We already know that we need a long-term plan that can channel all of our efforts towards moving forward and materializing our dreams. So far so good, but how can we come up with it? How to write it down, what are the elements, the structure? Today we will get into all of this.
When there are too many great ideas
Before the “GoalBuddy” system we had so many of these. But they were just up there in the air floating and competing with each other without any real way of being classified and critically examined let alone implemented. That’s why so many of them came to nothing in the end.
Ivan would often find himself in the following situation. He reads about something interesting regarding how to create a passive income stream. And then he would naturally love to give it a try but he didn’t have a system for even kick-starting it.
Usually, he would put it down on a piece of paper, or a sticky. It’s easy to guess how things would eventually unfold…
Today, we have a working mechanism to bring together everything that matters to us. It is what would take care of it all and is called the long-term vision.
In one place
Ever since the birth of the idea for “GoalBuddy” our vision has become the one place where all our acquired knowledge, strategies, and new routines come into focus.
Now we have one. For example, our vision for health is the right place for any approach or routine. We have 5-6 of them, such as going to the gym three times a week, massage at least once a month, drinking two liters of water a day, etc. Any of these, though, can be easily disrupted at some point or another due to an emergency or other unforeseen factors.
But when these good practices are part of something bigger, aka the vision, they will always come back to us.
Let’s never forget:
It gives us the direction in which we have to go for the most important aspects of our lives, i.e. health, family, finances, career, etc. There is no deadline here, but our brains demand one – therefore, the 30 year time horizon.
Nothing stays the same but the vision is the one thing that will not undergo any major transformations over time.
It shouldn’t have anything of transient nature such as trendy diet programs but instead, rely on sound and proven rules. Don’t we all want to be in good general health for the rest of our lives!
Things tend to change
No one would argue against the fact that our attitudes and views evolve with time and changing environment. So, it is only natural that with each 90-day goal completed we get closer to the finish line and then we find out that it looks a bit different now from what it used to be.
So, a vision is far from being set in stone.
What to include
Our recommendation is this:
A vision should reflect everything important to you right now when it looks to be the perfect one for the rest of your life.
But things have to be put in order and carefully organized. Here is how.
We found out that the best approach is to sit down and lay it out in the form of an essay. We describe our plans and course of action with any of the potential issues and challenges. And it’s good to let our imagination free to explore.
Then we fill in the details of the separate elements:
- What we want
- Key achievements
- Skills and habits
# 1 The things we strive for (the short version)
A good illustration is what we want for the “GoalBuddy” system – to help millions of people around the world reach their dreams for a better and happier life.
# 2 Knowing why we are doing it
It’s mandatory to have a clear and unambiguous answer here because, otherwise, we run the risk to go after not what is truly ours but other people’s dreams.
# 3 Key achievements
There is this great word – “milestones”. These are the specific results along the road, very much like the stepping stones you hop on to cross from one bank of the river to the other. For the vision of the “GoalBuddy” project, these were the website, podcast, articles, the book, the mobile application, the workshops, etc.
# 4 New skills and routines
We’ve already discussed at length the relevance of the needed skills and how prudent it is to make this type of investment for the sake of our future.
Of course, it is an on-going process since we can always do more and improve in that respect.
In general, things change for good and it’s quite likely that you will be a better person next year. It’s also crucial for you to do what you believe is right for the observable future.
# 5 Principles
Last but not least, our vision should incorporate all the morals and concepts that govern us.
The reason is very simple – our core value system, which is an indispensable part of what we are, will pretty much stay the same as we progress through life.
What should be the record
We can’t stress this enough – writing down goals is the one thing we can’t do without. The same is true for the vision – it has to be done “black on white”.
We are asked over and over again what the best way is. There are many options.
You might be very much like Ivan, who loves the feeling of turning the pages of a notepad, and therefore put everything on paper. Or, you can download, print out and fill in our template in the Goal Setting Guide.
Perhaps one advantage is that we are simply more comfortable at transferring our emotional state using a pen rather than the keyboard. In any case, this could be a good idea for your first draft.
There is a downside, however – the risk that our effort will get lost or accidentally destroyed with time. So, let’s look at the alternative.
The electronic copy
The most convenient way to store information is in an application that is readily available regardless of the circumstances. Niki prefers Evernote, GTD and Google Docs because he can access them from all devices and easily share them with Ivan. However, since the creation of our own mobile app (free at the App Store and Google Play), we never looked back!
One big plus is that it is much easier to do all kinds of edits during the quarterly review. You can add to it, layout new techniques and concepts as well as get rid of what does not work for you in a good way.
What do we mean?
The power of words
Over time, we have become increasingly convinced how important it is not only what we think or say, but also how we write it down.
This is valid for both the specific 90-day goals (where the wrong choice of words can ruin the whole thing – SMART goals are one very telling illustration) as well as for the long-term vision.
There will always be some tricky moments, but we’ve designed and used some effective tactics to deal with them.
Right now or later
Only recently did Ivan realize he was misusing future tense. So, he corrected:
- “I WILL be healthy.” became “I AM healthy.”
- “I WILL have a home that brings happiness and comfort” got to be “I HAVE a home that brings happiness and comfort.”
Can you feel the difference?
When we use the “will” particle, we compare what we are in right now with some ideal situation which is far way in the future. We assume that all of this is still ahead of us. The focus is on the result, or the absence of it, not the progress towards this same result. On the other hand, if we are using the present tense we are trying to reprogram our mind to actively look for new ways how to reach an objective right now and right here.
There is something else of significance:
If we think in the line of “I will” then we are more likely to put off for later any action.
That’s why we like so much the saying “Fake it till you make it”. If you feel down, for example, then try to straighten up you back and bring the chin up. You will feel much better immediately. Of course, there is something else for your confidence which is way more preferable. It is to take responsibility for our vision into the present, the “right now” moment.
Often, we are tempted to express the objectives through a negative. It’s a very human thing to pay all of our attention to the bad stuff. “I am having too much coffee”, “I am giving up the sweet stuff”, or “I won’t be staying late”, etc.
All of these come right out of our own experience. Ivan has long been aiming at getting rid of these unhealthy habits. But there is some unproductive “psychology” at play here. Every parent knows that if you tell your child “Don’t run!” the very next moment they will be doing exactly the opposite.
The use of negatives puts a limitation on you. Instead of something which is inspiring it does restrict you with a sense of foretold failure. “Don’t look left, don’t look right, just go forward!” isn’t the most motivational thing you can tell yourself.
We have to learn to be open to the positives if we want the vision to do its work for us. So, Ivan started thinking “I drink only one cup of coffee, I eat well, I go to bed on time”.
Not forgetting for a moment what matters
Every three months we review the 90-day goals and the vision. Two things are happening throughout this process. First, we have the opportunity to make small adjustments and refinements. And second, we are constantly reminded in our daily life where we are going and the reasons for that.
But let’s go a step further!
If every day you take a quick look at your vision, you will make sure that it’s always on your mind and thus it influences pretty much anything you do. Things like visualization and meditation can be especially helpful.
Let’s summarize now
Having a long-term and well-thought plan is the best we can do for our dreams. It will allow us to take control and start living with a purpose and in a meaningful way. We will know that every day we are making one small but a successful effort and thus becoming little by little a better version of ourselves.
It’s a must that the vision is spelled out in a written form. We badly need to review it regularly so that it never gets crowded out by the responsibilities and commitments of everyday life. It should encompass everything of value for us by describing the main driving forces in our lives as well as the true reasoning behind them. It is also a great record of our bigger achievements, all the new skills and habits we acquired plus the strategies that we developed. But above all, the vision reflects perfectly our philosophy of life.