Thursday, August 8, 2013

Vision and Action

Today is  Thursday, August 8, 2013. 

"Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare."  – Japanese Proverb

It must be nice to be able to encapsulate truth in pithy statements like this.  When I read quotes like this, the "truth-o-meter" in my gut says yes, but sometimes it takes my brain a while to figure out why it is true.  

Visions are pictures in our heads of what we want our future to be like.  They are visual encapsulations of our goals.  Our creative imagination makes visions possible.  Visions are especially powerful because the brain actually thinks in pictures, rather than in words.  You may say to yourself that you are going to be a doctor when you grow up, or that you are going to lose weight in the next few months, but if you don't have a visual representation in your mind of what that outcome will look like, then your intentions will be undercut because they lack power.  Over time, the vision can change, intensify, and become more specific to enable us to reach our goal.

Once our vision begins to achieve clarity, we can take action to manifest it in reality.  The really big visions require us to take a sequence of smaller, day-by-day actions.  If you want to become a concert violinist, you have to invest in a violin; you have to take lessons and practice hard.  You have to consciously choose to spend time with your violin rather than with your friends.  You have to attend concerts and listen to master violinists play.  You have to audition for an orchestra and attend all the rehearsals.  And once you get to the point of playing in the orchestra, you have to continue to spend time with your instrument.  Music becomes a life-style. 

If you want to lose weight, you have to choose each day to eat sensibly.  Depending on what your diet was like before, you may have to choose to eat more of some things (vegetables and fruits) and much less of other things (salad dressings, sauces).  You may have to change the way you cook some things (more steaming and less boiling, more baking and less frying).  You may have to eliminate some things altogether (soda pop, junk food).  As well, you will have to take stock of your current level of physical activity and find some way to increase it.  Once again, it's a life-style choice.  All the really big decisions are life-style choices. 

If you haven't got a vision, you can't break it down into a series of actions that you can do on a daily basis.  If your vision lacks clarity, you won't be able to figure out exactly what actions to take.  And if you don't take action at all, your vision is, after all, just a daydream.  

Is action without vision really a nightmare?   Well, if you haven't got a plan, your actions will probably result in chaos.  If you haven't got the vision to guide your choices, you will end up having some other job or career.  In the case of someone who wanted to be a concert violinist, I guess you would continue to be very interested in music, but you might not realize until too late the effect of your unrealized dream.  You might suffer from depression or end up trying to force your children to follow your dream instead of their own.  Either of those outcomes could very well be a nightmare.   

If you lack direction and focus in your plan to lose weight, you will never achieve your goal.  The yo-yo diet effect is well known, and if you've experienced it, you could certainly call it a nightmare.  There are a lot of kooky diets out there, but it's simplistic to blame a particular diet for failure to lose weight.  There has to be a plan in place, and it has to be one that you can follow for the rest of your life.  If your vision is true, your diet will most likely not be one of the weird ones, because those can't really be sustained for a long time.  Beyond that, the plan has to be followed, and lapses have to be rectified with a renewed intention to realize the goal, as in, "OK, yesterday I messed up, but today is another day."  

Regardless of what your vision is, without action, it will never come true.  Regardless of how busy you are each day, your actions, without an underlying purpose, will accomplish nothing.  :-)

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