Four Steps to Harnessing the Power of Vision
I’m sure you are busy. Who isn’t? The question is, what are you so busy about? Too often, we get caught up with our everyday responsibilities that we don’t take the time to ask ourselves what all this running about is for. Regardless of what work you do each day, what matters most is that what you are working toward is truly meaningful and inspiring to you—that you have a vision that leaves you feeling purposeful and powerful in every aspect of your life.
Why? Because a vision can unleash enormous power. Not only does a vision act as a compass to guide your choices and allow you to see opportunities you might otherwise miss, but it brings greater meaning to your present circumstances, and it empowers you to deal more effectively and courageously with the future challenges life presents to you.
Helen Keller once said, “The most pathetic person is one who has sight but no vision.” The fact is that in any aspect of your life where you have no vision, you also have no power. Without a vision to work toward, you can end up being like a rudderless ship sailing aimlessly through life, settling for less than you’d really like and moving in whatever direction requires the least toil and short-term discomfort—mental, emotional, or physical. Accordingly, people who have no vision often find themselves
- spending years doing things they don’t truly enjoy
- making choices that are driven by self-doubt and fear
- saying yes to nearly every request, offer, or opportunity that comes along because they can’t think of any better way to fill their days
- blaming their lack of success or happiness on external factors rather than taking responsibility for their experience of life
- failing to fulfill their full potential and ultimately living a much smaller and less fulfilling life than they could have
If you think of people who have achieved something truly great in the world—for instance, Mother Theresa, Mandela, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King—you will note that what distinguished them from others was the size of their vision. They were born ordinary people, but by having the courage to dream big dreams, dreams that propelled them into powerful action, they became extra-ordinary. Ultimately, a great vision brings out the greatness in he who holds it.
So what vision do you have for your life? What difference would you like to make in the lives of those you care about and in the world in general? What could you do with your time, energy, and talents each day over the next 10, 20, or 50 years which, when you arrived in the twilight of your life, would leave you feeling a deep sense of fulfillment? The fact is that you have no choice in the matter of your death, but you do have a choice in the matter of how you live. The rest of your life will pass by regardless of what you choose to do with your time each day, so why not spend it doing something that would immeasurably enrich your experience of being alive (not to mention the lives of those around you)?
No matter how great or “un-great” your life is right now, I challenge you to ask for more out of life and to give more to it. However much you have accomplished or failed to accomplish up until now, you are capable of much more than you think. Don’t let your doubts keep you playing small, don’t let your fears stop you from aiming high, and don’t let your feelings of inadequacy about your ability to turn your vision into a reality deter you from getting started. Once you have connected with something that inspires you deeply, you will find within you all the courage you need to step boldly into action and to stay the course toward that which tugs on your heart and beckons you forward. After all, courage is not the absence of fear, but action in the presence of it.
Michelangelo once said, “The greater danger is not that our hopes are too high and we fail to reach them, it is that they are too low and we do.” Life is short. Dare to dream bigger dreams, and trust in the wisdom that created you that whatever direction they may take you, you have both the courage and ability to travel. In the end, it matters not whether you manage to achieve your vision, but that you had the courage to pursue it in the first place. For at the end of the day it is the vision, if reached or not, that makes great the life.
Four Steps to Harnessing the Power of Vision
1. Write it down. On a clean sheet of paper, write the heading “(YOUR NAME) DREAMS BIGGER!” Then for each of the areas of your life listed below, write your answers to the questions that follow.
Career/Business, Relationships, Financial, Health/Well-being, Recreation/Leisure, Home, Environment, and Community Service
- Casting yourself ahead 10 years from now (you can make it more or less if you’d prefer), describe how this aspect of your life would be for you to feel extremely good about yourself
- How would this be an improvement to how you feel about this aspect of your life now?
- What would need to change for this part of your life to be the way you wanted it to be?
- How will you feel 10 years from now if you take no action in this area of your life (and so, by default, it continues on the way it has up until now)? Describe the personal cost on your senses of well-being, happiness, and peace of mind
2. Create an action plan. List the first few actions you can take (however small) that will move you closer toward your vision in each of these aspects of your life. Then put a date beside each one indicating when you will have it done.
3. Design a supportive environment. Write down what you can do to create an environment around you that will support you and hold you accountable to staying in action toward your vision. For example, share your vision with a friend, find a mentor, hire a coach, join an association or group of individuals with a similar vision, attend seminars that empower and inform, or read great books (like Find Your Courage!).
4. Schedule time-outs. Regularly allocate time to reconnect with your vision (and to update it in whatever way inspires you most deeply) as well as to update your action plan. Then honor your commitment to yourself as you would any other.