Sarah AvenirAdam Avenir

If you want to see either of us get really angsty, ask us to make a 5-year plan. Planning that far out has always felt like a waste of time; there’s so much we don’t know about the future, but we do know that even 3 months from now, that plan will feel stale and irrelevant.

But this past fall, we went to a conference and heard Ari Weinzweig give a workshop about his approach to visioning, which completely changed our minds. I (Sarah) had been feeling down about a disappointing launch. I’d been so focused on the many details and projects we were pulling together that I hadn’t stepped back and looked at the big picture. I’d missed some crucial elements of what that launch needed to be successful, and it was too late to fix them. I felt terrible for letting my team down (even though Adam reassured me that I hadn’t let anyone down at all; we got a ton of valuable insight out of that experience).

Hearing Ari talk about vision helped renew my sense of purpose and motivation. He said that everyone knows what they really want, deep down, and we just needed to allow ourselves to explore what that was.

His approach also made me realize that having a long-term vision doesn’t mean that our plans are set in stone. They can and should change as we learn more information. But it gives us a place to set our sights and a clear direction to communicate to others, giving us confidence that we can create the future we want to see.

Ari gives a basic run-down of his process, which we’ve summarized and edited for our purposes here.

1. Pick your project
This can be any project, either short-term or long-term. For this exercise, pick something that is inspiring to you.

2. Pick your timeframe
Pick a timeframe that makes it feel necessary to get started right away, but doesn’t make you feel stressed or overwhelmed. This could be anywhere from a week or several years, depending on what your project is.

3. Make a quick list of wins you’ve had in the past
What have you achieved that is somewhat related to what you want to do?

How do those things make you feel about your ability to do this new thing now?

4. Write a first draft of your vision
Imagine the day you finish this project. What will it feel like? What will be happening? Take 15-30 minutes to describe it to yourself in detail.

For more details on how to write your vision, read about Ari’s approach.

Chapter 13: FireChapter 14: Darkness