Monday, November 21, 2011

Vision, Goals and Their Purpose

ESSEN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 17:  (L-R) Margaret...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeBy Hannu Pirila

There is a difference between a vision and a dream. A dream is a wish of something that would be nice to get or attain. A dream becomes a vision when it has a purpose or meaning and when you begin to act on achieving it.

Countless studies have shown that the most successful people have formed a clear vision of the dream or wish, where the person sees himself already having achieved that dream. When a person starts to live according to this vision, he has usually already started his journey towards executing his vision.

What is not important at this point, is how he is going to achieve his goal, but rather the fact that he has started his journey toward it. When the goal is clear enough, the means to achieve it will appear along the way.

"When you make great, big goals - whether you get to them or not - the things that happen along the way are what makes life wonderful" - Richard Bandler


So, a good vision is, at its best, a clear and strong mental picture of that situation and state when the important goal has been achieved. It might also be a good idea to chop the main goal into smaller sub goals that serve as motivating rewards on the way to the grand prize. How do you do that, then? Let's take an example from the world of martial arts:

Goal and Sub Goals

Let us assume that you have just started practicing some form of martial art, say taekwondo or karate, and your goal is to one day achieve a black belt. At some point, often after you have practiced your discipline for a while, but sometimes even before you start taking any lessons, you get a vision to your mind of how it will feel to achieve the black belt.

You cannot, however, achieve the black belt straight after the white belt. In between the white and black belts you need to pass the graduation tests of yellow belt, green belt, blue belt and so on. These grades between the white and black belts serve as excellent sub goals. Achieving each one of them feels good and rewarding.

If your main goal is to not only achieve the black belt, but in addition to master your discipline in an excellent way, you might want to chip your sub goals to even smaller parts, like to each and every training session.

Your sub goal could then be to perform every training session in the best possible intensity and to adopt your teacher's teachings as deeply as possible. In that case the reward of achieving a sub goal could be the unbelievably good feeling and mental state of knowing that you have done your utmost to achieve your main goal.

This applies especially to those who have what is called in NLP a strong internal reference, which means that these people do not so much seek for external acknowledgements, but they get their motivation internally by reaching their goals.


Vision and goals are often essential in order to achieve success. In many cases, however, this is not enough. In addition to a great vision you most probably will also need a purpose. A purpose will give you the true motivation to work for your vision.

Ask yourself why you want to achieve your goal. And almost any reason will do. What is most important is that it is specifically your reason.

"It's more important to know why, than it is to know how" - BK Boreyko

Other people set a lot of goals to many of us. At work it is probably our boss, to schoolchildren a lot of goals and expectations are being poured over by teachers and parents. Only very few of us, however, are really motivated by goals set by other people. And even if it sometimes seems like that is the case, when we look at it more closely, we almost without exception notice that behind the real motivation is a goal we have set for ourselves.

Sometimes when you look at things on the surface level you might think that the goals that are set by your employer motivate you to work hard. But when you start to dig in a bit deeper you might come to realize that the true reason for your motivation lies inside you.

Maybe your goal is to get an approval from your boss and that brings you pleasure (external reference). In this case the feeling of pleasure is your purpose. Or maybe you would like to advance in your career and get a promotion, and achieving the goals set by your boss will probably support that aim. In this case the career advancement could be your purpose.

Whatever your purpose is, it is important that you find and recognize it. It is also important that you do not feel guilty if your purpose is the advancement of your career or lifting up your self esteem. Whatever the goal, if it enhances your happiness, it is good - as long as it's ethically and legally acceptable. You see, the happier you are the better you can genuinely also help others.

Written by Hannu Pirila, CEO and founder of HPA Consulting, eMBA, Licensed Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, Licensed NLP Coach, Licensed Sports Performance Coach and Licensed Business NLP Practitioner. The author is one of the leading Personal Development and NLP Coaches in Finland.

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