I predict if you set your New Year resolutions today, come December 2016 you will fail to accomplish them. I might sound harsh, I’m known to lack a filter, but there is an alternative. If you want to be successful in reaching your goals for 2016, create a vision instead. I know it works because I’ve done it.

Resolution. Vision. You might be wondering, “Does it really matter what I call it? Is there a difference?” Yes, there is, and it can mean the difference between feeling overwhelmed by change or experiencing the forward momentum you need to succeed.

What’s the difference between a resolution and vision?

  1. Resolutions are static while visions are dynamic.
  2. Creating a vision encourages accountability.

Static vs. Dynamic

The meaning of resolve, and subsequently, resolution, is defined as, “a firm decision to do or not to do something,” or, “the quality of being determined or resolute.” In both definitions, I can visualize the person standing with feet slightly apart, hands on hips, refusing to budge. Whether he/she is saying, “I WILL lose weight!” or “I WILL NOT smoke!” the feeling is — stationary. Battered by temptation, hectic lifestyles, and habit — resolutions set us up for failure. We’re not motivated to plan but to resist.

Let’s look at the definitions of vision. The first definition is “the faculty or state of being able to see.” The definitions continue with, “the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom,” and, “a mental image of what the future will be like.” These definitions draw us toward a visible future of how we will be, how we will act, and how we will succeed. We are drawn forward to an inspirational image that features each of us as the star – the winner. We are, in effect, clearing the way for the success we’ve already seen for ourselves.

Establish Accountability

Note that a vision alone can fall as flat as your resolutions. There is a second step, and that’s your plan to secure your vision. When working with clients, I call this the “Dream Forward, Plan Back” process.  The premise is that if you start first by seeing “the future with imagination or wisdom,” and plan how to get there afterward, you will grow further than if you anchor yourself to one moment in the present. Your steps may be bigger, go in a different direction, and give you purpose with the dream ahead.

Mark LeBlanc, an influential business coach, and speaker, says this about annual goals in an interview he gave to workinginsync.com. Although he’s talking about financial targets, the same holds true for resolutions.

“Most people set annual financial goals, but I don’t want people to do that because an annual goal lets you off the hook. No one is inspired to get out of the bed in the morning because of an annual goal. It’s a nice thought, but it’s not necessarily going to trigger your decision to make January a great month because there’s so much time left to make up for it in January, February and March.” Mark LeBlanc, the Grow Your Business Guy

I’ve done it. I’ve said, “Oh, I have plenty of time to get started on that resolution.” Have you? Perhaps you started strong and then realized how much of the year you have to go and felt overwhelmed and discouraged? Yes? Creating a vision has a different feel altogether.

With a vision, you are anchoring yourself in the future, not the present. There are two advantages to this method. The first is that you’ve already seen yourself succeed. Instead of, “I need to lose 20 pounds,” you would think about how you will BEHAVE with 20 fewer pounds. Are you wearing a favorite dress and going dancing with a loved one? Do you feel strong and have more energy by 6 p.m.? Are you running a half-marathon? Your only limit is your imagination. You’ll read about my vision along this line when I share examples of how to Dream Forward and Plan Back.

Secondly, you can set smaller objectives, month by month, to reach your vision by next year. You already know where you’re going, and all you have to do is take each step to get there. I’m not going to go into SMART goals right now, but your objectives, each small step, will be more achievable if they are SMART. To learn more about what I mean, you can read about SMART goals here. These smaller, specific objectives serve to propel you closer to your vision for success. By studying goal setting theory, leaders have learned that having clear, SMART, and public goals help drive persistence, passion, and productivity. Could you use more persistence, passion, and productivity? Yes? Me, too.

Since we’re on board with creating a Vision for 2016. You might be asking, “Now what? How do I do it?” I’d like to use my goals for 2016 to show you how Dream Forward, Plan Back, works to guide your success.

Vision trophy: Your only limit is your imagination

How do I create my Vision for 2016?

When creating your vision for 2016 I recommend it have three parts, each with a Dream Forward and a Plan Back.

  1. Personal: something that nourishes your mind, body, or soul.
  2. Professional: a contribution to your business or field of study.
  3. Growth: a learning activity for the sake of learning.

Follow me through the process as I share my goals for the coming year (Dream Forward), how I’ll get there (Plan Back), and the statement I’ll use to keep the dream visible.

Personal

Like many others this year, my personal goal is centered around my body. I’m discovering the power of being comfortable seeing myself in images – namely photography. It’s important for me as an entrepreneur, as a mom, a friend, a spouse, and a woman.

Dream Forward

In 2016, I will take more pictures of myself, allow myself to be photographed with family, and I will see in those photographs the qualities for which my friends and family love me. (Yes, that was difficult for me to write.)

Plan Back

  • I will take a selfie of myself once each month when I’m feeling most confident and strong.
  • I will hand the camera off to another family member, server, or friendly stranger during important events so I’m in the pictures, too.
  • I will think of one thing I like about everyone in the photos I’m in, starting with myself.

As I work toward being more comfortable seeing myself in photos in 2016, will I try to exercise more? Yes, because it makes me feel stronger. I imagine some of the selfies will be after workouts. Will I join a gym and beat myself up when I don’t use the membership as often as I “should?” No, I will not. My vision is not about a weight goal, it’s about how I will feel and behave over the next year.

Professional

On April 1, 2016, I will celebrate the first anniversary of launching my business, Intentional Growth Strategies. At the one year mark, the hectic sprint of launch begins to slow and the marathon of growing a business begins.

Dream Forward

In 2016, I will develop processes to establish a more consistent pipeline of business.

Plan Back

  • I will continue to follow-up after networking events and encourage my closest connections to engage with me several times throughout the year. (You’ll read more about my follow-up growth in the conclusion of this post.)
  • I will re-engage connections I have let lapse over the last year.
  • I will set monthly revenue goals and prioritize my weekly tasks in the pursuit of those goals.

As Mark LeBlanc pointed out in his quote, annual financial goals let us off the hook. By focusing my priorities and tasks toward my monthly goals, each action I take has more impact. I can envision a year with few breaks between contracts.

Growth

Sometimes I call the Growth goal the R&D goal. Why? R&D in companies that value innovation will do research for the sake of research. The Growth goal is to learn for the sake of learning. It’s with a growth mindset that I approach using Instagram in 2016. I started my account as a way to monitor my kids’ internet safety, but I’ve since decided to make my participation in the platform a learning activity.

Dream Forward

In 2016, I will use Instagram as a way to tell my personal and professional stories.

Plan Back

  • I will record the stories and nuggets of wisdom I share with my kids — and through these stories who I am and what I find important in this world.
  • I will share my journey as an author.
  • I will share my journey as an entrepreneur.

I am aware that Instagram can be used for professional and marketing purposes, but teenagers and young adults aren’t my demographic targets. However, the audience on Instagram might be interested in what it’s like to write a book or start a business. Perhaps they’ll find inspiration for their own visions. You are welcome to find my posts with #igsmgmt and send me a follow request. I’d love to share my journey with you, too.

I want you to know that the power of Dream Forward, Plan Back is not theoretical. I’ve used the process while consulting with numerous clients with businesses from 100-200 people, 5 people, and solopreneurs. The best example of the effectiveness of starting with a vision is how I improved my networking follow-up. In fact, I wrote a book called Fearless Follow-Up about it because so many people needed help meeting their networking goals and the follow-up stage was holding them back. I used the same process to help them improve their follow-up as you’ve learned here.

  1. I created a specific vision of what successful follow-up looked like for me.
  2. I developed tools and processes to reach my vision.
  3. I shared my vision with others, published my tools, and supported the growth of like-minded people.

If you’d like to read more about how and why I had to write this book, and the part vision plays in it, hop on over to my book’s page on Amazon.com and look inside to read the introduction. You might even decide to purchase one. 😉

The bottom line is I know setting a vision and planning for success works. It works for my clients and it works for me. Now it can work for you too.

When someone asks you, “What are your New Year Resolutions?”

What will I say when someone asks me about my resolutions? You know they’ll ask. I’ll answer, “I have a vision for 2016. I will be comfortable seeing myself in photos, I’ll have a consistent pipeline for business, and I’ll tell my personal and professional story on Instagram.”

I’d love to read your vision statements for 2016 and share them to inspire others. Please comment and post your vision for the New Year.

If you’d prefer, you could post it on the Intentional Growth Strategies wall on Facebook. Either way, I can’t wait for you to inspire us!

Soma

My family

My family wishes you the best in 2016!