What is your vision? —in 8 steps

During my study we constantly had this one requirement forced upon us: What is your vision. All I could think was “What type of artistic hippy non-sense is this?” At first I only wrote down my vision because I had to... 
On hindsight I learned that having a vision was incredibly logical, almost engineered, and I honestly believe it to be a vital requirement for anyones life.

From A to B

Start anything, and you are taking steps towards achieving something (even if it is nothing). You start at A and and make your way towards B. But where is B? The destination (or B) is not just one point; but rather a large cloud of possible destinations. All of which are technically correct, but not the destination you were actually looking to achieve. This happens because you did not think well enough about what exactly you wanted to achieve.

A vision is used as a target. Something you aim towards while you make your decisions.

What normally happens when you move through your process is that you start focusing on the details for the current phase you are in. This is great, especially in design, because good design is not in the details; it is the details (loose translation of Ray and Charles Eames’ quote). However, it is this focus on the current moment that pretty much ensures you end up at a sub-optimal destination.

That is why you should take a step back every time a decision needs to be made, so as to get an overview. Look at where you are now, where you were, and what you wanted to achieve. And with that in mind; reflect, and take action on this reflection so that your next step is taken with purpose. If you do this at every step of the way, you are more likely to end up at the destination you were aiming for.

Remember: The more information you have to work with at these decision points, the more informed your steps will be; which = awesomeness!

But this isn’t a vision.

This is setting a personal goal and working towards it. A vision looks further than this current project. It looks further than this year. It even looks further than your whole lifetime. It is the most amazing, most ideal, most perfect goal that you could only hope would be achievable for mankind.

So this is where I lose you because of my hippy nonsense.

Imagine now that this one project you are doing, is just one small decision step of a much larger process (your life). If you do not pay attention to the end goal of your life’s path, you may end up somewhere completely different from where you hoped to be. You will have missed a life. So at each of these decision steps you should look at where you are now, where you were, and what you wanted to achieve, reflect and then take action. This way you can lead a fulfilling life.

But this isn’t vision either.

It is still a personal goal. What makes a vision different from a goal is that it extends beyond you, your time, and your expectation of what is even ever achievable (reality).

A vision is an ideal you (and others) can aim towards, so that all your purposeful steps in life align towards a future that should exist; even if it is impossible.

This is your vision

Your vision is your purpose. Most people go their whole life without ever finding out their purpose. Some people do think about this, but it tends to happen late in life. And since the amount of impact you can make is limited by time, these people too become limited in what they can achieve. That is why it is incredibly important to start thinking about your vision right now!

Do not underestimate your own impact! Imagine what you can achieve if every single decision you make, helps take actual steps towards this purpose; this ideal! Your existence then becomes incredibly valuable in making a better world (even if you don’t believe that of yourself yet).

And then extend this thought further, what if many people were doing this from a young age. The positive impact of us all together would be almighty!

Example: My Vision for Self-Esteem

Someone who takes action, and changes the world, does so because they know why they are important. I believe that by encouraging people to see themselves in the right light, we will create a butterfly effect that will allow thousands of world-changers to blossom. Then it’s not just about my impact, but the impact of an entire world of people who actively contribute to it’s betterment.
However, you cant deal with a persons self-esteem for them. They have to want to make the change themselves. To achieve this, give people the power to ‘magically/playfully’ control their environment with “tools of leisure”. This is because play is how you interact with an environment, and magic is how an environment plays with you. This creates an ‘interaction mirror’ which connects you (the user) with experiences that prove you are a great and capable person; just by using it!
This vision originates from a personal journey i made for improving my self-esteem, which resulted in me seeing the immense change in the impact I could deliver; simply because I believed in myself.

How to: Vision

It is really important to write down your vision. Writing it down forces you to make your vision concrete. When you do this, you focus a vague concept in your mind into a sharp image on paper, that you can actually see and work towards.

You may think, “I don’t really have a vision”. This is common, and is likely only because you have never been asked to think about it before. The first step towards having a vision is awareness. You need to become aware of the things that move you. Be inspired!

What makes you cry with happiness? What makes you laugh in anger? What moves you?

Once you notice these things, group them together and try to spot a pattern. Just one pattern, that is seen in all these topics. Then, follow these steps:

  1. One topic: Make your vision have one topic you want to focus on.
  2. Explain why it’s yours: Make it truly personal. Your deepest and most true reason for pursuing this future.
  3. Choose your steps: Explain how you intend to achieve this vision. In the grander scheme of things there should be a reason why you take action in a certain way.
  4. Grander purpose: What is the grander, societal purpose. Why should your future exist?
  5. Be specific: The words you choose are crucial! Be specific about what you mean and choose the accurate words that match. Using the wrong word could result in you misreading your own vision at a later point, and unintentionally set you on a path away from your purpose.
  6. Be accurate: About whether these are opinions or facts. This is a reality check for you, so that you do not base your vision on assumptions. 
    “Never assume the obvious is true.” — William Safire
  7. Be concise.
  8. Start now: And most importantly, just start! You need to continually practice and perfect your vision. Doing something incorrectly is always better than doing nothing. Don’t procrastinate on your life’s purpose.

Notes: Are you worried?

  • Free Thinking: “But I want freedom to explore and end up somewhere unexpected.” That’s actually fine! Yet even in this case there was a reason why you wanted that. What is that? Just having that in the back of your mind will allow your free exploration to go the right way. For the more experienced users of a vision, allowing yourself to trust your gut first (before checking to see if it is correct) is actually a far more effective and powerful way of approaching a project/life/vision. Just as long as you reflect on your actions.
  • Quick Reality Check: Just because you aim for something doesn't mean you will get it. First it requires dedication, hard work and sometimes talent. But even then it still could end up not going the way you wanted it to, simply because of bad luck or insufficient information. This is the reality of things and you need to accept that you are striving towards something you hope to achieve, instead of get.

Originally published at oooh.studio.