A Young Man Hiking.
Aron Ralston was an expert mountaineer. He loved the tall mountains and the deep canyons of the western United States. One day, while hiking in a canyon in Utah, a boulder fell and pinned his arm against a large rock. For five days he was trapped with little to eat or drink, held in place by his arm which had been crushed by the weight of the fallen boulder. Aron quickly began to lose hope and accepted that he was going to die. As he began to slip in and out of consciousness he had a dream. In this dream he saw himself with a little boy; he was playing in a yard with this young child, and extraordinarily—he only had one arm.
When Aron awoke from that vision, he knew what we had to do. He took his knife and proceeded to cut off his arm. When he got to the bone, he had to twist his body in several different directions to break the bone completely. Suddenly, Aron was free from the rock! He then decided to walk in search of help. After five miles he met someone along the trail who helped him get to the hospital before he died from loss of blood.
But that’s not the end, Aron’s story continued. He went on to get married and have a child. That child was a son—the same son he had seen in his vision when he was trapped.
That vision saved Aron’s life. It gave him power and motivation to get up and do what seemed too painful and too difficult to be possible.
The Power of Vision
Although we are not stuck under a rock in a deserted canyon, having vision can influence our lives in the same way it influenced Aron’s. Vision opens our eyes and helps us understand what we need to do to accomplish our goal. Without vision, we metaphorically perish under the rocks of a life lived far below our potential.
Wherever you are in your life today, get a vision. As you do this you will gain the power to cut away the things that are holding you back from being the person you want to be. With a clear vision, no rock can pin you down—nothing can hold you back from living a great and fulfilling life.
Three Steps to Implementing Vision
I believe that most people have some kind of vision for the future they want, but they don’t know how to implement it correctly. When I’ve been in this situation, I’ve used the following three steps:
- Make it real
Someone wise once said, “A goal not written is only a wish.” To clarify and define your vision, write it down with rich sensory words. Create images associated with your vision that you can plant firmly in your subconscious mind. Write a screenplay of the life you will be able to live as you achieve this goal. See it happening in the present moment; pay attention to how you feel as you watch this screenplay in your mind. Once you’ve written your vision, make the habit of reviewing it at least twice a day.
- Break it down
Break down your vision into smaller manageable goals and begin to bite those off one by one. Make sure you have a realistic path towards your goals—or at least an idea of how you can start moving towards them. While being realistic is very important be sure to not restrict your goals based upon past obstacles, the failures of others, or the perceived limitations you’ve placed upon yourself. Establish ambitious yet achievable goals and start moving toward them. You will build momentum as you hit these goals. Use that momentum to spur yourself forward towards your highest aspirations.
- Stay focused, scatterbrain
Your greatest opposition will come from yourself. As humans, we all have scatterbrained minds. Teachers of meditation often refer to this as our “roving mind” or “monkey mind.” I wholeheartedly confess to being a scatterbrain. In fact, I believe everyone is a scatterbrain—the human brain naturally moves restlessly from one thought to another. Random thoughts, inappropriate thoughts, noble thoughts. Thought after thought after thought. Never focusing, never powering down. The secret to a vision is learning how to guide our thoughts; focusing on the thoughts that we want to bear fruit in our lives and letting the others wash over us as we move forward towards our visions. You will not accomplish your vision if you allow yourself to be led about by every new gust of wind in your minds.
There is good news, though. The most beautiful thing about human beings is our ability to choose our response to any stimuli or situation we encounter. Most people don’t choose; they respond just how they were conditioned, how they were raised, or how others are responding around them. But this is the path to mediocrity. When you are confronted with thoughts that would distract you from your vision, don’t worry—it just means you are human. But, don’t stop either. Choose to keep moving towards your vision no matter what. When I experience distracting thoughts, I pull out a card where I have outlined my vision and then I retreat and take 10 minutes to review my vision; I remember who I am and what I want to accomplish.
Don’t be afraid to leave something behind
When Aron Ralston was dying in the slot canyon, he saw himself scooping up his son in his arm. His vision was not only important for what it showed him, but also for what it did not show him. He realized instantly that if he were to realize this future, he would have to do so without an arm. How often do we think about what we will have to stop doing in order to reach our goals? As a society we are far more prone to write to-do lists than we are to honestly reflect on what we need to stop doing. Remember that for many of us, especially those who are stuck mentally or physically, it’s usually not about starting some new activity, it’s about cutting ourselves off from the things that are holding us down.
There are some people who believe you can have it all without sacrificing anything. But these people may be waiting a long time for their visions to fulfill. In contrast, Aron Ralston learned in a single moment that he had to make a choice between something he wanted and something he wanted more. He chose a course and moved forward and there are many people, including one little boy, who are very happy he made that choice.
You too can decide to move forward and bring good things into your life and the lives of others. Choose to cultivate a vision that motivates you, break it down into manageable goals, stay focused on it, and be willing to sacrifice for it. As you do so, you’ll discover that the process of moving toward your vision is rewarding in and of itself. Even if it takes a long time to realize your vision, you’ll enjoy the process of working towards it each day.