What is the difference between a vision and a goal?

This is a great question and one that I find myself regularly discussing with my clients.

First thing to say is that both concepts, at least as I define them, are essential tools in the creation of a valuable and happy life.

Let’s start with vision. The best definition I’ve come across is that a vision is: ‘A clearly articulated, resulted oriented, picture of the future you intend to create.’

Now in this definition there are three critical words and phrases, namely, results oriented, picture and intend to create.

Let’s look at each.

Results oriented suggests a degree of specificity that is lacking in most people’s view of the future. Therefore, according to this definition, a nice car, good salary and comfortable house, is not a vision. Whereas 2 children, a red BMW, a $200k salary and a 4 bed-roomed house in Greenwich, is a vision!

In terms of a picture, you must actually be able to visualise yourself in a life that energises you and drives you forward. This is not all about stuff. You need to feel good, now and in the future. So test the picture and how you’ll feel if that scenario comes to pass.

Lastly the phrase intend to create is crucial. A vision is primarily what I call an “aligning intention”. I used to think that arriving and achieving was key but I now believe that having alignment on life’s journey is vitally important. Your destination may change but what’s important is that you know where you’re going at any point in time.

A vision therefore is an energising view of the future that you share with your friends and family and which helps you through the inevitable ups and downs of life.

So if that takes care of the vision concept, what do we mean by the word goal?

Many of you will have heard of the concept of SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic (or Relevant) and Timely.

Think of these goals as the milestones on your journey towards your vision of the future.

It’s no use setting goals that are vague. Losing weight is not enough but joining the gym and shedding 4kg by September is definitely a suitable and specific goal.

Goals give you the opportunity to celebrate success, to monitor your progress and to re-evaluate your vision in light of new circumstances.

So there you have it. The distinctions I make between goals and vision.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you use and differentiate between these concepts.