What’s your vision for your life? Maybe this question is intimidating to you. Or maybe you’ve heard it so many times that it’s actually gotten a little old.
While the idea of vision is taught almost everywhere – many spiritual teachers and famous authors have written about it for centuries – most people still haven’t learned how to fully maximize the idea of vision in their lives and leadership.
What is Vision?
When I think of vision, I think about a GPS. I don’t know about you but I’m personally quite attached to my GPS. I don’t often drive without using mine. On occasion when I haven’t had the time to plug it in, or have just forgotten, I’ve ended up taking a longer route, or worse getting lost! The horrible moment comes when you think you’re on the right track and then you discover you’re not. You’re late, you’re panicked and you end up being later than you would have been if you’d just plugged the damned thing in!
Vision works very similarly in that if we don’t know where we’re going if we don’t have an address in the GPS or haven’t plugged it in, it’s easy to get sidetracked or lost. Getting sidetracked can be fun sometimes, but it can also lead to getting lost or stuck in a cul de sac and having to retrace your steps.
Whenever I begin to work with a client, the very first thing we talk about is their vision because it’s simply not possible to get somewhere unless you know where you want to go.
Below, I’ve outlined two common pitfalls to crafting a vision that will produce real results:
The conversation below is similar to one I’ve had many times—
Coach: “What’s your vision for the next year? What would be amazing to see happen in your life? In your work?”
Coachee: “I would love to not be so busy or anxious anymore. I’d love to stop saying yes to too many things.”
What most people don’t realize is that this is a “non-vision”. What this means is that they’re more clear on what they don’t want than on what they do want.
So why is this a pitfall?
Well, remember when you went to driving school and the person teaching you would say “don’t look at the cars in the other lanes, look ahead at the next car, look where you’d like to go.”
This is such a profound metaphor for vision. When our primary focus is the thing we don’t want, we actually tend to veer towards it. This is why most people find themselves confused about why they keep getting “more of the same” in life.
One example of this for me was when I got married at the young age of 21. I lacked a clear vision for why I was getting married or who I wanted to be as a wife. I didn’t get married because I wanted to be an amazing spouse or build a family. In hindsight, my vision was to “not be alone” or “not lose what I had” which inevitably led to a broken marriage.
When we are working with our clients, we often ask them to pick a vision that’s worth going after. Our CEO, Jason Jaggard once said “a vision is a picture of the future that incites passion”.
A non-vision is not a bad place to start, but when you find yourself there I would invite you to flip it. If your current non-vision is to “not be so anxious anymore”, then try flipping it to what you do want rather than what you don’t want. For example, “I want to be filled with passion and joy. I want to leave work inspired. I want to wake up excited”.
Why do we often start with non-visions?
It’s a great way to avoid getting our hopes up. But ultimately avoiding disappointment leads to cynicism. A cynical person is a passionate person that’s been disappointed, so my invitation is to invite the passion back in.
Once I met a woman at an event I spoke at who expressed that her vision was to get married. I was asking her questions about this dream of hers and if it felt possible or impossible. She said “Oh I believe anything is possible”, to which I said “great! So you believe that it’s possible that you’ll get married one day.” “Absolutely!” she said. Then I said, “What about getting married in the next 12 months?” Her face, energy, and demeanor changed. “Oh no, that feels pretty impossible.”
This to me was a great example of a vague vision. Often we are missing the “how much” and “by when” without realizing it.
Why might we do this, and often, without knowing?
Being vague is a wonderful strategy to avoid discomfort. Being vague can feel comfortable, and being specific can feel uncomfortable. Think about it, when you set a tangible goal it’s uncomfortable because you know you’ll need to shift your behavior in line with achieving it. And yet when we’re vague we’re open to getting lost or side-tracked.
“I want more money” or “I want to be healthier” or “I want a better relationship” is a good start, but hard to measure success or failure.
Instead, statements like “I want $2000 more in my emergency fund by April” or “I want to run the LA Marathon in August” or “I want to have date nights weekly with my husband starting next week” create motion. When your vision is vague your actions are vague.
What address have you locked into your GPS? Is it compelling? Is it specific? Does it ignite your passion? What might happen in your life if you set the coordinates in the direction you really want to go?
At Novus Global, we know from years of working with people, that the only way anyone makes their impossible possible and realizes what they’re truly capable of, is when they start with a vision of where and who they want to be, have measurable goals and actions, and always have a person or group who hold space for them to keep an account of doing what they say they’re going to do.