Vision and Goals – Destination or Journey

Wearing my coaching hat, I have been working with a delightful young woman, let’s call her K, who has been having difficulty in creating, embracing and working towards her vision.

K has been finding it difficult to create her vision because she is not exactly certain of  how she wants her future to look. She also has difficulty in setting and achieving her goals because she is not sure if by achieving them she will really be moving towards her vision.

Many people tell me that they have a similar problem, they cannot clearly see where they are going, should be going or even where they want to go with their lives. They are unable to either see or accept a vision for a life that they want.

The other side of this problem is that the same people usually have a clear picture of what they do not want, a current job, debt, an unhappy relationship and  lack of time being common.

This clarity of the negative side but fuzziness or obscurity of the positive, is both  frustrating and counter-productive. It leads many people who are trying to get ahead to the world of self-help or personal development, speakers, coaches, books and seminars.Vision books

All of these talk about the importance of goals and vision. Many are very good and provide effective tools for tracking progress, setting out goals and vision boards. But few provide a good formula for someone from the huge group of people leading lives of “quiet desperation” who know what they do not want but don’t know exactly what they should be moving towards.

Many experts suggest:

  • Following your passion
  • Picturing an ideal in the future
  • Looking back to earlier times for clues to what drives us.

Finding things we are passionate about is a good start, picturing an ideal day generally a year into the future and writing it down in detail is a good next step. Even better is to write how that ideal day would feel, it is something I do as part of my  annual year-end wrapping up or archiving of the old year and  planning of the new. It helps me bring my vision into sharper focus and make sure that my goals vision and core values are all in alignment.

These are all good tools and work well if we have a reasonably good idea of where we want to go. I do not believe they work as well for the thousands of people who only know what they do not want, what they want to move away from. These then are the people who search for answers in the personal development field, don’t find the answers and don’t achieve their goals.

Most of the discussion and writing on vision describe it as a destination. A state of beingness that will demonstrate that we have achieved our goals, accomplished what we planned, that we have arrived.

That, I believe is why so many people like K struggle to create, imagine or believe their own vision. They are trying to create a finished painting without knowing what should be in it.Painting vision

What if, I asked her,  we approached creating our vision the way an artist might start a painting on a blank canvas.

Let’s imagine for instance that the parts of our vision we can visualise include a house next to a lake and flowers. Right now we are not completely sure about the design of the house or all the types of flowers we will have in our garden.  What we do know is that we want a house with a red roof and white walls. We would also like yellow marigolds and red tulips for some of the flowers.Vision

Assuming we have all the tools, paint, easel, can we complete the painting with just these few ideas for what should go in it? No definitely not, but we can make a start. We can sketch in a house with a red roof and white walls, a lake and flower beds with yellow marigolds and red tulips. We can start the painting with just one flower.

We can start the first flower by sketching one leaf, one stem or one petal, then we can go on to finish that flower, then the next, then all the flowers, the lake, the house and whatever else we can see in our vision.

The point I am making is that we approach vision as a destination not a journey or in another way of looking at it, a never-ending-work-in-progress not a finished masterpiece. Then the  first brush stroke for the first flower on the painting is more important than the finished painting.

By making that first brush stroke, we have something to move towards, we can set goals to get there, we can take action.

Waiting for our complex vision to unfold in glorious Technicolor 3D images means that we do not take action.Nothing happens and a year or more into the future, we are still wondering why we can’t picture our vision or achieve our goals.

Another important benefit of seeing our vision as a journey or like an eternally improving painting is that as we start being, doing and having more of our vision we change.

“The major value in life is not what you get. The major value in life is what you become.” – Jim Rohn

In the painting analogy, when the house is built, the garden full of flowers and the bush cleared around the lake, we might discover that we would prefer a bigger lawn. We might decide that we can’t bear the mosquitoes from the lake and that we would prefer to live in the mountains. No problem, change the painting, keep what serves us and paint in the new parts of the vision.Building vision

It’s only after achieving all the goals we needed to build that house by the lake that we discovered we liked the mountains better. We might never have discovered that if we had not had the first vision and set out to bring it into reality.

One book on goals that is different and I found very useful is Noah St. John’s
The Secret Code of Success: 7 Hidden Steps to More Wealth and Happiness

Wishing you success in all your endeavours.

Peter Wright

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  1 comment for “Vision and Goals – Destination or Journey

  1. June 14, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    LOVE your article Peter! Being where I am in my life today, I don’t always realize what other people may be dealing with in their lives, facing the challenge of trying to figure out where to go next for a better happier life.

    Indeed it took me a lot of time to figure it out myself. I was there once myself. I need to go back to the basics to feel the dynamics for someone who is just starting the journey. Realizing that the potential for a happier existence does exist for all of us is a big step.

    Your article opened my eyes to this reality and will help me offer better support to my readers!! Thanks!

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