A Pledge for Big Visions
We live in strange times. The problems of the world today seem to be growing by the day and taking on almost overwhelming proportions. Climate change, polarization and fragmentation of political discourse, worsening economic inequality, the Corona crisis, to name a few. In the face of all this, it is often easy to lose hope, to say to ourselves, “what the heck, nice try, we tried.” Especially since the alternative courses of action that are widely communicated are so darn unsatisfying: eat less meat, fly less, travel less in general, buy organic, and donate some of your income. Great. Very inspiring. What would it be like on the other hand, if it were okay to dream big and be passionate about aspiring to great visions for change?
Yes, all these little changes can make a contribution to larger changes. But they only unfold their effect when many people join in. That’s why it’s so unsatisfying to optimize one’s own life in this way: it lacks punch. In other words, eating less meat is not an experience of self-efficacy. Moreover, this picture of change clearly lacks vision. For although the totality of societal transformation is shaped by the behavior of individuals, it is more than just the sum of its parts.
That is to say: You can make a difference, beyond your consumer behavior.
A Pledge for Big Visions
A vision is a vivid narrative of what one’s own life, one’s own community, a project or even an entire society could look like. It is characterized by possibilities rather than probabilities and triggers a joyful tingling inside us when we think that our life could actually be like this. A vision is a positive expression of what we want to see in the world. Rather than “cities without cars,” a vision would be “cities with well-developed bike infrastructure and affordable public transit.” It’s always more motivating to work for something rather than against something, isn’t it?
Such a vision statement is not a concrete declaration of goals. Rather, it is about building a lighthouse for oneself to orient oneself and align one’s own actions with it. Vision isn’t about “working towards the vision becoming a reality someday.” Rather, clarity about our vision enables us to live out of our vision every day, to keep an eye out for the opportunities that arise for us today and to act accordingly, instead of waiting for the great upheaval.
Your Vision Counts!
Far too often, our visions don’t stand a chance against the “constraints” of life in the 21st century. We either don’t have the capacity to let them emerge or we already have such a fixed image of how our life should be, that we loose touch with what really motivates us from the heart.
And when we do recognize a glimmer of our dreams, an inner voice usually comes up immediately, that tells us: “Leave it, stay where you are, it’s safe here and we know our way around. Who knows what dangers lurk over there.” This voice, by the way, finds very creative ways to talk us out of our dreams. It’s just as smart as we are. That’s why it’s often so hard to recognize it for what it is.
So why not give up altogether?
Two reasons: first, there is nothing more beautiful and fulfilling than knowing that you lived today from your own vision. You can certainly imagine this: allow yourself to dream for a moment. What would your life look like in your wildest dreams? What would you do, where would you live, with whom? Now imagine going to bed at night knowing that you lived your dream today. Isn’t that exciting? And isn’t life far too great a gift to just let it trickle away day by day?
The second reason: We need you and your vision! By we I mean all of us, the 7,752,999,999 other people on this planet. The challenges we face are so fundamental that we cannot do without your vision! And I don’t mean your ideas on how to save a little more CO2. I mean the big vision, your ideas for how our society should be organized, where the food for 10 billion people will come from, how we will organize housing, where our energy will come from, how we will measure value and on which ethical foundations we will build our co-existence. Now that may seem like a bit much to take in all at once. But I know that as you read this article right now, you had more than just one idea about these topics. I am absolutely certain that you have answers to these questions that only you can give, because only you have had the very life experiences that shape your perspective.
Because your vision is so important for your life and the world, I ask you: don’t give up on it! If it seems unattainable, break it down into the smallest and most fun step you can think of, talk about it with your friends, and seek support when you get stuck. If your vision is still a little unclear, try to focus on what you can be sure of — the principles that underlie a good life for you. The most important thing is to start, everything else will come along the way.
If you liked this article, if you want to discuss it, if you see things differently, or if you want to take the idea further, please contact me. By mail, Linked-In or Twitter. I look forward to your message!