A compelling vision helps you make choices about where to focus your energy. Without vision, you are in danger of trying to be all things to all people, scattered or adrift. So stay focused on your vision, and don’t get distracted by unrelated opportunities.
In our book, Full Steam Ahead! Unleash the Power of Vision, Ken Blanchard and I explain:
“Vision is knowing who you are, where you’re going, and what will guide the journey.”
Who you are is your purpose. Where you’re going is your picture of the future. What will guide your journey are your values.
Vision is about being great
A noble purpose is inspiring and helps you stay committed when times are hard.
A compelling vision is not about beating the competition or expressed simply in numbers. It’s about being the best you can be. Being “number one” might be a goal, but where do you go from there? Your vision will continue to guide you by answering, “what’s next?” as each goal is achieved.
Vision is clear and specific. It’s not just “positive thinking.” It shows you a picture of what “being great” looks like for you.
3 Guidelines to Surface Your Vision
1. Relax and have fun.
To create a vision, you must first connect with what you care most deeply about. Suspend your internal judge and critic. Dig below the surface and see what arises. Be creative and playful. Give yourself permission to explore, to dream.
Do not let your fears and concerns limit your thinking. A vision can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. If you have any doubts about this, consider the story of Terry Fox.
You can use the logical part of your brain later to shape your vision, but first reach for your deepest dreams.
2. Be proactive, not reactive. Focus on what you desire, not what you want to get rid of.
There is more power in focusing on what you desire than on removing a problem. If you are are focused primarily on what you don’t want, you might remove a specific problem, but you are likely to move simply from one crisis to another – because you’re not focused on where you’re going.
If you you must focus on removing a problem, pair it with a proactive focus. For example, if you want to lose weight, you need to eat less. However, if you are frequently thinking about the chocolate you are not eating, it’s difficult to maintain motivation over the long term. Try also picturing what you’ll look like in your new jeans. Or if you’re quitting smoking, imagine yourself in your old age taking a hike or reading a book to your grandchildren.
3. Focus on the end result, not the process to get there.
The power of vision comes from creating an image of the end result. The process for achieving it, the path, will not necessarily be clear.
In the late 1970’s, the technique of “mental rehearsal’” became popular in sports training – where the athlete visualized his or her performance during the competition. Over the years, sports trainers discovered that the real power was in visualizing the end result— celebrating the victory or seeing yourself standing on the podium receiving the gold medal.
Imagine that the future is just as you wished it would be. What is actually happening? See vivid images that show what your purpose is, what your values are, and what you are doing.
Activities to Discover Your Vision
For most of us, vision does not appear like a bolt of lightning. It’s like mining for gold. We gather nuggets, and eventually they coalesce into a cohesive picture. If you would like to try some specific activities, see my post 3 Activities to Discover Your Vision.