Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?” The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?” “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it? ― Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Businesses spend thousands of dollars and countless hours creating strategic plans. Leaders spend hours crafting vision statements, sharing their vision, and trying to gain buy-in to the vision. Why? Because having a compelling vision of the future is a strong motivator.
A vision statement is a look into the future. More than that, it is a glimpse of what an organization can achieve if everything goes to plan. If multi-million dollar organizations place so much emphasis on creating snapshots of the future, why shouldn’t you?
I recently asked a potential client what her goals were and she said that was a great question and no one had asked her before. She was an intelligent entrepreneur, but she was so overwhelmed by the demands of the day-to-day grind that she hadn't considered the future. And she is not alone.
She was racing headlong into what I call an accidental future. Google "accident" and it isn't pretty. On second thought, just take my word for it. An accident is defined as "an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury." That's what it feels like when we look up after decades of hard work to find that we are pretty much in the same place. We have gone around in circles making progress in some areas but not the holistic progress we would have hoped for. We feel like we were hit by a truck.
A compelling vision keeps you from sleepwalking into an accidental future. Take a moment today to look 10 years down the road. Yeah, 10 years. Because what you can put up with for 3 years is vastly different from what you want your life to look like in 10 years.
When you don’t know where you are going you usually end up somewhere you didn’t expect. So let's take the ambiguity out of our future and intentionally select our destination. Caution: don’t confuse a vision statement with an action plan. A vision statement is a high-level picture of your perfect future. An action plan is a boots-on-the-ground strategy to achieve the vision. To give you an idea of what your vision statement could be I wrote this:
In 10 years I am still head-over-heels in love with and happily married to my georgeous wife. Our business has skyrocketed and we have exceeded all our financial goals. We just purchased our beachfront home in St. Maarten where we spend most of the year. I have all of the success I can handle and I couldn’t be more excited about the future. My children are all independently wealthy and we are enjoying our grandchildren immensely.
Make sure your vision is aspirational. Your vision statement should reflect your best self and most perfect future with no limitations and no small thinking. Where do you live, somewhere tropical perhaps? Who have you become? A great parent, a patient spouse, a trusted friend? Who is enjoying this future with you? How is your health? How much money is in the bank?
Be clear and specific about the destination. The better you create the target, the easier it will be to hit. What does your perfect future look like? What will your big concerns be when you achieve this vision? What type of lifestyle are you enjoying? Where are you vacationing? Are you able to visit family? Have you achieved your vision of success as an entrepreneur, homeowner, vice president, CEO, chief of police, or the executive director of a non-profit?
Your vision should get you moving today! It should be future that excites you enough to jump out of bed an hour early to make it happen. What about your vision makes you want to get to work right now?
Here's the big question: What changes do you need to make today so that you can realize your vision over the next 10 years? What is your compelling vision of your future?