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Why Clarity of Vision is the First Step in Goal Setting

In this article, Eagle Training discusses the importance of ensuring clarity of vision prior to goal setting, and why you should start with the end in mind.

So, Where Are You Heading?

Have you ever read Alice in Wonderland? It’s a great book with lots of life lessons contained in it. I particularly like the part where Alice asks the Cheshire Cat for some advice.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” Alice asks. The Cheshire Cat replies by saying, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

 Alice thinks and says, “I don’t much care where.” The Cheshire Cat replies by saying, “Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.”

I was reminded of this when speaking with someone recently; let’s call him Bob. Like many businesses, Bob’s is going through a great deal of change at the moment, much of which is Covid-19 related. The interesting thing is that they are performing really well. In fact, they are exceeding most of the targets that have been set in terms of business volumes, etc; which is obviously good news, and most folks in the business are dead chuffed.

After first congratulating him on his business’ success I asked Bob a couple of questions that interested him. My question was, “Where is achieving these targets taking you and who are you becoming as a result?” 

I also asked him if the destination was where he actually wanted to go. My point to Bob was that a lot of people successfully achieve their goals, but are dissatisfied with where they end up. So, what has happened here?

Why Clarity of Vision is the First Step in Goal Setting

the importance of Establishing a clear vision before goal setting

Well, the people in question have adopted what I would call a ‘bottom-up’ approach. Now let me be clear here, I am not against people, teams, and organisations achieving their objectives and goals; far from it. No, what I am concerned about is that this series of actions, however successful, might take them off course in terms of achieving their vision.

I then explained to Bob about the notion of Begin with the End in Mind. In case you have never heard of this, it is taken from the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. It’s actually Habit number 2 of the 7 and means to begin each day, task, or project with confident clarity of vision regarding your desired direction and destination.

Once you know where you want to end up you can then think about the actions you need to take or the goals that you need to achieve in order to get to your chosen destination; this goal setting brings your objectives into focus, and moves your ideas into the real world.

Starting with the end in mind

In this vein, did you know that many authors actually write the endings of books first, before they get going with the beginning?

Unfortunately, many people never seriously ask themselves who/where they want to be and, as a result, they never end up accomplishing their personal or professional dreams. Sadly, it is also a similar story with some businesses like Bob’s. 

So, in short, to begin with, the end in mind is to design your life and career in the way that you want it to end up before you begin to pursue it. Choosing to do this will give you greater control over your life and circumstances. In doing so you will also benefit from increased clarity of vision, revealing what you really want.

This increased clarity of vision will enable you to be more efficient and effective in the actions that you take and this, in turn, will help you to understand your purpose.

I genuinely believe that by following Covey’s begin with the end in mind philosophy you will set yourself on the path to greater success, and achieving the objectives set out in the goal setting process. But remember, it needs to be followed up with disciplined actions; otherwise it will remain a dream!

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