How to Keep Your Goals from Stunting Your Growth


Ask any corporate executive what their goals are, and they’ll likely describe targets they’re shooting for or milestones they aim to hit along the way. Goals are easy – they’re often prescribed or assigned. They’re logical and analytical and concrete.

But ask someone what their vision is, and you’ll likely get a whole different reaction.

Visions are amorphous – they require us to go beyond linear thinking to engage the heart. Vision requires us to check in with what we really want and why – to envision possibilities that we may not yet know how to achieve.

And vision is what activates the energy in people and organizations necessary to persevere through the tough stuff in service to something meaningful and compelling.

If you compare a vision to a goal, it may seem like pie in the sky.  Visions are dreamy portrayals of what is possible. Goals on the other hand are rigid and time bound and practically pragmatic. We often place too much emphasis on goals and bypass vision altogether, which leads us to constrain ourselves and put a lid on what we could otherwise conceive and achieve.

What visioning offers that goal setting hinders is the ability to think big. It allows you to transcend what you believe is possible to envision a future without knowing exactly how you will get there.

And that is really important. Because if all you do is what you already know, you will fail to create anything innovative or groundbreaking.

The Wright brothers didn’t know how they would get their creation to fly. NASA didn’t know how to put a man on the moon. Martin Luther King didn’t know how racial equality could be accomplished. In each of these cases, it was a vision that stretched their minds and informed the steps they would take to make their dreams reality.

Vision provides the guiding principle around which actions organize themselves.

It allows us to break out of our little boxes and illuminates answers and possibilities we may not have otherwise seen. We often find these answers as we go along and realize in retrospect that we never could have anticipated them.

Much like a river flows steadily toward the larger body of water that is its ultimate destination, vision propels us forward to find our way through uncertainty and unchartered territory.

A compelling vision identifies not only what you are moving toward, but also why. The bigger why provides you with inspiration you need to move beyond obstacles and other difficulties that would otherwise lead you to abandon your efforts.

You can find your vision with conscious intention and discernment. And if you are diligent in carving out the time to reflect on what is beckoning to you and give it the space to speak, your vision will find you.

For more on creating your vision and taking steps to bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be, download my special report, “Why Real Leaders Don’t Set Goals (and what they do instead)”.

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