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Draw Your Life in Five Years

Slide1During my first work experience after college – an internship at the Women’s Sports Foundation in New York – an art therapist came to talk with the intern cohort about personal and professional development.  She gave us all blank sheets of paper and crayons and asked us to “draw our lives in five years.” There was no other direction – she didn’t ask us specifically to draw our work or our families or our houses…just “our lives.”  As a 22-year-old who was clueless about what the next month might bring, much less the next five years, I had no idea what to draw.  So I simply drew a picture based on what mattered to me (being outside, freedom, health, people around people, words/ideas).  I drew a globe, with a picture of people on bicycles on top of it, with thought bubbles coming out of their mouths.  The translation of this was simple: “I will be somewhere in the world – hopefully somewhere new – and I’ll have an active lifestyle and work in some way that allows me to learn from and share ideas with other people.”

Vague?  Yes.

But intentional?  Yes.

And by design or by chance or by some combination, at 27, I was in Europe leading cycling trips with a bunch of very bright and fun people.  Similarly, some of the things I hadn’t drawn in my picture (money, children, house, etc) hadn’t happened yet.

Ever since doing this exercise for the first time, I’ve been using pictures as one way to get clearer about future goals and aspirations.  A crayon is freeing – the drawing doesn’t have to look perfect, and it challenges your brain to work differently.  I personally draw in a journal I use for ideas, but you could do a quick sketch over breakfast and tack it on the fridge or scribble on a napkin at the coffeeshop and snap a picture of it.  It’s just another tool we have in our toolkit to keep living life on purpose.

Have you ever used drawing for professional development before?  How has it impacted you?  And what other life planning tools/ideas do you use and like?

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. I think in pictures, so this idea resonates with me.

    One similar project I tried was to write out my ideal day with a schedule. I could not do a day, so wrote out a week. It still helps. For instance, it gives me the self permission I need to explore on Thursdays because time for creativity is set aside- right on the schedule.

    Thanks for this idea.

    February 12, 2013
  2. I like your idea too, Susan! Thanks for sharing. And thanks for following…great to reconnect!

    February 13, 2013
  3. Stef #

    Hi there. I’ve been following your blogs and I’d like to know more about the cycle yours you did in Europe? Do you mind elaborating on that? Thank you!

    July 14, 2015

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