I'm in a number of situations in my life where, standing at a crossroads, I don't know which path to take. This analogy is an oft-used one, but visualization is an important facet of any concerted effort. Visualization helps you to really picture what the end result should look like, or rather, each part of the process as it heads in that direction, and then, the final work of art.
If you haven't done it before, just try it a few times when you are working on a project. Picture the end result in your head. Really look at it; examine it and look at it from all sides. Then trace the steps that it took to get there. Sometimes I will even "reverse engineer" the situation, so I can see if I left anything out in the plan. But even more importantly, from time to time you have to return to that vision, focus on it, and check your progress to make sure that you are on track.
I have found that I imagine what a certain project will look like when it is done and in some cases, I think the project is complete, only to really contemplate my vision again and see that it isn't what I thought it would be. Depending on the value of the project, that might not matter much, or it might very well be that what you imagined is not at all like what the result was, and subsequently, your project isn't of any worth to you.
Life is also like this. Sometimes we need to look at the end result and ask ourselves, what is it that we want and how do we get there? It's amazing how many times I ask someone, "Where are you going?" and their answer is so short-sighted. I'm guilty of it myself, and in times like these I have to force myself to look at the end goal. Where am I going? What is the thing I want to summarize my life with? Is it an achievement, or status, or a presence of mind? Do I want a lifestyle? Do I want a certain epitaph? Do I want an amazing biography? Or do I want just to be at peace with myself and others?
Returning to your ultimate vision requires some serious challenges to your frame of mind. When I was much younger, I had a vision of where I wanted to be and to be honest, I guess I stopped short of my total view, because as I achieve those marks on the "bucket list", I find that I need to start filling in where the blanks are now appearing. This is a good thing, as it means I am continually striving and moving forward, but what it means is really evaluating what it is you see as the ultimate summary of your life.
So where do you want to be next year? Five years from now? Twenty years from now? A lifetime from now? Take time for yourself and look out from the top of the mountain. How far do you want to be able to see? It requires a clear head, an open mind, and an understanding that even when you see things one way, often times enough, conditions change. It requires a certain level of humor to see that even when we have a view of the distance, there are hidden paths along the way that may make our journey different than expected. But the idea is to not let those paths deter you from that vision, or if they do, to use them to enrich that journey rather than to sidetrack you from it. And really, going down some of those paths may very well cause you to see a whole different way of looking at that journey in the long run.