Let’s start with vision. Are you a vision or a goal person? Or maybe you like both? Or neither?
I definitely fall in the vision camp, even though I’m a coach, and I know I’m supposed to love goals. Maybe there is a place for each, but more often than not, I find vision more expansive and goals more limiting.
To me a vision comes from the imagination, allowing yourself to dream and consider what might be possible. When I’m forming a vision, I’m considering how I want to feel. I may not have all of the details, but I give myself permission to paint a picture in my mind and feel in my heart what it is that I’m wanting. A vision is something I breathe into as I breathe life into it. It fills me, and I hold it. But, I don’t necessarily “work” at it. I conjure it, and I hold it in my heart. I put it out to the Universe, and I go about my business.
Of course, there are steps I have to take along the way. I can’t just sit on the couch eating bon bons and expect things to materialize, and yet, I’ve also found that it doesn’t necessarily take hard work to bring things into reality.
Real Life Example
I just came across a notebook I had been gifted in 2016 that had space for me to write down a mantra for the year, my top 5 values, a vision statement and a personal and professional mission statement. Then I could record various goals I had, stating why they were important to me, a projected completion date, and an action plan with lots of blocks for steps.
Here’s where I see a distinction between goal and vision. Stating the goal (or thing I desire in my life) and naming why it’s important to me feel like vision. Giving it a projected completion date is a blend of vision (I don’t know, but this seems realistic…) and goal (I will have it completed by ___). The action plan is where we name steps toward achieving that completion date.
The cool thing is as I look back at this book from 6 years ago, the very first goal I didn’t even remember naming at that time was to have a home on a lake. Why? “Because on the water is where I find my greatest peace, align with my spirit, and tap into my highest creativity.” I gave myself a projected date of 2021 – 5 years out. Why? Because the truth was, I thought this was a pipe dream. I wanted it, but I didn’t really think it would ever happen. I thought I was writing and boldly declaring something outlandish. We had NO desire to move again, I didn’t know if my husband was on board, and I didn’t think we could afford it.
So, even my vision was kind of wishy-washy, but I felt the call in my heart and soul, so I let myself put it down anyway.
My action steps (most which were never taken):
1. Begin a savings plan specifically for this goal,
2. Talk to my husband, Tom, to be sure he’s on board, and
3. Create a vision board to bring this dream into reality.
Why is this so cool?
1. Because within a short time I forgot I had even written it down,
2. Because I only took one of those action items (the only one I really needed to which was talk to Tom), and
3. Within a year we were getting our house ready to sell, and 3 months later we had closed on our lake home! “Goal” met 4 years earlier than my wild projection!
It was NOT the home I would have envisioned originally, but it’s a home that supports our life in a wonderful and affordable way. The beautiful thing about vision is there’s room for it to unfold, evolve, and emerge. Had I set a goal, we might not be in this place because I wouldn’t have found the home that checked all of the boxes I thought I wanted.
Which brings us to Vows…
I first considered vows in the way I now understand them when I was taking the Now What?® Coaching training with Laura Berman Fortgang back in 2013. We created a brief life history, and Laura invited us to notice any vows we may have made that were still driving our decisions and behaviors.
Vows sound like “I will NEVER be, do, feel…” They may have worked for a while, but because they are a reaction to the past, they may no longer serve us. They operate subconsciously, so until we take the time to see them, they may actually impede the life we want. When we can see and name them, we become free to choose – do I still want this force dictating my choices?
Some common vows:
“I will never be like my father.” “I will never be poor.” “I will show them! Prove what I’m made of!” “I will never be a statistic!” “I will be the best mom ever and my kids will be my everything!” “I will change the world!”
If there’s a vow that requires you to prove something, it may drive you to work harder, gather more degrees or credentials, and achieve beyond what you really want or need.
Vows may wear you down as you allow yourself to be silently and unknowingly driven by the past. And vows can get in the way of your vision.
If my vow had been “I will ONLY live in a house that’s ____ size on ____ lake and it will have X, Y, and Z” I’d probably still be back in my suburban home with my miserable neighbor, where I would have been very sad riding out the pandemic.
Maybe I wouldn’t have even let myself look at anything that didn’t fit predefined narrow parameters. There would have been no room to play with possibilities that eventually carried us across hundreds of miles to at least 5 different lakes, looking at homes of all sizes in all conditions. We would never have considered our current home.
What visions do you hold, personally and professionally?
Do you see any vows that are alive and well that might not be serving you very well?