The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs. – Vance Havner
My husband, Michael, has been in the building industry for many years. He sells bricks, blocks, mortar, and other constructional materials, so he visits job sites regularly. I love to ride along with him and see what it looks like when a store, house, hospital, school (or whatever) is more of a VISION than a VISUAL. It never ceases to amaze me how returning to the same dirty, cluttered, and genuinely unimpressive-looking location months later can take on a whole different meaning.
The architect has a clear vision of what the end result will look like. Even an architect years ago who envisioned an elementary school in New Albany, Indiana had a clear vision. It was a checkered, whack-a-doodle kind of vision, but a vision nonetheless. When my husband showed me the building, he asked what I thought. I said it was probably the biggest eye sore I’d ever had the pleasure of seeing. He laughed and said he felt the same way but that the architect was so delighted he was beside himself.
When it comes to self improvement, resolutions, and self growth goals, we’re a lot like architects. We have a clear vision of what the “end result” will look like and, more importantly, feel like. (More about feelings later.)
If we want to lose weight, we envision ourselves in the same size of Levi’s we wore in college. We think of how amazing it will feel to have better mobility and to look in the mirror without hating the golden arches with a cruel, unChristian hatred.
If we want to make more money, we envision ourselves in a new UK Wildcat’s blue Ford Edge, making a joyful trek from Starbucks to Target to the Mall and back to Starbucks (say hello to my personal vision).
If someone wants to learn to control their temper, they may envision themselves smiling and remaining calm while dealing with every nut job in the county.
You get the idea. No matter what the end goal is, we have a clear vision of it. Oddly enough, there are a lot of well-meaning, usually high-pitched men and women who’d lead you to believe that having this vision, alone, will bring good things your way.
That’s akin to telling an architect, “Stand in the field and attract the building to you. The universe wants you to have the building.” I don’t know who the universe is, but even God expects us to earn the things we want.
Anything worth having has to be built. One brick at a time. Is it fun? Not always – but it is necessary. One of the problems we run into is feelings and emotions.
Make no mistake about it, we are governed to a great extent by feelings.
Some of us (my hands in the air) more so than others. That’s one of the reasons we have trouble “staying on course” while trying to achieve goals or adhere to resolutions. Eating a cream-filled, chocolate-covered doughnut feels better than NOT eating a a cream-filled, chocolate-covered doughnut (did I mention that the hand in the air has chocolate on it?).
Obviously, this makes it vital to focus on the end result. We HAVE to picture – throughout the day – ourselves at the finish line, whether we’re in a smaller size Levi’s, in a Ford Edge, or lying on a beach in Hawaii.
Picturing ourselves there won’t transport us there. What it will do is motivate us to stay on track…. and not just any track. The track that WILL lead us where we want to go.
Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes. – Author Unknown
All of this SOUNDS lovely, doesn’t it? It SOUNDS pie in the sky amazing. We read or hear words like the ones above and we get so motivated and inspired that we can hardly sit still. Unfortunately, there is a rub. A rub so powerful that it knocks the majority of people clean off the track.
It’s the rub of instant gratification. If you work from home like I do, you know how hard it can be to fight the urge to just get up from the computer and…
- watch a cooking show
- take a walk
- play with the cat
- raid the fridge
- go to Starbucks
- read a book
- feed the birds
- stare out the window
- play solitaire
- stroll through the house and make sure the layout’s the same as it was an hour ago
… basically do anything BUT work. Unfortunately there is instant gratification in slacking off. However, giving in a couple of times makes it far too easy to give in more times. After a while, everything you’re working toward moves further and further away from you. You look around and you ARE now where you WERE then and the only thing around you is your “slack.” The tv shows and the wasted trips say, “Hey, you still have us!”
Somehow, it’s just not what you’d envisioned, right? There’s an old saying, Always do what you’ve always done and you’ll always have what you’ve always had!
What does a construction crew do when they have a building to erect? They keep going back each day until the job’s done. It doesn’t matter if they’re tired, it doesn’t matter if they’d rather be home watching tv. They have a job to do and they keep at it until the job is complete. One brick at a time. One day at a time. One victory at a time.
It’s the same way with resolutions, self improvement, and goals. We have to earn what it is we desire. We have to show up, show up, show up, and show up again – until the job is done. It doesn’t matter if we’re tired, it doesn’t matter if we’d rather be doing (or eating) anything else. We have to put on our proverbial hard hat and work our butts off if we want to build the future we want.
It is NOT going to build itself. The premise is lovely, but then again so is the premise of a Tooth Fairy.
Remember to take pride and pleasure in each small victory. If you drive right past a hamburger joint and choose Subway instead – revel in the victory! If you stay at your desk and work a whole hour longer than you expected to, celebrate the victory with a pat on the back! It’s these small victories that lead to the finish line. Do you watch college basketball or football? Many teams will take certain games for granted during the season and lose a game they should have won. They lose focus and a much less talented, but hungrier, team gets the best of them. It may seem like a small deal at the time to most people – but those of us who follow the sports regularly know that every game counts in the home stretch. When you’re playing for the championship, losing games you SHOULD have won count against you in the worst way.
Often, it keeps the best teams on the sidelines watching less talented teams play for the championship title.
It’s a natural law: You receive as much as you give. – Paul Karasik
It doesn’t matter if it’s sports or self growth: Each victory counts. Each victory is huge. Each loss counts. Each loss is costly.
Whatever your goal is, I hope with all that’s within me that you reach it. I know you can – IF you keep your focus. Focus on what it is you want and where it is you want to be. Focus on this image daily – throughout the day. But don’t for a second think that visualizing it is equal to realizing it. You have to work for it. You have to fight for it. You have to approach each day with the mindset that you WILL rack up as many victories as you possibly can and avert any potential chocolate doughnuts losses.
When it comes to success, attract isn’t the keyword, action is. You have to take action – and not just once. You have to be ready to take continuous action. The more action you take, the more progress you make.
Victory after victory after victory….
Do this and you’ll build a masterpiece that’ll knock your darn socks off.
Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it. – Jack Canfield