The following is an excerpt from Rob's book Life by Intentions
If you're seeking true success, the first step is to define your personal values and vision. Knowing what truly matters to you and having a clear idea of where you want to go in life can guide your decisions and actions in a way that leads to genuine fulfillment.
By reflecting on your values and creating a vision for your future, you'll gain a sense of direction and purpose that will help you navigate the challenges and opportunities that come your way. Whether you're looking to succeed in your career, relationships, or personal growth, defining your values and vision is the key to finding your way.
What is Your Personal Vision?
While your personal vision is the map you have imagined for your life, future landmarks are the individual accomplishments you choose to put on your map. Graduating from college, starting a career, and having a family represent future landmarks. They're the markers that help you determine if you are on the correct route to accomplish what you decide to be important in your life.
Just like on a real map, landmarks show us if we are taking the correct route and how far away we are from our destination. For example, if we decide to take a road trip from Tulsa to Chicago, we would take out our map and chart our course. (I realize many people use Google Maps for this, but for the purpose of my metaphor, imagine an old-fashioned paper map. Personally, I prefer a paper map because it gives me a better vision of all the terrain I will need to cover on my journey.)
If we decide to drive through St. Louis on our way to Chicago, this then becomes one of the markers on our trip. Passing through St. Louis gives us feedback that we are on the right path and making progress. However, if we end up arriving at Memphis instead, then this is also feedback that tells us we are on the wrong route. At this point, we need to pause for a moment, chart out a new path, and start moving in the direction of Chicago.
The Importance of Having Personal Vision
Without these future landmarks on the road to tell us where we are, we could blindly drive for miles in the wrong direction. We could also just as easily get lost on our journey if our map is old and outdated.
Imagine that I am going to meet you in Chicago at the hotel where you are staying. I get off the plane, rent a car, and grab a map of the city. At the top of the map, it says Chicago. At this point, I'm feeling pretty good about meeting you on time. I find my destination (your hotel) and circle it on the map. And then I proceed to chart out what looks like the quickest route.
I get in my car and begin following the provided directions. After driving for a while, I arrive at the hotel's address, only to find an empty lot. I call you and explain my dilemma. You say that you don't understand what could be the problem because you are sitting in the hotel lobby waiting for me. Maybe my problem stems from my attitude. Get positive, you tell me, and then you hang up. I get back in my car and spend a few minutes psyching myself up before I start driving again.
I am now driving around Chicago with a big smile on my face, feeling positive that this time it will be different. This time I will find the correct location. After several minutes of driving around with a great big smile on my face, I eventually find myself right back in front of the same empty lot.
So, I call you back. Frustrated, you tell me to get my act together and change my behavior. Once again, I get back in my car. This time I modify my behavior and drive faster. Of course, this only brings me back to the empty lot in half the time. I'm getting nowhere, but I am going there with a positive attitude and faster than ever.
Having the Wrong Map
Have you figured out the problem yet? The map is wrong. I'm working hard to reach my destination, while the whole time, my map is incorrect and outdated.
How often do we see this in life? John is working three jobs to provide for his family; he tells himself that he is giving his wife and kids everything they want. A big house, beautiful cars, and the lifestyle he had been dreaming about since he was a kid.
To his surprise, John receives a text from his wife (their primary means of communicating) saying she is filing for a divorce because she wants more out of life.
Hurt and confused, he sends her a text asking for clarification. "More? I provide you everything you could possibly need. I don't understand."
She replies, "Yes, everything but a supportive and intimate relationship. I never see you. We have grown apart, and I need a partner, a lover, and a friend, not a provider."
Just like our adventure in Chicago, John has been using the wrong map. He has a positive attitude, and he works hard to provide what he believed would give him success and happiness. The problem is he never checked with his wife to see if she was using the same map.
If they had sat down together early in their marriage and created a personal vision of what they wanted their lives together to look like, then they may have discovered that what they ultimately wanted was to create a loving and close family. They may have defined success as creating new memories together, not creating more debt. Support could have been identified as providing for each other emotionally as well as financially.
Knowing Your Values
If the future landmarks you create for your marriage, your career, and yourself are all materialistic and superficial, then you will end up feeling empty. Having achieved your meaningless goals, you will be left wondering if this is all there is to life. Tragically, if you are like most people, you will then end up making more materialistic goals in hopes that they will somehow satisfy you.
Don't get me wrong; money is great. I would rather have it than not have it. Life is a lot less stressful when you have the money to pay your bills. But my happiness has never been dependent upon it.
The truth is, you and I don't really want the money, we want what the money provides us and how it makes us feel. For me, money represents the freedom to spend my life doing what I want, with the people I love.
While the personal vision I have for my life includes future landmarks such as money and material objects, it also includes health goals, achievement goals, relationship goals, and many other things that money doesn't provide.
Values and Vision
Businesses and organizations often fall into this same trap of operating out of the wrong paradigm. Certainly, a company must make money to keep its doors open. Unsuccessful companies focus almost entirely on the almighty dollar. With the belief that money is their whole reason for existence, they cut corners, skimp on resources, and treat employees as liabilities.
Successful businesses, however, have a stronger reason for operating other than just the bottom line. These firms focus their efforts on creating quality products that add value to their customers' lives. Of course, they look to minimize the loss to increase revenue, but only if it will benefit everyone involved.
They see their employees as assets who add value to the company. In addition, they value everyone's opinion and point of view.
This broad perspective enables them to consider all possible consequences when making decisions. They have a strong vision for their business that includes future landmarks of growth and contribution as well as financial rewards.