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If you want to accomplish as much as you possibly can, the most important thing to get right is the vision or goal you have to begin with. This is essentially the same as setting your trajectory and without a trajectory, you don’t stand much chance of getting to your destination. Unfortunately, many people don’t know how to correctly write goals and this can end up preventing them from standing any chance of success in their chosen field.
And actually, if you’re setting off to write a goal then you’re starting out with the wrong intent to begin with. Because ‘goals’ aren’t really as useful as visions – which is what we’re going to explore here.
The Difference Between a Goal and a Vision
So what’s the difference between a goal and a vision? Essentially, a goal is something that you write down and that is very concrete and simple. A goal may for example be to ‘lose 10lbs in two months’. That’s a goal but it’s also not as effective as a vision designed to the same end.
This same ambition posed as a vision rather than a goal would instead be more the idea of being in shape. You might visualize yourself looking ripped and feeling healthy. You might imagine yourself going for jogs on the beach with your top off in summer and feeling great about yourself. That’s your vision.
A vision can also be an image of yourself standing in an office block and looking out over the world, knowing that you’re in a position of great importance and power.
This is a much more abstract concept that nevertheless helps you to get a picture of what you want and what the emotion behind that goal is.
Why Visions Work Better Than Goals
So why are visions more successful than goals?
For one, goals are not nearly flexible enough. If you have a goal, then this gives you one thing you’re trying accomplish and only one idea of how to get there. If it doesn’t go to plan then you have the freedom to change the steps you’re going to take to get there, or to bend them to fit your current lifestyle, plans and free time.
Another reason visions work better is because they have more emotional content. When you visualize something, the same regions fire in your brain as though it was actually happening. This in turn means that you can actually trigger the emotion as though it were happening. And it’s this emotion we can use to motivate ourselves to go through with plans!
If there is one place where we should be completely free, then it is in our own mind. We might have limitations in terms of what our bodies are capable of and what we’re allowed to do – but our minds should be free to roam wherever we want them to.
Unfortunately, this is not the reality most of us live in. Instead, our thoughts are dictated by our circumstances and those circumstances are largely out of our control. This is why we will often find ourselves feeling dissatisfied and constantly wanting to push forward, rather than stopping to enjoy life and smell the roses.
And without meaning to get political or philosophical, our capitalist lifestyles only reinforce this nature and try to push us faster.
Are You Happy?
Most of us are constantly in a position of slight dissatisfaction. We feel as though there’s ‘one thing’ that could make our lives better and help us to be happier. Maybe we wish we had just a little bit more money, or maybe we wish we had a bigger house. Maybe we want a better job?
Partly this will be encouraged by the media and by the material goods that we want. We want more money so we can play the latest game, wear the latest clothes and post pictures of ourselves on holiday to show to friends.
And we keep working harder and stressing more to try and accomplish these things – in turn keeping the cogs of society spinning.
Making a Change
But now take a think about that game you find yourself wanting. Aren’t there computer games on your shelf right now that you haven’t played yet? Aren’t there free games you could download today and have just as much fun with? Isn’t it just marketing that is pushing you towards that next game and that next expense?
Likewise, ask yourself if having more money would really make you happier. You can travel very cheaply right now – the problem is probably more with leaving work. More responsibility isn’t going to help that!
So how do you make a change and start to be freer and happier right now? The answer is that you change your focus. Instead of fixating on what you don’t have and on what you want, instead start to fixate on what you already have and what you’re grateful for. This is called a ‘gratitude attitude’ and it’s the fastest route to having a satisfying and happy life.
Communications tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.
– Clay Shirky
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