As my husband and I pursue our passions, I find that we enjoy the most energy for that pursuit when we cast a clear vision for ourselves. Vision helps to excite the imagination, spur initiative, and focus efforts.
Even those of us who struggle with grasping hold of a vision need some sort of idea what we look toward in order to not stagnate. We need a goal, even if that goal is fairly fluid.
Today, with thoughts of our future swirling on our heads, I found myself re-energized. The chance to refresh our vision brought a much needed reset for my weary, energy depleted mind. Our hopes, dreams, and goals really didn’t change; we just took the time to focus on them for a moment. We considered practical ways to implement our vision. And we shared it with others.
Without going into too much depth about fellowship, another energizer we will talk about next week, one thing we need to understand when it comes to vision is that it provides the greatest boost in energy when we share it with others. This especially holds true when the people with whom we share it happen to buy into it and offer to help.
Vision can act as a catalyst to create fellowship. It also can hone friendships as we recognize those who will encourage us in the direction of our vision and those who will keep us from our vision. This is not to say that those who don’t encourage us toward our vision are bad friends to have. Sometimes the friends who are most critical of our goals help keep us grounded in the reality that it won’t be easy every day. You won’t always want to sit down and write a thousand words. You won’t always want to go out in the frigid cold just to get maybe one good photo to include in your video project. You won’t always look forward to every business conversation. Someone who reminds you that it will be hard can help keep you from being so high minded about your pursuits that you can’t handle the moments that are difficult.
Sometimes we have to change our direction, and that leaves a particular vision unfulfilled. This may FEEL like failure. It may cause disappointment. But it is not failure. It is just a change in course. That is part of life. Don’t beat yourself up about being disappointed or about having to change directions, but also don’t wallow in the disappointment or change directions just because your first was too hard. Recognize that as life changes and needs change, so do goals. That’s growth, and even when painful, growth is a good and necessary part of life. At times, we must adjust our vision because we realize we sought something unreasonable; that, too, is growth.
Ok, that’s all well and good, but where’s the practical aspect of this?
Vision is good. Vision changes. But… How do we even set a vision?
Each process is different, but there are some commonalities.
1) Dream. What, in general terms, do you want? If money and time were no object, what would you try to accomplish? For example, write.
2) Focus. A dream alone is not bad, but it doesn’t help us really cast a reasonable vision. And if it’s not reasonable, we will not be able to accomplish it. Focus in on an aspect of your dream that you can work on. For example, write a fiction novel that adds a source of income to the household.
3) Research. What do you need to do in order to accomplish your more focused goal? What have other people done? What’s worked? What hasn’t? What have you done that has or hasn’t worked? For example, if you are writing a fiction novel, what do you need to do in order to not just publish it but popularize it to the point that people will buy it?
4) Plan. Vision is great. It’s needed, but to keep it reasonable, one must have achievable goals along the way. This keeps us going. It allows us to experience the sense of accomplishment that makes the ultimate goal feel possible. It also gives us bite sized chunks so that on days of discouragement, we can look at the small things and push the big things out of our mind. But keeping the big thing in mind regularly helps us want to finish the mundane little tasks along the way.
5) This probably should actually come first, but it needs to permeate every step, so I put it last. With every step, we must pray. We must seek the Lord because our vision means nothing if it is only for our own satisfaction. When our vision is meant to honor and glorify God, bring people closer to Him, and share the Gospel with those who don’t know Him, it may not succeed in earthly terms, but it will succeed in God’s terms. We will learn and grow and our vision will change as our desires continue to align more and more closely with the Lord’s. At every step along the way, we must be willing to change our course if it is not presently meeting the ultimate objective of shining Christ to people.
Watch next week for our next energizer, which helps us with this and others: Fellowship.