Charting the Road Ahead

“Vision without action is hallucination. Action without vision is random activity.”
– Edie Raether

the road aheadThe trees are ablaze with Fall colors in my corner of the world, with autumn leaves falling all around me. It’s a gentle reminder to bring the year’s projects to completion, harvest the wisdom reaped during the year, and lay the groundwork for the coming year’s activities.

While thinking about next year’s plans, I came across a few notes from a talk given by self-improvement guru Edie Raether many years ago. She’s entertaining and very sharp.

Early on in her talk, she reminds the audience that human beings are fundamentally pleasure-oriented creatures. We seek positive emotional states and make decisions in pursuit of them. In fact, what we choose by emotion, we justify by logic. As such, it’s crucial to figure out what floats our boats before getting too embroiled in the planning process. To that end, it’s a good idea to spend some time reflecting on our past experiences and discern patterns surrounding our greatest joys and greatest disappointments.

Armed with a sense of what brings happiness (fulfillment, peace, etc.), we must dare to ask ourselves: What would we do if we knew we couldn’t fail? This question isn’t a cliché; it’s a call to take our dreams seriously enough that we name that place where we’d like to go. We must focus on all the ways we might get there, leaving aside the 100 “yeah, buts…” that cloud our thinking. We must be ready to create a new future and be open to serendipity. (She asks: “When opportunity knocks, do you complain about the noise?”)

She then served up the following 5 steps:

  1. Have a vision. And for every vision, there is a re-vision.
  2. Make a plan. Figure out what you’ll need for the journey, where you’ll need to go, and who’ll you’ll want for traveling companions. Be specific. Define milestones.
  3. Commit. As a case in point, she noted that George Burns booked the Palladium in London for his 100th birthday. He was routinely asked, “Do you think you’re going to make it to 100?” George would reply, “I have to. I’m booked.”
  4. Take action. “Fake it until you make it.” This saying is not an encouragement to be phony; it’s a mandate to live the dream.
  5. Believe. Barbra Streisand always knew that she would be a star even though she did not have the traditional “look.” She believed in her talent, her passion, and her drive.