I was listening to a podcast by Craig Groeschel from LifeChurch.tv and something he said really caught my attention. He said "Your strengths may impress people, but your weaknesses connect you to them."
That's kind of where I'm going with today's article - I'm going to share with you where Jennifer and I are in our journey of life planning.
We've both shared a lot of personal insecurities and "weaknesses" in the last two articles we've written. Jenn's was entitled "How big is your box?" and mine was "Why do we compare?"
We've read a lot of self-help books and listened to a lot of material on making goals and having vision. In fact, we're currently reading Michael Hyatt's and Daniel Harkavy's new book, Living Forward. It's all about developing a life plan and closing the gap between where we are now and where we want to be.
The thing is, though, it's really easy to read or hear inspiring content but to do nothing with it - nothing changes.
This is where understanding and establishing clear vision is vital.
Vision, at its core, is simply the ability to see. Did you catch that? It's not this ethereal, impractical concept that's only useful for business textbooks or as a cool mural on Chik-Fil-A's wall. (For the record, I love Chik-Fil-A; I'm just using their wall as an example of how corporate vision is sometimes expressed.)
So if vision is all about what we see, what exactly are we looking at? I believe clear vision answers three questions about seeing:
Question 1: Where am I NOW?
No filter is applied; just a clear look. Where am I now?
You're going to have to get rid of any filter clouding your vision. You see, it's statistically very unlikely that you're failing miserably at every aspect of your life, and it's equally unlikely that you're perfect.
Harness the insecurity displayed during times when you feel down or discouraged. No matter who you are, there is some area of your life that needs significant improvement.
There's an area that if you looked at with no filter, you would conclude that you stink; that you need to initiate change.
I'm one who typically feels insecure only during "down" times. My wife, Jennifer, is the type who battles with these feelings on a more regular basis.
Historically, neither of us have done much with these feelings except to quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) endure them. Over the past few months, though, we've both decided it's time to be Passive No More. We've started living on purpose.
(Quick unrelated note: I'm writing this article on my iPhone as I sit on the couch, with my 3-year-old, Lily, perched on my right shoulder, eating an apple... So no excuses about being too distracted to think about vision!)
The first step to getting clear vision is asking yourself where you are right now, and the second step is seeing where you want to go from here.
Question 2: Where do I want to go?
Use all the filters you want here. Imagine. Close your eyes; go to the future; look around, and describe what you see. Jenn and I are still working on vision for this year and beyond, but did you know you can start with just one or two days at a time?
Here's our example from today. Friday and Saturday are when we have the biggest chunks of time off, and it's really easy to get to the end of our weekend and feel more tired and unproductive than when it began.
That's where having clear vision comes into play. Here's our vision statement for this weekend.
"This is what we see at the end of the day on Saturday:"
- We feel rested and ready to begin the new week.
- We feel caught-up and filled-up in all areas.
- We have spent intentional family time together and have connected with our extended family.
- We are of one mind in our finances for the month.
- We have planned for the week ahead.
Sounds pretty good, huh? But how do we get there in just two days?
That's step three. We must have vision to get from where we are now to where we want to be.
Question 3: How do I get there? This is where you close the gap between "I stink" and "I did it!"
Here is Jenn's and my plan to get there this weekend.
"If we do these things, we should get there:"
- Create and agree upon March's budget, identifying our "seed" for the month.
- Take kids to the park, for walks, geocaching? Trail? Bluffs?
- Connect with our family in Oregon, Pensacola and elsewhere.
- Pray together, and review our 2016 vision plan, identifying areas to focus on the next week.
- Read for 30 minutes each day.
- Listen to one podcast and one sermon together as well as two chapters in Living Forward.
- Finish blog #9 and plan #10.
- Plan out the week ahead. (Maybe even make a big calendar for the year?)
I'm telling you, guys, even just writing this stuff out feels very purposeful. If you don't already write out your vision, I encourage you to give it a try.
...And then do it.
The late author and evangelist Vince Havner said:
"The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps - we must step up the stairs."