I’ve talked a lot about how visualization helps you create the future you want. This powerful tool has made a difference for me in my own life, when as an out-of-work-lawyer-turned-executive life coach, I saw myself on a TED stage one day, sharing with others how I changed my life.

In my vision I was wearing a better color, my neck was not so blotchy, and my pits weren’t so sweaty, but seeing myself on that stage was the catalyst that got me doing the work to get there. That vision was the reason I kept such a laser focus toward opportunities that presented themselves, and it’s that vision that got me to take a few chances and step outside my comfort zone.

Having a vision changed my expectations, and that was key.

I began to EXPECT better of myself. I knew that if the future I wanted was going to become reality, I had to change what I was doing now.

Since that TED talk, my life and business have blown up and now I’m on my way toward the vision I started while still in high school to host a daytime talk show.

Which means a whole new set of expectations has arisen for me.

So I’m back to visualizing.

Does visualization guarantee that your future will turn out exactly as you wish?

I wish.

Life has no guarantees, unfortunately, and success is a combination of hard work, grit, and even luck. But the more you stay the course, the more likely you push yourself further down the line and learn a hell of a lot about yourself in the process.

But I get that visualization is not easy for everyone and it does take practice.

To help you see your future, I’ve put together this list of questions to ask yourself. Whether it’s one year or five, use this list to jumpstart your personal expectations and next steps. Some of them may be challenging to answer, and that is on purpose. Each question is designed to help you visualize the PROCESS for getting to where you want to be, as much as the outcome.

Answer each question as if you are living your ideal future in 5 years:

1. When somebody asks what you do for work, how do you respond?

2. Describe your physical surroundings in as much detail as possible. Where are you working? Where do you live? Where do you spend your free time?

3. Describe the people surrounding you–in your business and personal life.

4. What is the atmosphere in your business and personal life? How do you contribute to that atmosphere?

5. What are you most proud of?

6. What is your favorite way to spend your downtime?

7. When somebody asks you for mentoring advice, what do you tell them?

8. Describe the steps you had to take to get to where you are.

9. Do you have any regrets? Explain.

10. What would you have done differently to get here?

Once you have your vision, tap into some powerful research out of UCLA.

Researchers found that visualizing yourself doing the steps it takes to reach your vision makes you more likely to succeed. In the study, people who visualized themselves studying received better scores than those who visualized a positive grade.

You can apply this research to your own visualization and goals for the future. Once you answer the questions above and have your vision, write down or think about the steps that you will need to take to get there. What exactly will you need to do?

Then, it’s time to tap into the power of visualization. Each day, visualize BOTH the future that you want–and picture yourself doing the steps to get there.