The Power of a Long-Term Vision
“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” – Jonathan Swift
How does one become a success in life? Easy- set your goals, and get to work on achieving them. What are the best goals to set though? Will achieving just those goals make you successful? What is success anyway? Okay, maybe this is not going to be so easy after all… What are we missing?
Not Goals, Vision
We tend to hear about goal setting in almost ever discipline imaginable where human beings are striving for success. We are told that we need to set goals, we need to pursue goals, we need to achieve goals- however, there is a piece missing here. We are working towards something, but we have not determined what the bigger picture is.
This is because goals are great at answering the HOW of what we are doing, but not the WHY.
This is where we need to have a vision. A vision is the why of what we want to achieve in life. It is the concept that addresses our underlying passions, values, motivators, and beliefs, and allows us to incorporate them into the impact we have on the world, and the value that we create for ourselves and others.
The Why Of The Why
Okay, so vision addresses the why behind what we do, but why do we really need to know that? Isn’t it enough to know that the process of setting and achieving our goals will move us forward?
The problem isn’t that we are spending too much time trying to set or fulfill our goals. Goals are a vital part of achieving success, but without vision they are incomplete. They lack direction. This is because typically our goals are based on a measurement of where we are now, or where we have been. We use these metrics to help us figure out where we can be begin to build, and what we can realistically hope to achieve over a short, medium, or even a long period of time. A vision encourages us to step outside of our current situation, and consider the broadest possibilities for ourselves and our lives.
The How Of The Why
Creating a long-term vision is not an easy thing though. Not unlike any skill, creating a long-term vision requires practice, discipline, and perseverance, and will likely change as we become better at defining what we value. This starts with asking ourselves tough questions about who we are and what is truly important to us.
As an exercise, try sitting down with a blank piece of paper and a pen. Begin by jotting down as many of the goals or achievements you have set for yourself that you can think of, and examine them closely. Now, challenge yourself to come up with some reasons that these goals are important to you. What are you hoping to get out of achieving these goals? What are you hoping these goals will do for you? Try to be as specific as possible. See if you can break these thoughts down even further, identifying some of the “whys” that are beneath these goals you have set for yourself.
Once you have done this, try to imagine a time in the future in which you have completed all of the goals you have just written down. What will you be like? What value will have been added to your life and to the lives of the people around you because of these experiences? What kinds of new opportunities might these create for you?
Congratulations, you have just begun to step outside of your day-to-day reality, and started to think in terms of possibilities.
“Vision is a picture of the future that produces passion.” Bill Hybels