During my 17 year career as a financial planner, trainer and executive coach, I often hear that people are exhausted, and they are exhausted without achieving results. This journey doesn’t necessarily mean a trip, rather it can be the journey to fulfilling careers, wonderful marriages, fulfilled retirements, and fill in your journey here…
People spend long hours at the office, reading self-help articles and books, but their situation hasn’t changed a bit. They are in the proverbial hamster in the wheel, running and running but not getting anywhere. They reached the point of being sick and tired of being sick and tired. Why is that? Why does it seem that the choices we make, the activities we undertake do not lead us to where we want ourselves to be?
Before your First Step, you need….VISION
C’mon, you all have heard that saying, the journey of a thousand miles begin with the first step and we all probably subscribe to this in some form or fashion. Think about this. What if you did take that first step but didn’t clearly define your 1000 mile destination? Where will you end up? You’ll still be exhausted because you traveled so far, yet, you don’t know where you are. So no, the journey begins with vision, your destination.
Sounds easy enough…what goes into creating your Vision?
I believe God created us with wisdom and the unique ability to plan and set vision for the future. Though my wife can argue, based on my grooming habits (hey!); that we are different from animals because we can great vision, goals and execute. It is absolutely critical in making this vision as vivid and as real as possible. Don’t just think that my vision of a successful retirement is being able to travel the world. Think… where do you want to travel? Why did you choose those destinations? How would you feel waking up in the morning under the crisp sunshine overlooking the Eiffel Tower in France? Allow your mind to live at the future moment. The more you can visualize the more your body and mind will take action. You see, our eyes are connected to the part of the brain that gets our body in motion. Whether this vision of some seeing something physically in front of you, or merely in your mind; your ocular nerves connect to the part of the brain that moves you into action. The same goes for your vision of a successful career, a successful marriage…describe it! How will you feel when you accomplish this? How important is this to you? Where do you rank it relative to other demands in your life?
OK, I got my vision…now what?
Once you have vision in place, you create a concrete plan of attack in fulfilling your vision and goal. This isn’t some pie in the sky, oh when I’ll get to it exercise. Rather, these are things you can do and measure that will lead you closer to your goal? There has to be an element of what, when, and how will you do this? If I am striving for a perfect marriage (whatever clear vision I set), one of my action steps could potentially be setting up a date night each week. Let your imagination run wild as to these action steps.
You need to have Integrity
What do I mean by integrity? It is about being true in fulfilling promises, whether these promises are to others or yourself. Remember in your “Vision” activity, you ask yourself how important this goal is relative to other demands in your life? Well, this becomes your guiding compass as to what activities and “to dos” you will undertake. Remember that feeling of being exhausted and not getting closer to your goal? Well, with a clear defined vision and plan of attack, you now have an acid test as to see what you are about to do helps you advance toward your goal. You are now moving with purpose.
Roadmap to Life
By having a clear vision of the “end in mind” you just created the road map to your thousand mile journey. I have read numerous self-help books out there in helping empower individuals to excel in all facets of their life; and the most consistent principle goes back to this “vision of the end in mind.” I strongly recommend Stephen Coveys, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, as one of the books that will have profound and lasting change in your life. This book is to be sipped, savored and acted upon, one principle at a time.