A Coaching Power Tool Created by Sabine Röthlisberger
(Leadership Coach, SWITZERLAND)In order to reach a goal you need to have a clear understanding what exactly the goal is and how to get there. A vision is a mental image of what the future will or could be like. It is an aspirational description of what you want to achieve or accomplish in the future and it is intended to serve as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action.
If you want to attend the marathon in your hometown next year and run half an hour faster as last time, you need to start your running training now. You will make a training plan to improve your condition until the competition date. In addition, you will regularly check the progress you made and adapt the plan if necessary. If I would ask you today, how it feels to reach that goal, you are able to describe me, how it feels to cross the finish line and having achieved the time you wanted.
A dream instead is a fuzzy and often unrealistic picture of a situation someone would like to reach. In our example, it would be to win the gold medal in this hometown marathon. If you are not a professional runner, this is a very unrealistic goal. Moreover, without training you would not even come close to this dream.
Sometimes we find ourselves to have a dream to reach something like a new job, to found the own company or to take a year off and travel around the world. Why did we not do it? Because it was a dream and it stayed a dream. We never made a concrete goal out of it and thought seriously about, what it takes to realize. If you want to become something true, it has to be a certain priority in your life. You need the energy to take the necessary actions, the courage to change your life and the self-confidence to manage the obstacles that might come up on the way.
Half a year later, you are still having the same dream, but you are frustrated because you have still not reached it yet. You may be jealous about other people who have already achieved your dream. A common reaction is to blame someone else or circumstances for the situation: “my boss does not support me” or “the market situation is so bad, you better stay in your job to be on the secure side”. There are thousands of excuses, why something could not have been done and those excuses keep you stuck.
Does this mean that we should not have any dreams? Not at all. It is important to have dreams in your life, e.g. once in your life to travel to Australia or to do a bungee jump. It is crucial to have these dreams and when the time is right for you, you will realize them. However, some of these dreams will stay dreams, as they never reached priority in your life or as they have just been unrealistic.
In some areas in life, we have a clear vision on where we want to be at a certain point in time. If you want to become a surgeon or a professional tennis player, this does not happen overnight. We inform us what is necessary to achieve this and make a plan on how to get there. It takes a lot of discipline and we have to work constantly towards our vision.
When we create our vision, we usually make a reality check. Do we have all the skills to reach the vision? If not, is it possible to develop these skills? When the vision passed the reality check, it is time to think about the consequences. Everything we do in our life is at the cost of something else. E.g. the time needed to become a professional tennis player, is not available anymore for something else. If we give a vision a priority, some other visions have to stand in line and wait for their realization.
Often we underestimate that realizing a vision has impact on our environment. Your time available for your family and friends might decrease drastically. Therefore, it is helpful when our environment is supportive for our endeavors. This could be people around you, who discuss with you certain topics, give you advice or just join you for a nice dinner. This is an important factor regarding the success achieving our goals.
If you know where to go you can start making a plan. The same applies for your client.
As soon as the vision is clear for the client and the objectives have been defined, you can built on what the client wants to change in her/his life. The process can be similar to the logical levels of Robert Dilts. It is important to verify with the client if her/his values and beliefs are supporting this vision. It does not work, when reaching the vision means acting against the own values. Understanding where the motivation comes from can help to overcome times when the client is struggling.
Does the client have the necessary skills to reach her/his vision? If not, those skills need to be developed. In some cases, the client might even get support from someone else or can work around the lack of a certain skill.
Knowing the vision, the values and beliefs as well as the available skills, the client is able to plan the actions to be undertaken to reach the vision. These actions can be diverse as changing the behavior, using different words, registering for a course, etc. By thinking about how to reach the objectives, creativity is very welcome. Thinking out of the box and doing something differently than before might bring new opportunities.
The last area to discuss is the environment. The client has to think about, when to take which action. When would be the best time to talk to someone? Where is the best place to meet this person? How can family and friends support them? All this together brings the actions in a timeline and results in a plan.
When clients are at the beginning to realize their vision, they normally see many obstacles that could come into the way. Often it helps, when the client visualizes the situation 3 years from now. The client should tell you, what she/he would talk with a friend about the achieved vision. Pretending having already reached the goal often makes clients feel better and looking backwards puts the obstacles the client sees today in a different perspective. All of a sudden, those obstacles do not seem that big anymore and the client is energized to start with the first actions.
- Where in your life do you have now a vision and where a dream?
- How does it feel to have a dream and not realizing it?
- How does it feel to have a vision and to work on the realization?
- What have you already done to achieve your vision?
- How can your environment support you?