Visions & Goals vs. Plans & Ideas

You’ve got a choice.  Either strive to follow your vision or simply make do with whatever comes your way.  It’s up to you.

photo by Wellstone

photo by Wellstone

Most of us probably start out with the former.  Vision is not the same as having a passion.  Visions and goals are more easily found.  They give reason to what you’re doing.  Your vision has likely shaped the story behind why you’re studying Astrophysics, Performing Arts, Geography, English, Law…  Whatever you’re doing, it’s unlikely that you’re at university because you chose a course and institution at random.

While you head toward your visions, you make plans and come up with ideas that you hope will turn those visions into realities.

But what if things don’t go according to plan?  What if your big ideas weren’t so perfect after all?  I’ll tell you what…it doesn’t matter.

Your vision needn’t suffer when your plans have to change.  Similarly, your goals can stand firm even if you need new ideas to reach those goals.  But vision often gets muddled with plans, even though they are two different things.  Sadly, the muddle can lead to ignoring your vision, just because a plan didn’t work out.

Vision is (as I see it, at least!):

  • Overall aims and objectives;
  • Perception of the future…a destination;
  • Movement toward a solid strategy;
  • A reason to make plans.

Plans are:

  • Ways of getting closer to where you want to be;
  • Outlining a way to get from A to B…the route (plans) may change, but the destination (vision) doesn’t;
  • Building blocks, but not the overall structure;
  • A reason to carry on;

Light up your vision.  Work toward your goals.  By doing that, review your plans and ideas as you go along.  There are always changes along the way, but it’s up to you to embrace the change, rather than let it get in the way of the bigger picture.

That’s why you’re at university.  Grab the opportunities while it’s easy to use such a selection of resources.  Embrace the world of now so you can love the world of the future.

I’m not saying visions never change.  You may get a flash of inspiration, a switch will flick in your head and you’ll see the world in a different way.  That’s all the more reason to embrace the visions that come to you and work your plans around them, not the other way around.

With that attitude, passions can become more apparent and you can find more certainty in what you do.  Greater clarity brings a vision closer.  Consequently, you will be able to plan better.

What do you think?  Are you working toward a particular vision?  Has a plan backfired, stopping your entire vision in its tracks?  Has a minor idea turned into a spectacular vision?  I’d love to hear your stories.

photo by woodleywonderworks

photo by woodleywonderworks


  1. Indeed, great piece. I particularly like the way you distinguish between vision and plans — all too often, I encapsulate both into “goals”.

    Since you asked for reader stories about a minor idea turning into a spectacular vision, here’s one from me. In bullet-point form so I don’t bore you all to tears…

    – Back in summer ’07, I wrote a couple of articles on eating/exercising healthily round a 9-5 job. Couldn’t interest any magazines.
    – In autumn (fall to any US readers) ’07, I registered the domain name, and started planning a blog.
    – Launched The Office Diet in Jan ’08, not really knowing what I was doing (had read quite a bit about “pro” blogging, but not nearly enough)
    – Sent a guest post to Diet Blog, and got a staff position there in Feb. Hadn’t realised that paid blogging even existed…

    Okay, I’m starting to bore myself now, so fast-forward through several months of blogging and doing free websites for church & a charity, till I quit my day job to freelance.

    Currently (Oct ’08) I’m paying my rent every month with the money from staff-blogging. Getting a link to The Office Diet on a Canadian magazine’s blog also led to me selling them three pieces. 🙂 I’ve recently launched Alpha Student, and my “grand vision” is to have a blog that comes close to being as wonderful as the many, many which have inspired and helped me along the way!

  2. Thought-provoking stuff. I’ve linked to this blog for my first year students following an academic skills module. Keep up the good work!

  3. @Ali, it’s so good to hear how you’ve managed to find the inspiration and use it to great success. And you’re able to help others along the way. Two thumbs fresh!

    @Rob, that’s most kind of you. I hope the site proves to be of use to the students on the module. All the best.

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