When I look back on New Years Day one year ago, at the beginning of 2017, I would never have guessed all that’s happened in a year. That’s probably a good thing. Surprises can be fun. Earlier last year, we got to go to Universal Studios for the first time and visit Harry Potter world and try out the rides. It’s kind of weird to see a replica of Hogwarts and realize that it started out as just a piece of imagination in the mind of a woman named Joanne in Scotland. She had a vision of a boy with a scar while riding a train. Look what has come from that one vision!
I know it’s common to come up with New Years resolutions and then promptly abandon them. But I’m a firm believer in the power of setting goals. The power of vision. Last night, my wife and I sat down with our kids and tried to motivate them to come up with “vision boards”. These are framed poster boxes where you can pin pictures. Instead of coming up with goals for 2018, we encouraged them to think farther, to imagine places they wanted to visit, skills they wanted to master, or careers they might want to consider. Then we worked together to help find pictures (thank you Google!) to represent these visions of the future. Because change is difficult, I showed them a little video off Youtube from a favorite book of mine, Switch. It’s an analogy called the elephant, the rider, and the path. It’s only 2 minutes long — I encourage you to watch it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9KP8uiGZTs
I also shared with them a vision board that I did back in 2008, ten years ago. The vision goal was becoming a full-time author (not growing a beard!).
It didn’t happen when or how I thought it would. But there is something interesting that happens when you set goals and stop making excuses. We don’t control the timing of major events in our lives. I sure didn’t plan on moving to the Rocky Mountains last year. But we have a purpose in this world and when we try to live up to it, amazing things happen. And amazing things have happened to my family this year, and I’m grateful for them. I know people who have lost their homes, lost loved ones, and endured unspeakable heartache. I also know others who have grown and seen miracles happen. We’ve seen miracles in my own family. We’ve had major problems. We’ve been to shelters in Mexico and gotten hugs from little kids who have so little but smile so much. Even though some very difficult things have happened, I am optimistic about the future.
So go ahead and think about your future. As Robert Schuller said: “What goals would you be setting for yourself if you knew you could *not* fail?” Sometimes all it takes is motivating the elephant. Sometimes it requires a clear unambiguous goal. Other times, obstacles need to be removed from the path. Figure out what you need and then go for it!
Back when I was studying history at San Jose State, I had a professor who inspired and motivated me to dream big. She thought I’d be a great history professor someday. Well, that didn’t happen. I decided to dedicate the last Kingfountain book (The Poisoner’s Enemy) to her because of her support and encouragement. It was during that time that I was first inspired with the nuggets of Ankarette’s story. Last week I hunted her down and we re-connected via e-mail after more than 20 years. She’s no longer a history professor but is living another dream of hers. Life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan. In fact, it rarely does.
But don’t let that stop you from dreaming. Make a vision poster for yourself. See what happens.
Happy New Year!