyone who is going through the withdrawal and healing process.”
Emma, United Kingdom
“I always refer back to what Michael coached me on in the past regarding dealing with such times during the recovery and healing process. I enjoy working with Michael because he takes his time answering each of my questions in detail. Michael has true answers and guidance. It is comforting being coached by someone who understands my symptoms, and also Michael is a very compassionate person. I would definitely recommend his services to a person in need of help during the withdrawal process.”
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CONTACT ME ABOUT COACHING
If you or someone you know is struggling to survive the pain and confusion of prescription drug withdrawal or chronic stress, I would like to offer my coaching services. Stress can suck the joy out of life, and the withdrawal process can be challenging (I know from experience). However, with the proper tools and mindset, these things can be survived and even used for greater growth. If you or someone you care about is trying to quit antidepressant or benzodiazepine medications (or simply trying to reduce stress levels), please click here to email me about coaching options and availability.