Do you know who you want to be? In 1 year? In 5 years? Do you know what relationships you want to have? What job? What hobbies? Do you know where you want to live? Do you know how you want to look? Perform?
The first step in our psychology chapter is creating a compelling vision and it’s something I bet most of our readers skip right over. I don’t blame them, it sounds like psycho-babble self-help bullshit if you don’t take time to think about it. I hate that stuff, too. We try to convince our readers as to the importance of having a compelling vision by quoting Stephen J Kraus:
“Envisioning our future selves is not only common, it actually plays an important role in our performance and our psychological well being. Far from idle daydreams, images of our future lives contribute to our self-esteem, our happiness, and the sense that we can control our own destinies. Moreover, empirical research backs up the very old notion that those who envision themselves as successful perform better, particularly if they envision themselves as being successful as a result of their own hard work. Future selves provide concrete ways of understanding how accomplishing our goals will change our lives, boosting motivation (p.40).”
I recently revisited Kraus’s book and was reminded of the rest of the vision section, having been in need of some vision searching myself lately. Two things became readily apparent:
- Creating a vision takes some serious introspection and will most likely make you uncomfortable. In fact, I would go so far as to say if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not doing it right.
- Conflicting visions are deadly to achieving goals.
Why would creating a vision of your future self make you uncomfortable? You have to decide what you really want out of life, which causes you to reflect on your priorities – both the priorities you think you have and the ones you actually have. It causes you to recognize fears you have and how they’re standing in the way of you getting what you want. Then you ask yourself whether or not you have the ability to overcome those fears. You are forced to think about what things in your life really make you happy and often you find it’s not what you expect, not if you’re being honest with yourself. You may even start to realize how much other people’s opinions influence how you think about yourself, even though you think you’re unscathed by their remarks. It’s an uncomfortable experience, but you come out refreshed on the other side (the results justify the effort/discomfort).
I’ve spoken about conflicting visions with just about every person I’ve coached, in one way or another, over the past few years. I think it comes up so often because we compartmentalize our lives in our minds, focusing on one area or another at a time and ignoring the overlap. For instance, consider the following scenario:
Flo knows she wants to achieve the following:
- Rise to upper-level management in her company.
- Raise 3 wonderful kids the way her parents raised her.
- Train for and compete in marathons and other distance events.
While these aren’t directly conflicting visions, parts my overlap and will require a good amount of planning to occur simultaneously. 60+ hour workweeks will be required to rise in her company, long training runs will chew up much of her free time, and can we even really put a tag on how many hours it takes to raise 3 kids? What Flo must do is decide whether these are simultaneously achievable and if not, which of these align most with her true priorities. Maybe she can modify one or two so the set is more congruent. Maybe 5k races are more realistic than marathons and will still provide her the challenge, fitness and social outlet she’s looking for.
Let’s consider another example, this time Jake, a 25 year old male who wants to look like a fitness model. He currently as an active social life, going to bars with friends Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Sundays are added to the list during football season. While creating his vision, he may only consider his goal of achieving a fitness model physique, but not think to consider his status as a socialite as part of his overall vision. Here we have an example of an unrealized vision that may conflict with a realized vision. Jake has to consider how his fitness model vision/goal is going to affect other aspects of his life. If not, he may be discouraged in one year when he finds himself struggling to achieve a lowered body fat percentage while maintaining his busy social schedule. He may start to think it’s a lack of willpower holding him back when, in reality, he has two conflicting sets of behaviors happening because of two conflicting visions.
This is far from self-help quackery. A compelling vision will motivate you, help pull you out of setbacks, and guide you toward success. So, spend some time creating a vision of your future self. If you have SPEED, re-read that section in the Psychology chapter. If you feel you need more help, Kraus provides more insight and a few guided questions in his book. This section alone is worth the cost and there is much more great self-success information found there. Good luck!
Kraus, S. Psychological foundations of success. San Francisco. Change Plant Press; 2002.
Oh, and it would be nearly a crime if all this talk of vision didn’t prompt a posting of this: