Remember “the dial,” from last week? One important clarification: the dial is not about making your goals “bigger” in the eyes of the world. It’s not about pumping up the grandiosity of your dreams. It’s about making your vision more wonderful-juicy-too-good-to-be-true…for you.
If you want to run a successful small business, the dial is not about making that dream 25% bigger, and 25% bigger, until you are envisioning yourself running a multi-million dollar corporation. It’s about making your vision closer and closer to the business you really want to run.
Helpful clarification, I hope?
On to part two of this topic: What do you do, once you’ve got your dial-turned-up, I’ve got-to-the-heart-of-what-I-really-want vision?
Quite often, turning up the dial leaves us with a vision that sounds wonderful but laughably unrealistic. Where do you go from there?
Let’s take Leila. After a few turns of the dial, she knows that what she really wants is: to continue to practice law, but half-time rather than full time. And she’d like to do this without changing her salary a bit. She wants time with her three kids and time to rekindle her love of playing music. She also identified that if she could really have it any way she wanted, she’d split her time between living in New York, which she loves because of the music and arts scene, and living in Madison, where her extended family lives.
You can imagine — it took some turning up of the dial to get to this. Most of us wouldn’t immediately have the chutzpah to say, “I’d like to work half time and make the same amount of money,” or float the idea of being “co-located” in two different places, while raising three kids.
So, did I try to convince Leila that her dream was realistic? That she needed to jump into making this dream happen? Is that my job as “life coach?”
Nope. Because a vision is not a to do list for your life.
A vision is a letter. A letter from your heart. A letter about what is longing to be born. A message about what kinds of experiences, what elements, are missing from your life. A message about what you most value and what will bring your happiness.
A vision can be interpreted literally, or in the language of metaphor. We would explore Leila’s desire to live in two different places, but we’d also go deeper, to dig for what she’s really longing for there. We’d find that Leila’s real deep down desire was to have ample expression for two different parts of herself – the dynamic artist (which she felt got expressed in New York) and the caring family member (which got expressed in Madison).
Then we might brainstorm twenty different ways she could give expression to each of these parts – and then Leila would choose those that felt resonant, aligned with her values, and manageable. Just as we interpret symbols from the dreams we have at night, we can interpret the symbols in the waking dreams we have for our lives, our careers, our futures.
A vision is a compass. It’s an ideal. It’s vision. Then there’s life: messy, imperfect, resource-constrained, ego-filled. Life as a human being is about moving between these two worlds — the ideal that we hold and are —within, and the messiness of the world.
That’s why a vision serves as a compass, a guiding light — not as a plan to execute.
What matters is that we are moving toward our vision. That we have stepped fully onto the road of pursuing the dream. That we allow our dreams to be a guiding force in our lives.
Calm, trusting, dedicated action taken from that place will pull us closer to the vision.
A vision is not a to do list. A vision is a message. A vision speaks in metaphor.
Your vision is your compass, not your plan.