Looking into the future is like staring up into the branches of a tree, each limb leading the way toward a different possibility.  Some of these possibilities lead to blossoming leaves, even a bird’s nest full of life. Other branches of this tree are twisted and bare. If you’re sick or you struggle with a disability, your tree might not look like the tree of anyone else. It may branch in different ways, in different places, and the leaves it grows may not be the possibilities of being an astronaut or a professional basketball star.

Now climb this tree. You can choose which branch you imagine yourself following. Is it an obvious, wide branch or a smaller offshoot that feels like it could bend or break at any moment? In your mind, see if you can follow the greenest branch. Ask yourself, what does that mean for you? Imagine yourself following the branch of your perfect future. Sure, there are obstacles, things you have to climb past – imagine the path you must take to climb past these obstacles. Imagine yourself pushing through the brown branches that are in your way. Imagine yourself high above the ground as the branch that is your path forward narrows.

And now imagine yourself breaking through the canopy of these leaves into the light of whatever your future holds. Now when your life gives you challenges, remember this path you took and remember where it led.

This is visualization. It is using your imagination to choose your future. And by picking this possibility from the many possibilities that the future holds, you can help drive the direction of your life toward these goals. If you see it – really see it! – you can help to make it happen.

Sheri Sobrato
Sheri is a 30-year brain cancer survivor and founder of the nonprofit Digging Deep.