🔥 Visions, and burnout

I tend to think of "visions" as one's life purpose. A vision should be so audacious that you're incredibly unlikely to achieve it.

  • Solving world hunger.
  • Interplanetary travel.
  • Developing a novel cancer immunotherapy.

Or some other tremendously complex problem. Even with the world's talent and funding on your side, you probably won't be able to accomplish this. Even if it were feasible, there wouldn't be enough time.

Zooming in a little: "goals" seem to be a smaller unit of a vision, with the important distinction that they are 1. clearly possible and 2. possible with much less time and resources.

  • Learning how to play guitar.
  • Running a 5k.
  • Getting a degree.

These things are not only possible, they have likely been achieved by others already. Maybe thousands of times.

This is why orienting one's life (or company) around a vision, not a goal, becomes advantageous. I've found that having a goal be the root of all motivations and initiatives is much less motivating, even if the goal itself might take a lot of effort and time to make a reality (relatively little time compared to a vision). In my experience, trying to achieve goals is more likely to lead to a lack of motivation or burnout. I think this is for many reasons, but the primary one is living my life like a checklist isn't that fulfilling. "Seeing what happens," given a set of circumstances, and letting that play out, I find more rewarding. It's not what I achieve in my life that I think motivates me, but how the things I did do happened at all.

Aligning a purpose with something so outlandish it seems impossible gives you some freedom to not actually "achieve" anything. Counter-intuitively, I've found that a byproduct of this is a natural tailwind that makes achieving goals easier. Thinking bigger and spending time in the clouds makes things on the ground rise to the occasion.

When your life is a series of goals, the rational part of your mind has an easier time procrastinating, and you have an easier, unconscious time associating those goals with other things you've done. It can be more easily manipulated, changed, put off, or cut entirely. Quit on.

When your life has a vision, you are not afforded such luxuries. You might find your goals happen anyway. Or, better yet, the right goals for you.