Plans are worthless, but planning is everythingDwight D. Eisenhower
In life as in leadership, small shifts in attention can change everything. This is especially true in the uncertain times of 2020. The more disruptive the times, the more we can forget to look out to the longer horizon. Seeing an ideal future informs where we put our attention today.
Try the activity below. Return to your reflections when life seems disrupted and allow them to mature. Use this template. Take it lightly but seriously!
Download Expanding Your Vision document.
Establishing a Long-Term Context – Why is Long-Term So Powerful?
What is the difference between long term and short term?
- In the short term, (say, 4-6 months) you generally cannot change all factors in life. Some factors are fixed, such as the job you hold or the home you own.
- In the long term, (say, 1 year out) you can change just about everything – what you do, where you live, how you spend your time.
In the long term, you will find your extended vision.
When your day, week or month feels completely disrupted and constrained, looking one or more years into the future opens possibilities and defines decisions. You may re-envision all aspects that surround you: what, where and how.
Second-Brainstorm Your Extended Vision
Consider the questions below.
Current Year: Where are you now?
What are some of the facts of the current year? (home, age of you and your loved ones, family makeup, job)
What are 3-5 most essential focus areas in your life and vocation? (family, job, community, wellness, etc.)
In these essential areas, where are you fulfilled, and where are you looking for a shift?
Extended Vision – Future State – One Year Out?
What are some of the “facts” you foresee then? (age of you and your loved ones, other measurables?)
In your 3-5 most essential areas: What would your ideal look like? What about your worst-case scenario? Your most likely scenario?
What is the future you will declare, looking at the possibilities?
Third – Brainstorm Interim Signs Progress
How will you know you are moving toward your extended vision, 3, 6, or 9 months from now?
What are Interim Signs You are On Your Way?
- What might you see in 3 months?
- What might you see in 6 months?
- What might you see in 9 months?
Fourth – Map and Adapt Your Plans Monthly
“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything” (Dwight D. Eisenhower). The irony of planning for the unexpected, is that in times of uncertainty, by definition, things rarely happen exactly as planned.
However, sending attention to your extended vision keeps you future focused, and anchored on a desired state.
So, map your plans with an attitude of focused surrender: have your idea of what you will do, but understand you must surrender your precise plans, to future changes as they emerge.
Perhaps the most useful part of extending you vision is a habit of returning to what you want, self-correcting towards the desired state, as actual events unfold.
Set aside an hour a month to return to your work and renew it. you can be sure that you are changing your future for the better.