Not Sure How to Make Your Vision a Reality? Here’s What To Do.

The thing I like best about my client is that have big visions. I like big visions. They’re my version of skydiving.

Big visions have a unique set of problems associate with them, though.

1. They’re intimidating. Like standing at a the foot of a mountain, looking at the peak you plan to climb, your primary thought might simply be, “Look at the size of that sucker!” It can be easy psych yourself out.

2. They’re motivating in the abstract, but in the moment, they’re less compelling than, say, watching The Daily Show

3. There’s no clear, self-evident way to get from point A to point B. Nope, it looks like you’ll need to bushwack. And bushwacking? Well, let’s just say you’d have to be a little crazy not to be looking for an easier way.

So big visions are intimidating, unmotivating, and don’t have a clear-cut solution. But that’s why they’re so much fun. They’re like a puzzle box!

To Solve the Puzzle:

Write a long description of your vision. You want at least a page, and two would be ideal. Keep writing. Write about how this vision affects other aspects of your life, such as relationships or spirituality. Most of all, write about how it feels to live this vision. Serene? Exciting? The feeling is the most important aspect.

Identify the Essentials and the Nice-to-Haves

Now, look at the specifics of your vision. Reflect. Which ones are absolutely *essential* to feeling the way you want to feel? Some, like “working for myself” might be a hard requirement for a feeling of ‘independence’ and ‘like I can decide where and how I want to spend my time.’

But something like, “I will be earning $80K/yr” might be a “nice to have”, especially when you refine what that $80k supposedly buys you, like “I’ll be able to go on three three-week vacations per year” or, “I’ll be able to pay for yard service so I don’t have to mow the lawn”. Especially differentiate the ‘nice to haves’ that are just one of many possible ways for you to have what you want.

People often think they know what they want; ‘I want to be happy.’ ‘I want supportive and healthy relationships.’ But in concrete, real world terms, they have no idea what that means. It’s like getting your heart set on having a Victorian house. Why do you want a Victorian house? Lots of reasons. They’re usually in stately old neighbor hoods with mature gardens and big trees. They have high ceilings and exquisite craftsmanship. Most of all, they have a certain elegance and graciousness to them that you want to associate with.

So sure, you could save up and buy a nice Victorian. But maybe a Craftsman-style home would make you just as happy. Maybe a loft in an old refinery would be good, as long as it was near a park. There are LOTS of ways to be happy, so don’t get fixated on any one.

Pick a Path and Start Walking

Ok, so now you have your vision. You know the reasoning behind your vision. But here you are, still stuck in park. You have even more choices than before! Oh no, now you’re even more paralyzed!


Having made the point that there are lots of ways to be happy, and to get what you want, I hope that’s taken the pressure off of you to make the Right Choice. There’s not just One True Path that you must not forsake at any cost. There’s a plethora of ways to get there. All you have to do is get moving. You don’t even have to make sure that it’s in the right direction.

You just have to pick a likely direction. Big visions don’t have straight paths associated with them, remember? If you get to a better vantage point, you can adjust. But get moving.

Do you have a story about the zigzagged road to an unlikely outcome? Share in the comments!


22 thoughts on “Not Sure How to Make Your Vision a Reality? Here’s What To Do.”

  1. I think you and I are very similar in our ability to come up with big visions. I spent most of my teenage years thinking of grand ideas for businesses, travel plans, and other random ideas but never knew how to get there. I hesitated on starting my own business because I never could commit to any of my ideas- I was unsure if any of them were “the one”.  
    Sometime in my twenties I realized that if I didn’t start something, then I’d just be stuck where I was forever. That laid the groundwork for Cloud Coach and then again for the Tiny House project. Now I’m walking the path away from where I was, but am not completely sure where I’m going. I have a pretty good idea though 🙂

    1.  @ethanwaldman I think that pressure to choose the Right Thing is immense– not even just for ourselves, but for what others will think of us. Glad you broke the mold 🙂

  2. What a timely, well-written post! My wife and I have been through several of these BIG vision items, including working for ourselves which we now do, and they are fun, lots of fun. I think these ideas are intimidating because of the other two reasons associated with them. Once we began developing some efficacy with BIG visions, we realized that practice is key. So we encourage each other to voice off-the-wall ideas because we have seen over and over that they may actually happen with two motivated nuts.

    1.  @cjrenzi That’s awesome! It does help to have a lot of practice; to a certain extent, big visions are simply a test of your tolerance for uncertainty– if you want what everyone else has, you can just do what everyone else is doing, but if you want something different, well. But it’s great to tackle these things with a partner!

  3. Until recently, I was very afraid of big visions. I figured I’d only fail to reach them, which would make me look silly, so why bother? I also didn’t really know what sort of big vision I might actually want enough to go for it.
    Reading your post echoed a lot of my own experience over the past few months, in terms of figuring out what, exactly, you want and then getting started. I don’t really have any stories yet, as nothing I’ve gone for has really been “big” — though I’m starting to head in that direction more now. I like the idea of essentials and nice-to-haves. That might help, since right now it feels exactly like standing at the bottom of a mountain staring up at the peak I’m aiming for 🙂

  4. Separating the “nice to haves” from the wants, and separating the wants from the needs, is one of life’s greatest challenges. Well, at least in America. So many cultures don’t need help defining what falls into each category, but many of us have become so entitled that we struggle with it. I’m ending this rant before it really starts for our collective good.
    I’ll say this though: the last two-and-a-half years has been a giant zig zagging road for me. And it feels awesome! Sometimes I’ll even pick the path with the most “zags” just to go on a fun adventure and see where it leads. But I can afford that level of uncertainty because of the vision I’ve created for myself and my family. Oh, and I also got them to buy into the vision which kind of helps. I’m keeping this intentionally general to avoid my longest comment of all-time. There’s probably a better place for story time.

  5. Ohh, I’ve been on a zigzag road for quite some time. I try to be flexible with how my ideas evolve. Big visions do freak me out a little, though. It’s hard to imagine pulling it off, unless I enough support.

    1.  @deniseurena Big visions are challenging to me *because* they require that support. You have to go from being independent, to being interdependent, and it’s a TOTALLY new paradigm, and one I really struggle with.

  6. hahaha, I love the question. I like the think of my whole life as a zigzagging road to an unlikely outcome… when I start feeling like I’m “starting from square one” and getting overwhelmed by that image, I try to remember all the things that have come before and all the ways my journey to being a professional stage manager and then on to working at a non-profit have actually given me more information about what I want and led me further down the path to finding that ideal whatever-it-is (I’m trying to avoid “destination” metaphors but it’s challenging when using road analogies!!)
    I’m not on a new road… I’ve just come around yet another bend. 🙂 

    1.  @sarahemily I sort of like to think of my life a serial tv show. You know, like Xena? There’s a big, overarching theme, but also a bunch of smaller adventures. As long as I keep thinking of it as an adventure, I’m fine 🙂

      1.  @Shanna Mann you know, my friend Stewart was talking about a community for people who view life as episodic… I’m starting to think we’re a special breed. 

        1.  @sarahemily If by special you mean Joss Whedon fanboys who follow George Takei and Wil Wheaton on twitter, and who would TOTALLY show up in cosplay outfits anywhere it’s even marginally acceptable to do so, then yes. Yes we are. 😀

        2.  @Shanna Mann I have never shown up in a cosplay outfit anywhere…. this may well be the only shred of dignity I have left. 
          Does it make it better that all the mainstream folk are starting to follow GT? 

        3.  @Shanna Mann oh, I dress up for halloween… I just never referred to it as cosplay. But considering I once dressed up as a character from the Wheel of Time and only one friend of mine had any idea what I was, I might be splitting hairs here…. 

        1.  @sarahemily Personally, I’m much more of a Tomb Raider fan, but it didn’t make my point as well. Also I thought Relic Hunter was better than Xena, but it didn’t last as long. I’m actually not sure if it even made it out of Canada, but it was like a female Indiana Jones. I like “archaeology”

  7. These are great tips Shanna and are pretty similar to what I talk over with clients – especially the “why”s/essentials behind the what. I think most people don’t ever stop and think that much behind their goals – which we all know is an awful idea since humans are notoriously (and scientifically proven to be!) bad at figuring out what will make us happy. My favorite line: “You just have to pick a likely direction. Big visions don’t have straight paths associated with them, remember? If you get to a better vantage point, you can adjust. But get moving.” You know I love it when people just get moving 😉 

    1.  @bombchelle Thanks! I love all the data on why people are bad at decision making. You can’t ever be perfect at it, but at least you can start by identifying likely blindspots. And as always, a bias towards action is probably the best thing you can have going for you. 

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