How to Improve Your Business and Life with Visioning
When the ball drops in Times Square on New Year’s Eve 2012, and the clock strikes 12… you will have just completed another year of your life. Spent 365 days that you’ll never be able to spend again. How will you have spent those days? Did you make them count? Did you make a difference? Are you happy with your life and business?
I’m going to make a prediction about what your life will look like just after the ball drops and the clock strikes 12. Your life will look like a culmination of the past 365 days you will have just spent. I realize that sounds very contrived, but the truth is, you’ve been given 365 days to spend. The great news is you get to choose how you’re going to spend each day. The only choice you don’t get is to save a day; you have to spend each one.
Are you investing each day you’ve been given? Are you squandering each one? Regardless of your choice, the day is gone – never to be found again.
Making the Most of Each Day
“If you live each day as if it were your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” – Steve Jobs
What’s the secret to making the most of each day? Sorry to disappoint and let you down, but I don’t know the answer. One thing I know is that Zig Ziglar is right – you can’t be a wandering generality; you have to be a meaningful specific. You have to be intentional about where you’re going. You have to have a Vision, because if you don’t, you’ll end up squandering your days.
Visioning vs. Goal Setting
I’ve been to dozens of courses and seminars and read dozens of books about success, and the vast majority focus on goal setting, and never mention the power of, nor the word, visioning. Over the past few years I’ve discovered the power of visioning in my own life and business.
Unlike most “goals” programs or systems, the vision mapping process helps you imagine what your life and business will look like as though you had already achieved the successes you want. Visioning is about placing yourself at a future date (not through time travel, or some magical seance) and looking around at what your successful life and business look like, and then working backward and creating a plan of action to get you to that place.
Most goals programs start by looking at the weaknesses and shortcomings in your life or business and then selecting the areas you’d like to improve. They then build a plan to help you work toward your goals.
Goals programs tend to take several individual pieces and then place them all together in one “goals program.” On the other hand, visioning begins at a future point in your life. When done correctly, visioning is a very holistic approach. It reveals what your life will look like in all areas (personal, family, business, spiritual, etc.).
You Gotta Have a Vision
Visioning can be applied to anything you’re working on.
Once I’ve spent time reflecting and answering questions about the past year, I transition and begin the Vision Mapping Process for the next year. It’s during this time that I draw my road map for the next 12 months.
By far, the best book I’ve read on visioning is A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business by Ari Weinzweig. If you own a business, or are thinking about starting a business, you need this book. (Over the past 10 years I’ve read over 300 business-related books, and without question this is one of the 10 best.)
So What is Visioning?
Visioning begins by figuring out what you want success to look like at a particular point in the future, then working backward to the present. Visioning allows you to create an ideal destination. Visioning helps keep you focused and prevents you from getting overwhelmed by the problems and discouragement that will be prevalent on your journey toward success.
“Without a clear picture of where we’re heading, about the only chance we have of being successful is just that… chance.” – Ari Weinzweig
If you want to transform your life and your business with visioning this year, you need to pick up a copy of Ari’s book. In it Ari provides the visioning “formula” they’ve used at Zingerman’s for the past 30 years. You may be wondering if visioning has paid off for them? With a little investigation, you’ll discover that visioning enabled them to start a small deli in 1982 (on the wrong end of town no less) and grow it into a $36,000,000 per year conglomerate of food-related businesses.
Part of the formula for successfully utilizing visioning in your life and in your business is to insure you’re using the right ingredients. There are four characteristics or ingredients that Ari identifies as essential to creating an effective vision:
Your Vision Must Be Inspiring
People want to be a part of something special, something bigger than themselves. Your vision should inspire you and the others that it will affect and impact. Your vision should stretch you. It needs to push you to the edge of what you believe is or will be possible. Ari says, “If there’s no chance of falling short, we’re not stretching enough. Some people may be willing to settle for mediocrity, but second-rate certainly isn’t very inspiring. We need to challenge ourselves, to create something that sets us on the path to creating something unique.”
Your Vision Must Be Strategically Sound
“If we write a vision and it sounds great but we don’t have even a slight chance of getting there, then what we’ve got isn’t a vision of greatness but a great fantasy. Good for getting people excited; not so good for paying the bills. To be effective a vision also has to have some measurable components that we can use to assess our success.” – Ari
You can’t be vague with your vision. Simply saying we will be the “best” isn’t strategically sound, because you can’t measure and determine if you’ve reached your vision. You also shouldn’t set your vision outside of who you are, and your skills and talents. For example, if you filed for bankruptcy yesterday it’s not a strategically sound vision to say you’ll become a multimillionaire within 30 days. There’s a fine line between stretching yourself, and being unrealistic.
Your Vision Should Be Documented
Writing your vision on paper gives it tremendous power. Putting it on paper gives your vision a life of its own. It’s this step that most people skip. But skipping this step destroys the power of visioning. Here’s what Ari says about writing down your vision:
“I’ve learned that most folks will find a few hundred very good reasons not to get around to putting their vision into writing. I totally understand. Doing visioning work is scary: other people might criticize what we’ve committed to attaining; there are never any guarantees of success; we could fall short or even fail altogether. … Putting a long-term vision in writing insures that we’re a lot more likely to stick to it when we run into the inevitable resistance.”
Your Vision Must Be Communicated
Ari explains the importance of communicating your vision better than I could:
“I hate to even say it, but you know it’s true. A great vision that no one but you knows about isn’t going to be very effective. So once you’ve gone and decided on your organizational vision of greatness, you really ought to tell people what it is.
Let me take that one step further: just telling them about it isn’t really enough. What we have to actually do is actively sell that vision to our organization. Just as the products on our shelves never sell themselves, neither will a vision sell itself to our staff – no matter how inspiring or strategically insightful it is. It has to actually and actively be sold.“
Although Ari is talking about the importance of communicating your vision to your organization, the same applies to your personal vision. Communicating your vision to your friends and family helps hold you accountable and forces you to defend and justify your vision.
So, how about you? You ready to stop dreaming about success and start achieving it? Having “visions” of success without creating a plan to reach them is nothing more than daydreaming. Remember, the ball is going to drop when the clock strikes 12… and 2012 will end. Will your life look like what you had hoped and dreamed?
To make 2012 your best year, start your visioning today. Not sure what to do next? Okay, that’s a valid excuse, but it won’t be after you click this link. Why? Because just on the other side of that link, Ari’s going to provide you with eight specific steps for starting your visioning process.
You can keep making excuses and run the risk of 2012 ending as “just another year,” or you can click this link and let Ari guide you through the visioning process. The choice is yours!
Have a question or comment about visioning? Leave it in the comments below.
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