visionTrying to build a business without a vision of where you want the business to be in five years is like trying to build a bridge without knowing where it will end.

You could find yourself in a beautiful paradise. Or it could just be a bridge to nowhere.

I’ve long taught my clients to visualize with their life and their business will look like 5, 10, even 20 years in the future. Normally we take a perfect day in their life five years down the road and describe what it’s like. From that we can build a road map, always allowing for sweet side trips and happy accidents, that will lead to their desired destination. From that road map we choose which next steps are right for their unique biz.

Recently I was introduced to an idea: what’s missing from this type of vision is the reality of occasional failure, disappointment and growing pains. Let’s face it, no matter how great your business is, there will always be stumbling blocks. In a thriving business there will be clients or customers who say no! There will be days when the computer breaks, the bookkeeper is snappy and nothing seeming to go right. There will be times when your business commitments interfere with your personal life. And there will be people who say no to your fabulous offers, even though you know you can help them get what they want.

Growing your business will push just as many internal hot buttons five years down the road as it does today. As your business gets bigger and you become more visible in the world, the little saboteur within you, the part of you that strives to keep you safe and small and hidden away, will get antsy. As you uplevel your biz, you will need to stretch yourself, experience failure in order to grow beyond your current state and overcome your fear, worry, and doubt. Again. And again.

Yes, if you do the personal growth now, in five years you’ll have more tools to deal with that saboteur, more resources to overcome the stumbling blocks, and more knowledge to solve your problems. But the problems won’t stop.

The argument presented last weekend was that if we build our vision without including the fact that there will be stumbling blocks, we set ourselves up for failure. And I can buy into this. To a point.

If my future vision includes clients flocking to me by the thousands, without me ever lifting a finger or doing a bit of work, and with no one ever say no and nothing ever going wrong – then yes I’m doomed to failure. You know if you’ve ever had this kind of fantasy how tissue thin it seems.

When this pops up for me I indulge for a few seconds and then laugh! Where is the fun in this? The exhilaration of paddling downstream, getting splashed, avoiding the big rocks and conquering the river? The reality?

My brain is no idiot. If I insist on feeding it a vision of the future with no problems I’ll simply give up. Because the truth teller in me knows that this isn’t possible.

My way of writing future visions has always left room for the not-pretty pieces of life. When I pull out my “must have in a future spouse” list (written in 2003), I find that Brian fulfills every one of the 32 items. He’s not perfect. For example: he lives completely out of sync with time and is never on time for anything… I can live with that. It wasn’t important enough to make the list and I have strategies to deal with it now. J (Which I can’t reveal because he sometimes reads my newsletters!!)

In 2000 I wrote about a future business in which I helped women find their power and live their passions. I’d never heard of coaching back then. I had no idea I would be empowering women through their own businesses. But I’m beyond delighted to be doing the work today, filled with wins and losses, obstacles and openings, yeses and nos.

And my vision for my children when they were young was for adulthoods that are happy and productive. Which they all seem to be doing! I accept that on their journeys they will have bruises and scrapes and every now and then a broken heart. Because that is how they learn and grow as human beings.

So for me, I’ll continue to paint that beautiful picture of what my future business and life will look like. I’ll include the tropical breezes and luscious experiences. And now, I will add a clause about bumps in the road, the power to learn from them, and the space for failure that leads to greater success.

What do you think about adding a dose of tarnish to your perfect life vision?