Tag Archives: Dallas Willard

Living with VIM and Vigor: The Vision, Intention, and Means to the Good Life

In my role as Student Engagement Staff in the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department I often get to interact with students in need of direction and guidance.  With one recent encounter I used a method of personal analysis based on the work of the late USC philosopher, Dallas Willard.  He called it the VIM method.  I outline some of what I shared with the student below.  What I particularly like about this approach is that recognizes the critical importance of “vision.”  This is to acknowledge that people cannot be forced into human flourishing or that which is good for them.  What we can do is to paint a vision of the good life that they might find alluring and motivating.  As I interacted with this student I tried to guide the discussion with questions that would bring this student face-to-face with their ultimate goals and their understanding of the “good life.”  I think “vision” is the key component and the other two (intention and means) can fall into fall rather nicely under the guidance of a wise counselor.


  • What is your vision for the “good life”?
    • Physically, emotionally, spiritually
    • Relationships
    • Vocation, life-work
  • If the desires of my heart came true, what would it look like? (Try to be specific)
  • What do you want to be doing/experiencing in …
  • One year?
    • Two years?
    • Five years?
    • Ten years?


  • Vision is not enough.  We need to intend by an act of the will (actually, repeated acts of the will) to move toward the Vision set before us.
  • We cannot merely dream—we must act!
  • Clarifying vision can help motivate intention.  As I see clearly the good life, my desires for it increase and I’m more and more willing to move my will toward it.
  • Have I really intended to pursue the Vision before me?
  • Am I willing to begin to make the changes necessary to begin to see the Vision fulfilled?
    • If not, why?  What is holding me up?


  • What are the tools, resources, people, and practices that I will need to see Vision fulfilled?
    • Tools, resources: Technologies, Services (counseling, professional organizations)
    • People: Counselors (professional, wise family and friends), family, friends
    • Practices: Study habits, time management, focused “free-time,”

Question: What one thing do I need to do today to pursue VIM?