“Look ye not upon the present, fix your gaze upon the times to come. In the beginning, how small is the seed, yet in the end it is a mighty tree. Look ye not upon the seed, look ye upon the tree, and its blossoms, and its leaves and its fruits.” — ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
In the brief moment following (before the 4 year old thrust a new book into my hands), I was amazed at the profoundness of the passage. Almost any undertaking I’ve attempted and achieved to satisfactory completion – be it graduation with a degree, the launching of a new program, or planning an event – all were actualized not by staring at the current condition or position, but by a) determining what the outcome would look like, and b) keeping my eye fixed upon that point in the future and watching it get closer. Conversely, when my wife nudges me and says “I thought we’d be further along by this point in our lives”, I realize it’s actually due to the same principle – we didn’t set specific life goals. We didn’t say: “That’s the tree we want to have in our lives, with this type of fruit, and leaves, and blossoms”. Rolling along day to day, and focusing on the commute, the interactions with colleagues, or keeping the 4 year old on track during the morning routine, are all equivalent to staring at the seed. If you only look at and respond to the present, you’ll never get that tree of your future.
So how do you get there? There are a ton of books out there on planning. Most boil down to perhaps the essential elements, which reflect the quote: have a vision, and make sure it’s clear. The more clear and specific it is, the better. You can’t get something if you don’t know what you want. Then determine the steps needed (usually in some form of SMART goals) to help you achieve that vision. Finally, make it happen. Keep your eye on the desired outcome, put in the effort, and watch it materialize. You certainly won’t be able to foresee everything that the path to your goal will entail, but if you continually act, reflect, and consult with others, you’ll be able to achieve much more, in much less time, than if your efforts are haphazard and aimless.
Do you have an example of how you achieved a goal by envisioning it and then acting?