3 Tools I Use to Clarify My Vision and Goals

These have been game-changers.

By Camille Styles
Ally Walsh, Canyon Coffee

Last weekend, I taught a digital course for Create & Cultivate on How to Create a Vision Board for the Life of Your Dreams. The digital summit was inspired by the need to help entrepreneurs discover how to pivot their businesses and grow in the face of this new normal, and I loved getting to share my tips on how to make a vision board actually work for you – and help gain traction on your own vision and goals.

As I started to prepare materials for the course, I realized that before I could get into the nitty gritty of creating a vision board, it was necessary to back up a bit… I started asking myself whether most of the women watching had actually defined what their vision even was.

Because how can you create a powerful vision board full of all the images and quotes that will inspire you to get after your goals, if you’re not even quite sure what you want out of life in the first place?

I decided to begin the session by sharing 3 tools that have been helpful for me as I’ve worked to clarify my dreams for my own life. To be honest, I hadn’t given these a ton of thought; they’re little pieces of inspiration I’ve picked up from various authors and wise people and jotted down in my journal in a place where I can go back and revisit when I’m feeling foggy about what exactly it is that I’m pursuing in life. These are tools that help me get out of the day-to-day grind and let my imagination go wild – I don’t stop myself from dreaming big and if my daydreams feel unrealistic, that’s totally fine.

As my course came together, I started to realize just how key these 3 exercises have been to my own goal-setting and decision making over the last couple years, so thought I’d share them here, too. Scroll on for the list, and I’d love to hear in the comments if you’ve used any of these, or have vision-setting tools of your own that you’d like to share.

*ps – I created a page with all our best vision boarding and goal setting content right here if you’d like to do a deeper dive! 

Ally Walsh, Canyon Coffee in the living room in Santa Monica

The tools.

Grab a notebook and pen, and settle in with these… 

#1 – Dream Day Schedule

Design your perfect day, walking through every detail from the moment you wake up, what you do first, how you wash your face and get dressed, all the way through to work, your interactions with others throughout the day, what you do for fun, and how you wind down and go to bed.

What does your dream day look like? More importantly, how do you feel as you walk through it? Sure we would all love to wake up in a hotel room and be served breakfast in bed, but is that really how you’d want to spend every day? Might get a little boring. When I’m crafting my dream day, I try to focus less on the material and more on how I want to feel: present, fulfilled, in my creative flow, etc. Then I can start to define what activities make me feel this way, and know that those should be on my dream day schedule.

Don’t forget to consider the ways in which you can be of service to others, how you can leave a positive impact on those around you, and on the world – this is an integral part of a fulfilled life, and if our dream day neglects to think about others, I don’t think it will leave us all that happy in the end.

This exercise will help you get clear on what your dream actually is. For example, maybe you’ve been trying to decide whether you should turn your passion into a full-time job, or let it be a side hustle. Go back to your dream day — if your key priorities involve financial stability or flexibility to pickup your kids from school, perhaps your current full-time gig already. enables some of the things you really want your life to look like.

Ally Walsh, Canyon Coffee in the living room in Santa Monica

#2 – The Joy List

This is pretty much what it sounds like: what are the specific things that always bring you joy? It sounds simple, but I think we give too little thought to the activities that actually make us feel fulfilled, instead getting caught up in the busyness of our schedules or the nonstop social media grind. I love taking a pause from all of this, settling into a cozy corner of my bedroom with my journal and a candle, and free writing the things that consistently fill me with joy.

My joy list includes things like cooking, spending time in nature, writing, undistracted time with my family, inspiring design, gathering friends together…

Once you’ve got your joy list written out, keep it somewhere you can see it every morning. Ask yourself: How can I bring more of these activities into my life?  How can I incorporate a couple of them into TODAY?

Ally Walsh, Canyon Coffee in the kitchen in Santa Monica

#3 – Morning Questions

In my journal, I have a list of questions that I love to ask myself at the beginning of each day. These can be great prompts for more in-depth journaling, or it can be as simple as sitting quietly with these when you start the day and taking a few seconds to touch on each one. I can’t take credit for coming up with these actual questions – the first few came from a book I read by Gabby Bernstein, and the last one was inspired by this interview I recently listened to with the designer Eileen Fischer. They resonated so much with me that I decided to make them part of my morning routine. And they’ve been powerful in helping me get clear the clutter in my brain and focus in on the things that matter. Here are the questions:

– How do I want to feel today?

– Who do I want to be today?

– What do I want to receive today?

– What do I want to give today?

– What’s standing in the way of me feeling free today?

Ally Walsh, Canyon Coffee in the living room in Santa Monica

Remember, the whole point of these exercises is to get clear on what you actually want your life to look like so that you can carve out your own vision for your life… not someone else’s vision for what your life should look like!

Spend time with these, enjoy the process, do the ones that feel meaningful to you and ditch the rest. Use these tools to know and understand yourself – your most authentic self – in a deeper way, so that you can wake up each morning with more clarity about who you are and where you want to go.