It can be easy in a moment to follow a flash of inspiration. Riding on a high, one inspired action leads to another. Complete works come into existence from the void. Whole new worlds are created. But for what?
One-off projects here and there get you things. Lots of things. Intellectual property in the bag. But soon the clutter mounts on tables and chairs, in corners and cracks. The hypothetical room is full of things and no long-lasting impact to show for it. Just stuff.
I love inspired action. You might even say I’ve been an inspiration addict. It used to flow through me like the Nile flowing north after a strong rain. I’d cling to a beautiful tree branch with buds, drag it out of the water, and a dig a deep hole to stick it in. I was stoked. I built… a tree?
My inspiration led to this – action taken and completed. Unfortunately, one lone branch in the ground doesn’t build a house. One lone action doesn’t put up four walls, a chimney, and a roof and then maintain it for twenty years. One hurdle towards a goal on the back of inspiration easily breaks down and into nothing without the most important piece.
A Vision is Your Driving Force
A vision is the ultimate driving force. It’s the great aligner. It’s your roadmap.
It gives you clues to your next step. It shows you which turn to take. It encourages you when you’re down. It reinforces you when you’re up. It gives meaning and depth to your actions. It reminds you about why you’re doing what you’re doing.
It takes you beyond the initial stages of excitement through the dark post-inspiration void and to the path of steady consistent disciplined action.
When you have a vision for the future you can see your way forward through the highs of divine inspiration and through the lows of human messiness.
Because, trust me, the lows are coming. They are always coming. You can’t have a high without a low. It’s the cyclical nature of life. Look out your window for this wisdom. True power lies in capturing this awareness and applying it to your life.
When you know you must face the downward dive of a once great high you can plan your way through it. You can see your way through it. Know where you are going and why. See yourself getting there. See yourself in the highs. See yourself in the lows. Anticipate what every low might be.
Anticipation requires self-knowledge. You can’t anticipate what you don’t know about yourself. But you can anticipate what you do know. So take what you know (your weaknesses and strengths) and integrate that into your vision and how you see yourself fulfilling that vision – no matter what.
For example, I know that during certain times of the month, and even during certain times of the year, I’m a lot less motivated than at other times. I know this. So how do I apply this knowledge? Well, I forecast it into my vision.
I look into my vision in my mind’s eye. I see myself working my way towards it. I see myself in those moments when it’s hardest, when I least one to put forth the effort. I visualize myself doing the bare minimum that I need to do to keep on track. And then I see myself still going.
I get through those hard times. I make it to the easier, lighter, and fun times. I see myself move through it all, doing whatever I need to, even if it’s only the bare minimum, to keep making progress towards my vision.
No Vision = Failed Projects
For many of my projects over the last several years, I failed to have a realistic vision for the future. Sure, I had a goal. I wanted to start a business, make money, create this thing. But these goals were one dimensional. They lacked legs. Legs get you places. Without legs, you aren’t going anywhere.
A few years ago I wrote an ebook for nursing students. I also held a workshop to teach the same material. I planned to make a business out of it to make some money. The idea was solid.
I set up a website and social media. I promoted my workshop and ebook. I launched my ebook and held the workshop. But then everything sputtered to a quick end. Why? Because I had no clue where I was going with it. I reached my goal: create an ebook and hold a workshop. But then what?
I didn’t think about where I was going with these projects. What vision did they serve? None. I didn’t have a vision. I didn’t think about the longterm plans for my creation. So the entire thing came to a firey end.
I played out this same pattern for several other projects over the years as well. I started a coaching business and a freelance writing business. I committed to personal projects of writing and sharing. I branded whole new websites for my writing. But for what? What was my vision? I knew I wanted to write. I knew I wanted a business. But, again, for what? Where was I going with it?
I never considered the longterm implications. I never considered what would happen when I wasn’t inspired or motivated to work on the project. I didn’t consider what I truly wanted in the end. I didn’t consider what I was willing to give to make it a reality or what I was willing to do when I didn’t feel like doing anything at all.
Inevitably, those moments came and went. And out went my project with it. I never took the time to see my projects making it through the other side of those deep lulls. I never envisioned my projects in their full glory with all their inherent implications for my life. So none of these projects made it anywhere other than just over the edge of the launch pad.
Did I complete a bunch of projects? Yes. But that was it. Completed and done. The story never truly got told. It was like writing an amazing introduction to a book that was never completely written.
Discipline and Commitment
What’s difficult is having the capacity and wherewithal to continue forward towards a vision no matter what comes. But what makes it easier is actually having a vision worth moving towards through every high and low.
It takes commitment and discipline to move towards your vision no matter how you feel in the moment. Inspiration will come and go. Commitment and discipline keep you on the path. And it’s a hell of a lot easier to stay committed and disciplined when you have a vision worth working towards; one that aligns with who you are on a soul level.
A true vision, a soul vision, draws you out of yourself into action when you’re inspired and when you’re not. It’s an inner kick in the butt that you need to show up for yourself every day. Because if you don’t show up for your soul vision then you’re letting yourself down. And self-betrayal cuts deep.
But more on all that at another time. Today get crackin’ on your vision for your life. What do you see yourself doing for your career/profession, in relationships, or for your self? What vision pulls you in and out so fully you can’t say no?