You are either a goal-setter or you are not.
Generally, I find that most people are much like me in at least one way:
No matter to what degree I can define my vision for future creations before I begin them, these creations will likely evolve to become something different by the end of my creative process. At least, I hope so!
To merely envision outcome is not enough. In fact, outcome visualization is flawed. If you are capable of creating a highly specific definition of your precise outcome in advance, you are likely as capable of following through with commitment to that outcome. You may be successful, but with a high likelihood that the same blinders that helped you reach your outcome quickly will cause you to miss a multitude of possible options and improvements that would have markedly improved your final creation.
Unfortunately, this also describes one of the most popular reasons people use to avoid setting and achieving written goals. There must be a middle ground between living dogmatically according to predetermined written goal plans that limit options and unforeseen improvements, and not setting specific goals at all, thereby leaving your outcomes in the hands of “good fortune”.
Process Visualization versus Outcome Visualization
Blogger/author Jonathan Fields aptly describes a productive and creative way forward in his 2011 book entitled “Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance“. The answer lies in remaining true to a process that provides for intelligent adaptation during the process of creative evolution. Fields suggests instead of the strictly outcome-focused visualization approach built on “the quest for long-term, easily defined vision,” we focus our visualization instead on “the need to take daily action in the context of any challenging endeavor.”
Citing 1998 research by Taylor, Pham, Rivkin and Armor that tested the effectiveness of outcome-based visualization versus process visualization. First, both process and outcome visualization get people acting on their goals better than no visualization at all, so it just makes plain sense to set goals. Students who visualized their successful completion of projects were more likely to complete them on time. But students who visualized the steps needed to complete their projects were more successful than anyone to finish on time, and found their projects to be easier than the other two groups.
Wax on. Wax off.
Are you a goal setter? If yes, congratulations, you are already more likely to succeed than your non-goal-setting peers. Do you have a vision for success? I hope so, or else I would question whether you have a goal in mind at all. Can you envision the daily actions it will take to achieve your success, while allowing for your creative genius to leverage additional opportunities and possibilities that develop during the process of creation?
Here are a few tips:
- First of all, don’t just write down a goal and the action steps you think you’ll need to achieve the goal. That’s how most people try, but there is a better way, and I would be happy to show you the way through such a process.
- Create a daily discipline of reviewing your vision, determining your must-do priorities, and committing to daily action.
- Use a written goal-planning process to manifest your commitment.
- Use your process and visualization of your process to self-regulate and stick to your ritual.