Why Vision is Critical to Your Success

A number of times over the last week, I have had conversations around goals.  It’s that time of year, right? We are tying up our 2014 projects and starting to reflect on what we want to achieve in 2015.  I love this time of year.  It's dream BIG time. why vision is critical (1)

Often the conversations I have around goals are two fold.  One, people ask me about creating SMART goals.  Two, people ask me how they can ensure they achieve the goals the set.  Somehow throughout the year a waywardness takes over and motivation starts to falter.  For some, this time of year is a time of panic as they realize their goals aren't met.

Believe it or not, I think it's our heavy reliance on SMART goals that trips us up.

In case you don’t know what a SMART goal is, it is a theory in goal setting that says your goals need to be: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timebound.  And they do need to be all those things but it’s not enough to ensure success.

Have you ever set a goal that was specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timebound but STILL didn’t meet the goal?

Maybe it was a lack of motivation that prevented the goal from happening.  Lack of support.  Failure to take into account your available resources.  There can be circumstances beyond your control.  Perhaps you set too many SMART goals.  Any number of things can conflict with goal achievement.

The biggest problem with SMART goals is they are like the hole in a donut - the middle.  Without a  beginning and an end, they just hang out there adrift.

How many times have you set SMART goals and felt adrift?

I have.  Many times.  It wasn't too long ago, where I would stare at the same goals year after year.  Each December,  I would pull out the journal and write the same goals from the previous year.  The inertia was stifling and demotivating.

An interesting thing happened to me this year.  Half way through 2014, my life went topsy turvy forcing me to abandon some of my goals.  I am not going to lie, I spent quite a number of weeks feeling sorry for myself.  It was frustrating wanting to progress with my plans and feeling held back.

After I licked my wounds, I stuffed my sorries in a sack and moved forward.  Relentlessly.  That’s how I would describe my 2014.  Relentless forward progress.  Win after win after win.

Now, part of this is mindset but I have never had a year like this before.

So what's different now?

I connected with what Leaders, Captains of Industry and Professional Athletes have know all along.  I drew the connection between my work with others and myself.  I strongly aligned with my personal vision.

Vision is critical to success.  Not necessarily SMARTer goals.  I have a clear, well defined, rehearsed VISION!  This vision is aligned to my values - the very core of who I am.  It is so powerful that I can go almost an entire year "off plan" and STILL make RELENTLESS forward progress.

Are you advocating for not establishing goals? Absolutely not.  Goals are important but vision is CRITICAL.

Why? Visualization, mental imagery, or creating vision creates new neural pathways in the brain.  This research has come out of the fields of Cognitive Psychology and research being done on Neuroplasticity.  Carol Wilson notes in her book Performance Coaching that "In terms of these neural pathways, the brain is now said to be unable to distinguish between fact and fiction, whic is why we cry during sad movies and feel fear during thrillers.  Imagining an experience will create new pathways in the same way as if the event had actually taken place."

Creating a well rooted vision can be a challenge. Creating a well rooted vision requires us to take what is intangible and make it tangible.  If you are interested in working on your personal vision, you can try these suggestions:

  • Sometimes its easier to establish a short-term vision.  Maybe start with a year from now instead of 10 years from now.
  • Use all your senses.  What do you look like? What do you feel like? Who are you with? What have you accomplished?  How are you celebrating? Use sight, sound, touch, taste, smell.  Get descriptive.  Get creative.
  • Use the present and affirmative tense.  For example, I am wildly successful at __________.  I am wearing________. I am in my office meeting with_______.  I hear the crowd cheering for me as I cross the finish line.
  • Journal your vision.  Writing it out helps make it more tangible.  Cut out pictures.  Draw your vision.  Spend 10 minutes a day working on your vision journal until it becomes real.

I want to encourage you all to shoot for the stars in 2015.  Make your dreams a reality.  You can make it happen!

[tweetherder]Whether you think you can't or you think you can, you're right - Henry Ford[/tweetherder]

Share your experience with vision and goal setting in the comments below.

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