Life Visioning: Why it's Important plus 10 Great Life Vision Exercises & Ideas!

Client looking to the future with a telescope for Life Vision Exercises

In this article are 10 Life Vision Exercises

I get a lot of questions from coaches who want to help their clients with life vision exercises. Often people—and their coaches—are looking for a catch-all tool, workbook, visualisation or some other technique to help their clients.

Which is great. And yet, there are countless life vision exercises—and ways to come up with a life plan. Maybe that's why it can feel overwhelming!

Person next to huge rock with arms in the air for Life Visioning Exercises

First we'll take a look at why a life vision is important. Then we'll look at 3 life vision exercises I always use with my clients, followed by 7 more life vision exercise ideas!

You can also jump straight to the life vision exercises here >>


First, let's get clear why a life vision is helpful!

Have you heard the saying: If you don't know what you want, you'll end up with what you get?

This sums up why it's so important to have a life vision! Because all too often people go through their lives without thinking about what they truly, deeply want. And then they end up with a mundane existence that lacks meaning—or worse, a life that sucks them dry.

Without a "life vision" (or an idea of what we'd like our life to look like), it's all too easy to chug through life, and suddenly realise: "Oh! I wanted _______ but now it's too late". Or: "I really thought I'd be_______ by now", but instead they're still stuck at first base.

And without a vision for our lives we also miss out on great opportunities, because we simply don't recognize them.

Key factors to consider when visioning with our clients

The purpose of a life vision exercise is to create a desirable future that helps people focus their goals and decisions and inspires them to take action.

This life vision gives our clients a clear direction. And this clarity—when people know exactly what they're working towards—helps them make better decisions and choices in their lives and careers. And it also adds to their life satisfaction when they go through their days knowing they're working towards something bigger.

To make a life vision powerful it should be:

  1. INSPIRATIONAL: A ho-hum life vision does not inspire people to do the work. So a life vision should be inspiring enough that people are excited to take action towards it.
  2. MEANINGFUL: And a life vision should also align with our clients' deepest values. A life vision that feels good and true and authentic is going to be easier and more satisfying to work towards. And it also means that when the going gets tough, that meaningful life vision will help pull our clients forwards.

So taking some time to help our clients envision what they truly from life want is really helpful. But it's also a powerful tool in our coaching. Because when you map what your client is working towards onto the larger vision they have for their lives, they're going to more excited and motivated to do the work.

Here are the 3 Life Vision Exercises I always use with my Clients

The 3 life vision exercises below are a series of simple, yet powerful one-page visioning exercises that help clients connect with themselves and what they truly want from life.

Starting with the biggest picture our client has for their lives, over the course of 3 exercises we chunk their vision down, so that at the end, the client has an actionable and authentic vision of how they want their life to be in just 3 month's time.

Big Picture Vision

We start with a helicopter vision: How do our clients see their life overall? What do they expect to complete/do/achieve over the course of their lives?

This big picture vision is the container that our clients' more detailed visions will fit into.

So this tool offers 3 life vision exercises as options for your clients:

The Rocking Chair Life Vision Exercise (plus 2 others) are writing or journaling exercises where our clients look back over their life—and what they have achieved. The 3 exercises include:

  1. The Rocking Chair Life Vision
  2. The Retirement Party
  3. Celebratory Newspaper Article

Each exercise provides an opportunity for your client to reflect in a big picture way: What do I want from my life as a whole? What matters most? What would I be disappointed not to achieve?

Now we have a "container" for goal-setting and creating a life direction.

Bring the Vision Closer

This next life visioning exercise brings that vision in. It only considers the next 10 years of our client's lives.

But they are now doing this reflection in the context of how they want their life to be—overall.

This Get Perspective Vision Exercise asks clients to detail where they want to be in 10 years, then 5, 2, 1 and 3 months time.

And the exercise deliberately works back from 10 years to the present day—this way they really get a sense of what they need to do now to make their 10 year vision and goals happen.

Make the Vision Relevant Now!

This final life visioning exercise asks clients where they would like to be in 3 months' time. It follows neatly on from the Get Perspective exercise which wraps up with a quick look at where they want to be in 3 months.

The 3 Month Vision Worksheet allows our clients to think in detail about what they'd like their life to be like in 3 months, so that you can now work with them to set goals to achieve it.

This visioning worksheet exercise gets people exploring the details of how they'd like their lives to be in 3 months' time in key life areas like their Home and Family, Health and Well-being and Career.

It then asks for obstacles, who they need to be to achieve this vision. And these questions prime our clients to create goals and an action plan with us.

And of course, we now know that this 3 month vision maps onto the big picture vision they have for their lives. How awesome is that?

I always use these life visioning exercises in the above order.

Because when you do these 3 life vision exercises in the sequence above (from far into the future, then finishing up with their next 3 months) you get a broad overview of the vision our clients have for their life. AND it brings people right back to the present day/immediate future.

This helps them focus on what they need NOW to achieve the short-term vision they have that also fits beautifully into the overall vision they have for their life. And there is plenty of scope for additional coaching and homework around each of the exercises.

Love these ideas? Check out our Goal-Setting Toolkit!

Get the Rocking Chair Life Vision Exercises, Get Perspective, 3 Month Vision Worksheet plus 7 more goal-setting tools and step-by-step User Guide!

And here are 7 More Great Life Vision Exercises & Ideas

I have used all of these life vision exercises. Which one depends on the client, what they enjoy—and where they're at in their lives.

1) The Eulogy Question

  • What would your client want said about them in their eulogy—or at their funeral/memorial service?
  • What would they want written on their tombstone?

These questions make great reflective journaling prompts. They force our clients to condense their lives and achievements into what matters most.

But obviously be sensitive to whom, and when, you offer these questions!

2) Your Ideal Day

Ask clients to write about their "Ideal Day". And this should start from the moment they wake up, until they go to bed.

Simply ask your clients to write out how they'd like their day to be including answering:

  • What would they do?
  • How would they feel?
  • Who and what would they see?
  • What are they working towards?
  • What is the texture of their day?
  • What do they notice?

3) Meet your Future Self

One great way to do this is to do a creative visualisation exercise where you talk them through meeting their future self and explore the life, relationships, environment etc. their future self is living. Just type "future self visualization script" into your internet search bar for lots of ideas!

Alternatively ask your clients to imagine meeting their future self 25 years from now.

  • What advice does their future self have for them?
  • What's important to their future self?
  • Use the 5 Ws (plus an H): Who, What, How, Where, When and Why? to help people give a more detailed and specific response.

4) The Magic Wand Question

If your client had a magic wand, what life would they create for themselves?

Introducing "magic" frees people to imagine without limiting beliefs and fears!

Ask what would they do in the next 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years and then 25 years?

5) The Wheel of Life

You could also simply use a Wheel of Life as a life visioning exercise!

  • Ask your client what they'd like their life to look like in each of the wheel of life categories.
  • Then ask them to make a list of what they want in each of the wheel segments.

To learn everything you need to know about this powerful coaching tool read: The Complete Guide to the Wheel of Life.

6) Step to it!

Why not devote a whole session to your client's life visioning and make this experience even more memorable by turning the exercise into something 'physical' they can do. How?

  • Ask your client to label and then put pieces of paper on the floor representing the next 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years and then 25 years.
  • Get them to step on each piece of paper in sequence, close their eyes and then ask them questions. What do they see/feel/hear? Who is there with them? Where are they? What do they love about it?
  • Use the categories from the Wheel of Life to ask what's going on in different areas of their life.
  • As they answer all these questions, make notes for them. Then at the end give these to your clients!

Also, (if they are interested) give them homework to summarise and write this up in their own words.

7) Create a Vision Board

Suggest your client creates a Vision Board for what they want from their life. This could be for the next year, 5/10/20 years—or the rest of their lives. So ask your client what time period they would like to create a vision board around.

Top Life Visioning Exercises Tip

Don't limit your clients to just one life visioning exercise! Because the more life vision exercises they do, the more information and detail they will get about how they want their lives to be. And the more rich and detailed their life vision is, the more inspiring it will be.

Life Visioning Exercises Wrap-up

There are so many ways to help people create a meaningful life vision. So take an idea, play with it. Get creative and have fun with several of these exercises!

... life never calms down long enough for us to wait until tomorrow to start living the lives we deserve. Sarah Ban Breathnach

If you liked this article on life vision exercises you may also like:

Curious about Coaching Exercises & Tools? You may like our Complete Guide to Coaching Tools (with examples)

Emma-Louise Elsey Headshot

Contributing Author:

Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003 and is the Founder of The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce She's passionate about coaching and personal development. Originally a project and relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies she combined her love of coaching, creativity and systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools. She now serves coaches and the coaching world through her exclusive newsletter for coaches, Coaches Helping Coaches Facebook Group and many other great tools for coaches, plus resources and ideas for your coaching toolbox. The Coaching Tools Company is an official ICF Business Solutions Partner.

Learn more about Emma-Louise & see all their articles here >>

Image of Client with telescope representing life vision exercises by ESB Professional via Shutterstock

Image of Person next to boulder by sasint via Pixabay


    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Mary! THANK-you. Life Vision is such a personal area and there are SO many different ways of going about it. I'm very glad you found the article useful. Keep up all YOUR good work.
      Warmly, EL

  1. Abe Green

    I appreciated the DIRECTION and INSPIRATION lines. I was curious about the exercises linked to above, but most of the links don't go to the exercises that are described. Can someone please update these?

    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Abe, thank-you for your comment. I checked the links in the article, and they all go to the exercises that are described. Could you clarify if there was a particular link issue or lack of clarity? Thanks, warmly, Emma-Louise

  2. Nima

    I am in awe of - and so grateful for - the value you guys provide on this site. Thank you so much for everything you share! I have found SO many things on your site that have been super helpful in my coaching practice. You're truly amazing!!!


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