The idea of going can be a difficult one. Yes, there may be enthusiasm for what next adventure or reality awaits, but the act of going requires fortitude. Some may say it’s just one foot in front of the other; others find it paralyzing as they fret over what might be. It does not feel the same for everyone involved. Even in this, some are late bloomers, some peak early. Regardless, moving forward is challenging.

COVID, the political landscape, the economy...take your pick from these or a host of others for 2020 and you’ll have some sense of why the difficulty in going is strong. The offbeat comedy, The Royal Tenenbaums, dealt with roadblocks of the unknown and unmotivated. Each character, flawed to the extreme, found themselves stymied and hovering. Taking that next step was debilitating. Some characters had found success early in life, while some were waiting for any success. None of them knew how to cope, plan and move forward.

The 4th quarter of a calendar year opens the door to creatively plan for the following year. Approaching the newness with goals, objectives, vision, mission updates, etc. feels more natural. It’s like hyped-up resolutions, but these have teeth and real heart. They become mantras and signposts. They need your attention to develop.

Developing this vision takes effort. While there are an abundance of tools out there to help you, a favorite from Pepperdine University may be the best one to start with as a newbie. The purpose is not to outline every single goal you have, but rather, to define what the overall trajectory of your life is to be about, whether immediate (under 5 years) or longer term. SMART Goals and the like will follow, but without the foundation of an ultimate truth to be run after, those goals can be disjointed and, sometimes, competing. The energy and effort expended should be used wisely and towards one main reality.

Goal setting is contextual; vision building is definitional.

In some ways, vision building is a mental health exercise. Taking an inventory of where you are, what is working, what isn’t working, what you thought would have been true about you by now, what surprises you about what’s true about you now and much more is emotional, vulnerable and cathartic. Allow yourself the freedom to travel these roads without judgement, but instead, with observation. Think of it as taking inventory. An inventory is merely taking stock of what’s there.

When I worked in retail, we had a semi-annual inventory for all locations. We would close early one night and get to counting stock. All we did was to count per SKU or per offering. We would itemize on a prescribed inventory tracking sheet and assemble them all into one binder for submission (Yes, it was paper. Yes, it was a long time ago). From there, leadership looked for both shrink issues (theft, loss) and “misses” in item selection (“we thought this product would be a hit and it wasn’t”). The evaluation and judgement came after the inventory. Do your work similarly.

It would have taken all night had the inventory counters stopped every time there were too many or too little of an item. “Oh gee, why didn’t we sell more of the red version of this? I am so surprised. Seems like people loved the blue one. But the red seems more appealing to me. I wonder why. Michael, what do you think?” You see? Hours. Take the initial count and wait on the evaluation.

You’ll find that understanding what your value system, fulfillment quotient and invested time allotment are set the table for healthy analysis and judgement. Crafting your vision from this build of information and evaluation ought to flow naturally.

Victories of the past, where a vision was achieved, cannot be our focus forever. Celebration is wonderful and healthy (always) but staying at the party long after it ended moves us from jubilation to stagnation. It’s no longer about a lust for life but about glory days. Time to move on.

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