How Vision Benefits Your Life

Being an Everyday Visionary helps you take the shortest path to a happy, fulfilling and successful life. An excerpt from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland points out that if you don't have a vision of where you want to go, you will get somewhere. However, it may take a long time, and you may not arrive where you want to be.

Said Alice, "Cheshire Cat... would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where -" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"- so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "If you only walk long enough."

     You don't need to "walk long enough," as Alice was prepared to do in order to find what you are looking for. It is not required that you take a long arduous journey to find happiness. You can create the shortest path to a rewarding and joyful life through the power of vision.

     Using vision every day, you can travel to places that you want to see, have the home you want, cultivate the relationships you want, and engage in the community-service projects that are most important to you. You can do the work you want. Create your vision, and it will become a beacon, attracting you down the shortest path to what you most desire.

Personal Transformation

     Visioning is important to personal transformation. Transformation means "to change." Vision lies at the beginning of the transformation process. By creating a vision, you give birth to new images of your future. Once you decide how you want things to be in the future and create your vision, you give yourself permission to use your energy, time, and resources to support your transformation.

     However, even though you consciously choose to embrace and move in the direction of change, you may continue to do things as you have always done them. This is normal. Human beings are creatures of habit and prefer to do what is familiar, even though it may not give us satisfaction. This creates a dilemma. You don't want to remain dissatisfied, but if you keep doing what you've always done because it is familiar, you will keep getting what you always got: dissatisfaction. Creating a vision of what you really want to happen will break this cycle.

     Change is a necessary ingredient for vision to work. When you have a vision, you use the changing environment around you as a positive force in your life. Instead of being frustrated by change or seeing it as an obstacle, change becomes a partner, providing the fuel (opportunities) for your dream. In a changing environment, new opportunities that can advance you to your desired future continually present themselves. Your vision helps you identify them.

     Vision Tip: When things are not how you want, stop what you are thinking, feeling, and doing. Focus your thoughts, feelings, and actions on what you most want to happen next. Repeat the thought or feeling over and over again to drown out what you don't want. Become aware of new opportunities that can move you toward how you want things to be. Take action when you think or feel something may move you toward what you desire.

"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."
    -Henry David Thoreau4

     One of the easiest ways for us to change our lives is to become more aware of our thoughts.5 Many theories of psychology hold that what defines reality is our perception of it, our interpretation of it, and the meaning we give to it.6,7,8,9 In other words, reality is subjective and is influenced by our interactions with it.10 Therefore, if we can control our reactions and interpretations, we can exert significant control over our reality.

     William James, a prominent figure in psychology in the early 1900s, said, "The greatest revolution in our generation is that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives." Vision is a tool that focuses our conscious and unconscious thoughts toward a future reality that is in sync with our beliefs and desires.11,12,13

     Alfred Whitehead, an early 1900s philosopher-mathematician, described reality as "a flux whose context is the mind, rather than something tangible - out there." Everything that is human-made was once a thought in someone's mind.14 Reality is a subjective experience and is significantly influenced by the interactions people have with it. The future is not fixed; it is a fluid, ever-changing phenomenon.15,16

     What we create in our minds has a high probability of manifesting in the real world. This does not mean that we necessarily create reality; rather, "we evoke potential that already exists."17 Because our thoughts and vision affect physical outcomes, we must identify our priorities and direct our thoughts toward them. A vision acts as a lens through which to find guidance about whether an opportunity is in line with our purpose and desired future.

Harness the forces of change

"Everything flows, nothing stands still."

One cannot step into the same river twice; one cannot know anyone thing in the world for what it truly is - it is constantly changing.
    - Heraclites1

     Most people think that they are being asked to change more often than they would like. This discomfort with change manifests as anxiety, ambiguity, frustration, and fear.

     There is a saying, "The only thing that is constant is that things change." Nothing stays the same for long. Change is inevitable and can cause uncertainty. To prosper amid uncertainty, you need ways to respond to change that is happening around you. A vision harnesses the forces of change. Vision is a way to counter this discomfort and to make change exciting, fulfilling, and an opportunity for growth and success.

     In any moment, you can be somewhere on a continuum that ranges from resisting to embracing change. If you decide to resist change completely, you may be able to keep it at bay for a while. However, in the fast-changing world that we live in, resisting change can become stressful and undesirable.

     When you have a vision, you gain awareness and insight about what you think is important to you. Your vision is a tool to recognize productive choices about the opportunities that are presented by change. You can then embrace change as a positive force in your life.2,3

Make decision-making easier

     You have many choices to make each day. Your vision is a filter through which you eliminate choices that don't make sense for you. Vision keeps you focused on the opportunities that are more aligned with your desired future. When you are aligned with opportunities that support your vision, making the "right choice" becomes easier.

     When you envision what you want, it becomes easier to choose between what is an impulse and what truly serves you.18,19 Before making an important choice, take a moment to connect to your visions. For example, if your vision is to become debt-free, connect to that vision before you buy something. When you connect to your vision, it will guide you to whether that purchase fits with what is most important to your future.

     With a clear vision, you can feel more confident that the decisions you make will take you in the right direction. This is important because how you actually get to where you want to be may be a winding and indirect path. Unexpected detours and opportunities may arise. Maintaining a clear vision helps you identify which changes are opportunities that will move you toward your desired future.

     Have you ever gone to the grocery store hungry, without a shopping list? You walk down the aisles, putting many different products into your basket on impulse. When you get home and start putting the items into the cupboard, you might wonder, "Why did I buy all of this stuff? I don't even need most of it!" Your vision is a shopping list of what you want from life. As you walk through the grocery store of life with its infinite goodies and options, your vision makes the choices easier.

     When you make a decision you usually have several opportunities to choose from. You can never know for sure if one decision is better than another. But, if you connect to your vision, you can know that your decision was grounded in your best understanding of what will make you the most happy, and satisfied.


1. Heraclites, pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, 500 B.C. From The site is owned by the Wikimedia Foundation. There are thousands of editors, both expert and non-expert, who make contributions to the database. The information on topics is arrived at through consensus. Protocols watch for bad edits, and administrators have the power to withdraw or restrict editing privileges. Wikipedia is not considered a scholarly source, but it provides a good starting point for research.

2. G. Latham, "Visioning: The Concept, Trilogy, and Process," Quality Progress, 1995; April: 65-68.

3. B. Nanus, "Leading the Vision Team," The Futurist, May-June 1996: 21-23.

4. Henry David Thoreau, Walden (Stilwell, KS: Publishing, 2005).

5. M. Ferguson, Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformations in the 1980s (Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher, 1980), 69.

6. A. Adler, Superiority and Social Interest (Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 1970).

7. A. Bandura, Social Learning Theory (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1977).

8. V. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning (Boston: Beacon Press, 1978).

9. A. Thio, Sociology: An Introduction, 3rd ed. (New York: HarperCollins, 1992).

10. M. Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science. Discovering Order in a Chaotic World, 2nd ed. (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 1999).

11. W. Finnie, "A Four-Cycle Approach to Strategy Development and Implementation," Strategy and Leadership Journal, 1997; 24-29.

12. B. Nanus, Visionary Leadership (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publications, 1992).

13. P. Senge, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization (New York: Doubleday Dell, 1990).

14. A. Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas (New York: Mentor Books, 1933).

15. Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science.

16. Senge, The Fifth Discipline.

17. Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science.

18. R. May, Love and Will (New York: Norton, 1969).

19. E. Schein, Process Consultation: Its Role in Organization Development, 2nd ed. (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1988).



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