It Starts with a Vision

By Machen MacDonald

Having a compelling vision of your future is perhaps the most powerful ingredient to your success.

Have a vision and you are hopeful. Lack a vision and you suffer feeling hopeless.

A compelling future vision creates a vacuum that pulls you forward to its realization. Associating to and embracing your vision provides you the awareness to see the obstacles as resources, stumbling blocks as stepping stones, and set backs as set ups for advancement. Seeing a bright future before you, avails you to the thoughts and impulses that you otherwise would not experience. Pay attention.

Clarity of vision activates a winning mindset that doesn’t back down during adversity. It fuels the tenacity and perseverance that is necessary to succeed. Throughout history it’s not necessarily the smartest or most talented person that wins the championship, sets the world records, builds the great business, or writes the best seller. The podium is filled with ordinary people who had the inner strength to keep on keeping on because they possessed a vision.

Business philosopher Jim Rohn would say, “Don’t wish life was easier, wish you were better.”  The question then becomes better at what? Is it the ability to figure things out? Better understand people and how to work more effectively with them? For many, the challenge is an inability to stay focused on a project or task to see it through. For others they wish there were more hours in the day rather than finding their way to managing themselves better in relation to time.

What areas both personally and professionally do you need to more fully develop?

Contrast is a wonderful sherpa. Often times it is through our awareness of what doesn’t work, or we don’t have, or we are not good at doing that provides us the puzzle pieces we need to succeed.

Take inventory of what is not the way you want it to be in your life and in your work. In what areas are you experiencing angst or dread? Where do you easily become annoyed or impatient? Do you feel you have missed out on certain opportunities that have passed you by?

Make a list of everything you can think of that is not the way you want it to be. It may take you a while. Perhaps more than one sitting. That’s ok. Endeavor to make the list.

Next to each item on that list identify the things you actually have control over and the power to change or improve. Place the letter “P” for power next to those items. You have the power to affect the outcome you desire.

Next select the things you may not actually be able to control by yourself but have influence with those that can. Write an “I” for influence next to those items.

Finally, scan your list and notice the things that you have no control over nor influence in changing. Put an “A” for accept next to those items and stop complaining. It’s out of your control or influence to change.

In his book Getting Things Done, David Allen writes, “People only complain about things they think should be different but aren’t willing to take the risk to make it so.” To that point, look back at your list. Next to the items you tagged with an “A”, look inside yourself and ask how you want to be with that situation or circumstance. Let’s face it, gravity is pretty much here to stay. We don’t complain about it or wish it was different. We find a way to operate affectively with it.

Gravity is an extreme example, and it proves a point.  No one complains about it or thinks it should be a different way. Often times our ego thinks we can change things or things beyond our control should be different than what they are to accommodate us. It’s up to us to accommodate our thinking around what is. Things like gravity or the weather may not be a hot button for you. There are most likely a few things that are an “A” that may be messing with your energized tranquility. The other political party is not going to change any time soon no matter how much logic or emotion you throw their way. Restrictive regulations will not subside. Stop using what frustrates you and is out of your control to feed your addiction to feeling upset or being held back.

Now, if an item is a “P” or an “I” it may be worth your energy. If it’s a true “A” outside of your control or influence, then accept it and reclaim your power to redirect your energy to either a “P” or an “I” item. Preferably a “P”.

The Stoics have a term for accepting what is. Amore Fati. It means love your fate. It is your life and it is what it is.  We can’t turn back time but we can reset the stopwatch and go for a new record from where we are. How will you live the best version you?

Reviewing your list, look at all the items marked with a “P” and imagine your life as if all the items marked “P” are accomplished in a good way for you. How do you feel? What’s possible going forward? Don’t get hung up on how you will get it done. Just imagine it done. Do the same with the “I” items. If possible, imagine the “A” items, through some sort of miracle, no longer get your goat even though they still exist.

Really feel as if your life and work are in operation from that place. What is possible from that place? What are you doing and getting done?  That is your compelling future vision.

Write out a description of your life and work from that place.  How are you living? What are you doing? What are you achieving and getting done? Who are you loving and who is loving you? How do you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally? What are you known for? Who counts on you? Who do you count on? What kinds of contributions are you making? What have you learned and what are you learning?

Looking back at your original lists embrace the “As”. Amor Fati. For all the “A” items your ego thinks should be different ask yourself, “Given what is, what is the healthiest perspective from which I can approach this or be with this?” Look for the gift in what your ego thinks should be different.

The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius stated, “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” The obstacle often has a lesson to teach you, a skill for you to develop or hone, a new perspective from which  you can operate, or a person that can provide a solution or breakthrough. Activate your curiosity and look for the way.

With your “P” and “I” items, circle the ones you are actually willing to do something about and release the rest. Perhaps the ones you release become a small “a” for the interim.  A small “a” is something you have the power to change, however for the time being you accept it as it is and focus your energy to higher priority “A” items.

Now it’s time to get real. From your list of items marked “P” circle the ones you are willing to summon the courage, energy, perseverance, resourcefulness, willingness to fail, time, money, whatever it takes to step up and get it done.

That list will most likely be a much shorter list if you are being honest and real with yourself. No one knows you better than you. You are therefore  the authority of you. You are the author of your new compelling future action list. Be real with yourself so you can be authentic in the expectations and achievement of your list.

You can have the life you desire by segmenting what’s working and not working in your work and in your life. Learn to accept the things you cannot change and do something about the things you can. Isolating the things you are willing to actually do what it takes to change or achieve and releasing the rest will serve you well. Creating a plan to affect the change, and taking daily action on that plan will carry you to your compelling future vision. Enjoy the journey.

Learn – Do – Breakthrough!


#1 bestselling author Machen P. MacDonald, CPCC, CCSC is a certified life and business coach with ProBrilliance Leadership Institute in Grass Valley, CA. He helps business people gain more confidence and clarity to live their ideal life. He can be reached at and 530-273-8000