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What is Vision?

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Jeff Chapman

Partner, Family Business & Wealth Advisor VIEW BIO

I especially remember the excitement over the year 2020, and how vision had become a major theme for the year.

So much for 2020. How’s your vision now? Do you remember way back before the pandemic? Of course. There were still problems in the world, but there were a lot of things going well and the economy was booming. The markets were doing well. And I especially remember the excitement over the year 2020, and how vision had become a major theme for the year.  

Many conferences and marketing departments were leveraging this play on words, 2020 vision. And I think it was really catching on. At least that was for me. And then with a fell swoop. COVID 19 squashed many of our thoughts around vision and forced us to focus our attention squarely on the present. Maybe even just on surviving day to day or week to week.

However, we’ve come a long way. I don’t know about you, but I feel it’s time to start looking to the future and returning to that theme of vision again. So, what place does vision have in your life? Has it guided you? Has it eluded you? Are you a master of today focusing on the tasks at hand? Or have you been a mastermind working out your long-term game plan?

Studies have shown that getting where you want to go is more likely with articulated goals and strategies. Yet many people do life one day at a time. We’re figuring things out as they go along. However, I would propose that whether you’ve been consciously using a plan or not, you’ve still been moving towards and being governed by some form of vision.

Let’s give this a little more thought. So, what is vision? There are many definitions out there, but here are some of the things that come to mind for me. Vision is the ability to think about or plan for the future with wisdom, imagination, and anticipation. An articulated vision can result in stated objectives that can guide planning and decision making. 

Your vision is also a description of your preferred future. We ask our clients this question all the time, and many struggle with it. Do you have an answer to that? Question? If you struggle to articulate your vision, maybe this will help. Much like vision was a strong theme for 2020, the question WHY, has been a strong theme over the last decade or so.

In fact, there was a book written by Simon Sinek back in 2009 called Start with Why. This really fueled the whole idea. It’s an excellent book in which your vision is found in your answer to the question why.  I particularly enjoyed his use of the story of the Wright brothers who built the first successful airplane. The message was basically that if someone were to ask them why they were doing what they were doing, spending their money working all the time, taking big risks, they would say it’s because they wanted to fly. This was their vision. This was their way. Very compelling indeed. In fact, many others embraced this, causing them to join in their efforts and help them to eventually succeed.

So maybe you don’t think you have a vision, and you might even dislike being asked what your vision is. But if I were to walk up to you as you were working on something and purposefully allocating your time and resources and ask you why you are doing these things, I’m sure some answers would come to mind. In fact, maybe there are some answers coming to mind for you now. These answers, these whys, are foundational elements of your personal vision, even if you never thought of it that way. So now let me ask you this. To what degree is your current life the realization of a vision you’ve consciously pursued?

Many people will say they didn’t really have a plan. They just walked through open doors and figured things out as they went along. And that’s how they achieved what they have done so far. I think it’s important to clarify that what they’re talking about is more of a strategy than vision, following a master plan or winging it day by day. They were still doing what they were doing, going to work every day, allocating their time and resources in a certain way because deep down inside they were serving their vision. This is why I think putting some effort into articulating your personal vision for the future, for your life, is worthwhile. I believe there’s fulfillment in having stated things you would like to accomplish and a future you would like to experience. I think life is richer with a sense of purpose, especially if you believe you have some degree of responsibility or at least opportunity to enjoy your life and make the world a better place. 

You may find that you’ve been locked in a pattern of making money with the basic vision of eliminating stress, providing for your family, and maybe enjoying some good things in life. And that’s fine. I can’t criticize that. But if you believe that life is richer with a greater purpose, and especially if you become wealthy enough that those basic issues have been addressed, is it possible that there may be opportunity to imagine that your whys are now embracing vision that could compel and enrich your life? I’ll never forget meeting with a client couple and showing them that they had come to a point in life where they were retired, they had enough money to cover all their needs, and expected to have a considerable amount left over.  I talked about this idea of vision with them for a bit, and suddenly the wife turned to me and said, “you mean I get to dream?” This was very exciting for her and a wonderful example of how exploring vision can bring value to your life.

Your vision can include things like your vision for the relationships you have in your life with your family, friends, and the communities you’re part of, who you want to be, who you want to be with, what you want to do in those circles. It also includes the kind of lifestyle you want to have. Maybe where you live, the home you have, the kind of food you eat, the traveling, and other activities you’ll do. Very significant are the things you would like to do and accomplish with your talents in work, business, or academics or other areas. And maybe there’s a compelling vision for the impact you want to have in this world. And maybe you have a “why” compelling enough that others will want to join with you, just like the Wright brothers. This has been a good thought process, but I’ll bring it home like this in order to get on track with a vision that’s inspiring for you. You need to think about it and intentionally build it into your planning. Or it might never happen.

At Covenant this is what we mean by holistic planning. I want to help you articulate your vision and then structure your wealth to help you achieve that vision. Feel free to contact me at