Visionary or Realist?

Last week, I returned from a much-needed vacation in California. My husband and I are both completely mesmerized by that place. We've felt this during our previous visits to that state. This enchantment was fertile ground for many wonderful 'Visioning' discussions. The theme: why don't we live there if we feel so alive and at-home in Cali? Is it feasible? Is it practical? Is it realistic? Is it a good idea? What are the implications for our family, our businesses, our lifestyle? While the discussions are not yet final, we are weighing implementing a plan for a future relo...

All of us experience this kind of passionate pull toward something (or some place, or someone) and the anxiety that uncertainty and fear of failure can produce around it.  All too often, I find colleagues, clients, and friends who had this kind of 'calling' and decided it was unrealistic, unpractical, or impossible, so they gave it up. Sometimes, their friends and family convinced them to drop it. It was brushed aside, and they returned to 'life-as-usual'.

On the flip side, there are those who take wild 'leaps of faith' to pursue such dreams. However, if they don't give adequate thought and time to planning and goal setting, it can be a recipe for failure -the reality that they didn't stop to incorporate into their vision shatters their dreams.

The painful end result is unfortunately similar: people who brush aside their dreams and those who leap to pursue them without planning first find themselves disillusioned, frustrated, depressed, and a feeling a deep sense of loss.

So what should we do about these dreams we feel pulled towards? I think the following simple (though not necessarily easy) steps are a must:

1. Visioning: create a clear description of your vision, one that identifies what end outcome you seek to achieve and how following your dream will get you there. This step must come first.

2. Goal-Setting: set actionable, measurable, and time-specific goals around strategies that help you realize your vision. In the process of doing this work, you will probably need to do some analysis of unknown variables that may impact your decision about whether and how to pursue these goals. This is important and should not be skipped. This is a 'reality-check' that is not meant to dampen your enthusiasm, but rather help you plan around potential obstacles to ensure success and limit/avoid set-backs.

3. Implementation and evaluation: Now, when you have clearly defined both your end outcomes vision and your steps for achieving it, you'll of course need to TAKE ACTION to implement your plan and follow your dreams, measuring your progress along the way and making any necessary interim corrections and revisions.

4. Reward progress and successful achievement: Finally, celebrate your accomplishments (intermediate and final, big and small) and rejoice in knowing you will not be among the disillusioned and defeated who fail to act on their calling or plan for their success!