Vision vs Goals: 5 Main Differences

Setting goals without a clear vision of what you aim to accomplish is like driving without knowing where you’re going.

Your goals may be actionable, but without a vision, they’re just a series of random actions that won’t get you anywhere. That’s to say, achieving success requires both goals and a vision.

Missing one or the other could mean a lower chance of reaching your lifelong goals. But realize that there are critical differences between the two terms. Here’s everything you need to know about goals and visions.

What is a Vision?

A vision is a mental picture of what you hope to achieve, and it should inspire change in yourself. It’s the North Star that guides your actions and ensures they’re all striving towards a common goal.

Having a vision is essential because it gives you something to strive for and pushes you to take action toward your goals. It also keeps you hyper-focused on urgent matters and makes decision-making easier.

Still confused? Here are several examples of visions:

  • Your vision is to travel around Southeast Asia, where you explore unique cultures and customs. You imagine yourself speaking to locals and hearing their intriguing stories. As you look around, you feel an indescribable sense of tranquility.
  • You envision relaxing in your backyard on a summer afternoon where you peacefully enjoy time with your family. Your two daughters are splashing water onto each other in the nearby pool. You hear birds chirping, and the sky is clear and blue.
  • Your vision is to establish yourself as a renowned self-improvement coach in the industry. You regularly hold a monthly seminar event, providing powerful and inspiring speeches. A handful of your audiences often express gratitude for how you motivated them to reach success in all areas.

Having a vision is instrumental in leading a meaningful life. Without one, it’s too easy to get sidetracked and hopelessly walk around in circles.

What Are Goals?

Goals are specific targets that you seek to attain in the future. A goal may be something as small as taking a trip to the grocery store or as large as becoming a millionaire.

Whatever the goal may be, it is essential to have one in mind so that you can take the necessary steps to attain success in all areas. Without a goal, you risk getting sidetracked and never realizing your full potential.

Suppose your vision is to start a successful side business that builds passive income. Here are several examples of goals to attain that vision:

  • Increase brand awareness through social media platforms
  • Network with like-minded individuals in your industry
  • Start a YouTube channel and post regularly on it
  • Save $50,000 to get your business off the ground

Goals are the foundation of a successful life. They provide a sense of purpose and motivation, focusing our energies toward a brighter future.

Vision vs Goals: 5 Main Differences

Are you wondering about the difference between goals and visions? Let’s take a look at the 5 main distinctions between these two terms:

1. Goals Require You to Take Action

People can develop as many visions as they want. After all, your visions don’t require anything but an imaginative mind. You can even create a vision in the comfort of your home, such as carefreely traveling around the world.

But to accomplish that, you must set goals and be action-driven. Your goals involve hammering away at daily objectives to turn your vision into a reality.

This means you can’t sit around like a couch potato and expect extraordinary things to happen in your life. Hence, becoming action-oriented is key to pursuing goals, but that’s not necessarily the case for visions.

become action oriented

2. Visions Can Be Limitless

There’s no limit to what you can envision for your future; the sky’s the limit. You could imagine yourself as a self-made trillionaire. You might see yourself volunteering abroad and giving a helping hand to impoverished communities.

If it’s imaginable, your vision can be anything you want it to be. On the other hand, goals are not limitless. Even if you set specific and realistic goals, you don’t have a guaranteed chance of reaching them.

Many factors, such as time constraints and resources, could be potential roadblocks. If you aren’t careful, your goals could put you through a rollercoaster of emotions. They rigorously test your skills and capabilities.

3. Goals Involve Planning

Setting and accomplishing goals is a long process that involves heavy planning. You would first have to identify what you’d like to accomplish. This often requires some introspection and soul-searching.

But once you know your goal, you likely need to develop a strategy to attain it. You can’t suddenly decide to achieve your goals without a game plan. That would be a disaster in the making, and it might discourage you from pursuing the journey to success altogether.

Whereas visions usually don’t require any forethought or action planning. Everyone can use their imagination and envision their future self.

At any time of the day, you could visualize yourself relaxing in the Bahamas while drinking cocktails beside the beach. The bar is low; it doesn’t take a once-in-a-century genius or a concrete plan to create a vision.

4. Goals Tend to Be Realistic

Your visions are simply particular images you envision for the future. It’s unrealistic to attempt to realize your visions overnight. Doing so would eventually lead to a rude, unforgiving awakening.

But that’s not to say you cannot turn your vision into reality. Unlike visions and dreams, goals are often more achievable.

If you develop goals that fall within your abilities and skill set, you have a solid chance of meeting your objectives. And if you implement a goal-setting framework like SMART goals, you’ll be able to push yourself closer to reaching your aspirations.

5. Goals Are Thoughts

Visions are images we see in our minds, while goals are what we think about achieving. For example, if you aim to lose weight, you may think, “I want to lose 5 pounds by the end of the month,” or “I will go outside for a 30-minute run.”

But visions don’t usually involve any thoughts. They are simply a mental or visual depiction of a future. Whenever you use a goal journal, you jot down your goals as words and sentences.

And if you decide to see your visions on a physical level, you could draw pictures using colored pencils or whatever medium you prefer.

How Do You Set Goals and Visions?

Visions are the end journey, while goals are specific actions to take you there. But it can be overwhelming to get started. Let’s take a look at 5 practical tips to aid you in setting amazing visions and goals:

1. Consider Your Aspirations

It is first essential to figure out your aspirations. After all, how will you make substantial progress if you don’t know your destination yet? What would even be the point of setting goals if they’re not aligned with what you hope to accomplish?

As you start to think about your vision, ask yourself questions such as: What do I value in my life? What kind of person do I want to be? What do I want to contribute to the world?

Answering these questions will allow you to start formulating goals and visions that align with your aspirations. From there, it’s simply a matter of defining your goals and acting on them.

dream big

2. Define SMART Goals

Following a framework will ensure your goals have a higher chance of completion. For those who don’t know, SMART is an acronym that stands for:

  • Specific: What precisely will you aim to accomplish?
  • Measurable: How will you track your progress regularly?
  • Attainment: Is this something within your capabilities?
  • Relevant: Does the goal align with your overall mission and vision?
  • Time-Based: What is the expected deadline for your goal?

Lacking even one of these criteria could make goal attainment exceedingly difficult. That’s why you must make your goals SMART for lasting success.

3. Use a Goal-Tracking Software App

Taking advantage of a goal-tracking app is a brilliant idea. If you often procrastinate and end up losing motivation, then this method is for you. Many apps have plenty of practical features to aid you in pursuing your goals.

You could check your goals for the week, month, or year. Furthermore, you can set deadlines and be notified so you don’t forget about a particular task or project. Thus, a goal-setting app is perfect for those who need an extra hand to track their goals.

4. Get Constructive Feedback

It’s important to get constructive feedback from others when creating goals and visions. This feedback can help you fine-tune your objectives and ensure they are realistic and achievable.

It could also identify any potential roadblocks you may encounter along the way. Getting feedback from others is an essential part of the goal-setting process to stay on the right path to excellence.

5. Be Ready for Adjustments

Sometimes we envision a future that’s a stretch from what we can reasonably accomplish. And that’s perfectly OK. Don’t assume that your goals and visions are set in stone.

You can always adjust them when you’re behind schedule or lacking the required resources. Continuing with an unrealistic goal and vision would eventually lead to burnout. So to avoid that, make sure you regularly review your goals.

If you see yourself veering off course, take a step back and assess your current plan. Are there any minor tweaks you can make to your strategy? If so, don’t be shy to be innovative and try something new.

Final Thoughts

Turning your visions into reality may seem like a pipe dream, but setting SMART goals can be a game changer. Once you’ve done enough planning and brainstorming, it’s time to take action and stay the course.

This is where the rubber meets the road, and you make extraordinary things happen. And as cliche as it may sound, it’s crucial to have faith in yourself.

There will be obstacles and challenges along the way, but keep your eye on the prize and persist through the tough times. You will eventually knock down your goals one by one until you finally rise to greatness.

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