Ingredients For a Successful New Year: The Vision Question

“Create a vision for the life you really want and then work relentlessly towards making it a reality.” – Roy T. Bennett

Purpose or Pleasure?

Once a prized student of psychologist Siegmund Freud, Viktor Frankl found himself on the wrong side of the elite psychologists of his day. Freud had long asserted that mankind is driven by pleasure. Frankl held this belief to be true until, as a Jew, he was subjected to the German concentration camp of Auschwitz during the Holocaust. After surviving this, Frankl emerged with a divergent view from Freud’s. He discovered that at the core of humanity is the need for meaning or purpose, not pleasure. Frankl concluded that we are more than the sum total of our physical appetites. It was meaning or purpose, not pleasure that, got Frankl through the horrific experience of the Holocaust. And a life of meaning is what many of us seek.

This innate desire for purpose or meaning in life is so key that it was why Frankl’s book Man’s Search For Meaning and the more recent Purpose Driven Life by Pastor Rick Warren were instant bestsellers and now reading classics. No matter the dream, goal, or idea we have, purpose undergirds them all. While the goal is the what and the purpose provides the why vision speaks to the where. And where you are heading is just as important as why you are going there. 

This leads to the question, “How do we craft a compelling vision that connects our goals and purpose in life?” Maybe it’s getting financially sound by eliminating debt and boosting your savings and investment to build wealth. Or, it could be becoming healthy physically or mentally. Perhaps you might be looking to enhance your skill in a particular field. Whatever “it” is, the marriage of vision, goals, and purpose leads to a life of fewer regrets and greater fulfillment despite any pain or hardships you face along the way. Here are two places to look when crafting a vision.

1. Look Beyond 

Did 2022 leave you looking down in despair or looking back in regret? The best thing about life, despite age or stage, especially at the start of a new year, is that it’s never too late for a new beginning. You can start afresh. Set a new vision. And it starts by looking beyond. It is no small task to look beyond the fence of our regrets, fears, and anxieties. They barricade our vision to only the present or, worse, the past. 

Looking beyond is a hope ignitor. It’s believing your best is still ahead despite what has transpired behind you. Scarcely do we see what is beyond because we spend too much time looking behind. Believing growth is possible is a prerequisite for crafting a vision. No vision is set before growth or improvement is believed. But it is easy to lose faith and confidence in a dark and chaotic world.

For the European Jews, the Holocaust was one of the darkest times in history (around 6 million were murdered between 1941 and 1945. This accounted for around two-thirds of the European-Jewish population). Singled out by Nazi Germany, Jews were subjected to unimaginable horrors in concentration camps. Frankl was among them. In studying the difference between those who survived and those who didn’t, he discovered that purpose was a distinguishing factor. Those who survived believed that their lives still had meaning and purpose beyond the present suffering as bad as it was. Frankl’s personal purpose which kept him going despite the pain of the camps was the desire to rewrite a confiscated manuscript that was ready for publishing when he was taken to Auschwitz concentration camp. 

Dr. Tony Evans, a well-known theologian, and pastor, explicitly says no one was designed to live a purposeless life. Yet many of us sacrifice our purpose on the altar of our past predicaments and current problems. This is what Frankl had to say about the importance of purpose:

“Everyone has their own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.”

Look beyond your struggles, setbacks, and sufferings, and look within. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you have a God-given purpose in life. Your negative experiences cannot erase the deposit of gifts laying in you. Craft your vision in line with who you were created to be. And as you will see from my personal story, looking beyond leads to looking around. 

2. Look Around 

This calls for an investigation. For Frankl, this was the curiosity about how people overcame unspeakable suffering. For my wife and I, we had to look beyond our financial miscues and missteps and the pit of debt we had dug ourselves into. I must confess that debt on finances is like an elephant sitting on your chest, causing little to no breathing room. We realized that a debt-free life was the higher quality life we desired. An investigation ensued. We came across financial guru Dave Ramsey. His in-your-face method (his motto is, “debt is dumb, cash is king) was the wake-up call we needed. Not only that, we found stories of people living debt-free lives. They confirmed what we knew to be true that debt-free living is the best way to live. We proceeded to craft a vision for debt freedom and wealth building. The vision was not only for my wife and me, but it became a generational vision. We want our children to learn and live debt-free. As parents, this is our responsibility. We cannot teach a standard we haven’t set first. We’ve made hard choices like no dependency on credit cards (Dave Ramsey recommends taking scissors and cutting up your credit cards), but the weight of the elephant coming off is a welcome relief. This is what a compelling vision can do. 

Take time to investigate what tools are available around to help create your vision. Like an artist using a pencil to translate a picture from thought to paper, look around and use what is in your environment to help craft your vision.  

Final Thought: Crafting a vision for your life by looking beyond and around is one of the best decisions you can make. But don’t just take it from me. Take it from NFL Super Bowl-winning coach and bestselling author Tony Dungy. “The first step towards creating an improved future is developing the ability to envision it. Vision will ignite the fire of passion that fuels our commitment to do whatever it takes to achieve excellence. Only vision allows us to transform dreams of greatness into the reality of achievement through human action. Vision has no boundaries and knows no limits. Our vision is what we become in life.” I couldn’t say it any better! 

Keep on Keeping on!

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