a) Identifying what are the key features of the two islands (the one we are and the one we aspire to be) and how these are different;
b) Focusing on the resources that will move us from the island we are to the island we aspire to be;
c) Considering who controls the inflow of these resources; and
d) Thinking about the outflows.
Two islands, one life
Your vision(s) of the island are a metaphor of your life and these help you tap into your intuition rather than your reason. When asked to think about their life, most people will confine themselves to extrapolations of the present and/or the possible. Using imagery is about disrupting the trajectory of one’s life and dreaming the impossible. Once you have worked out the details of the two images of the islands though you should start considering what these tell you about your life.
You may discover, for instance, that the island that you imagined your life as and the island that you liked are dramatically different; or that there is no difference at all. If there is no difference this only means that your life is where you would like it to be – for some this may be a completely barren island, for others a jungle of greenery. The important thing is that this is your island and this is your life. If the islands are different this is the opportunity to think about what is the main difference, and what will take you from where you are to where you would like to be.
My aspirational island is much more organised, tame and predictable that the island I currently am. My life is still full but it is neat, colourful and beautiful. The island I aspire to be demands time to be enjoyed. It also includes variety not simply and only plenty. To move from where I am to where I wish to be I guess I need to: prioritise beauty and quality; to have some more organisation and planning in my life; to bring variety of experiences in my life, to try new things, to learn new things; to have more colour in my life.
What are the resources for this transformation? There are three kinds of resource to life: money, time and energy. What kind of island our life is depends on the balance of the three. My next step will be to work out this balance – but this can be done only after the broad statements from the previous paragraph have been made specific. When it is not ‘quality and beauty’ but it is three specific items and/or experiences.
Who controls the inflow to your island?
Most people have control over the flows of their energy, some people have control over their time or at least a proportion of it, but very few people have real discretion over the inflows of money in their life. Before they start paying attention, that is! So the main question here is ‘who controls the inflow of money’ in your life?
Mostly, the in flow of money in life is controlled through labour markets whether one is employed, self-employed or even unemployed; we exchange our energy, competencies and time for money. How much water from the money-river gets to your island depends on the other islands in the river. Some of them are employers, others are direct customers but they still control the flow to your island. Since the kind of island your life is depends on this inflow the question is ‘how can you increase your control over the inflow’. How could you ensure that the inflow of water will be always enough to sustain the kind of island your aspirational island is.
Here I believe that one controls the inflow of money in their life by using two mechanisms: a) increasing one’s value on the labour market; and b) creating an irrigation system.
Outflows are just as important
If the river of money is to continue flowing each island ought to put some back. Just as water flows from other islands to yours, it should flow from your island to others. Some of this water (money) will be exchanged for other things your aspirational island has – in my case for colourful and varied experiences, for services and for few high quality products. Another part could flow back into the river and towards islands that could do with your excess water. And a third outflow can be used to build and maintain the irrigation system I mentioned above.
Importantly, we should not allow our islands to become a wasted marshland.