How Rear View Vision Can Create Clarity

accountability goal setting mindfulness personal development professional development Oct 05, 2020

We all are familiar with the question “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. It’s a hard question to answer, especially if we haven’t put a lot of thought into the idea. Many times our answer is “I’d like to be doing…” or “I hope that…” which can leave room for doubt and lack of clarity. 

Does anyone really know what they will be doing in 5 years? If this year has proved anything, it’s that no one can predict the future. Things can change and shift at the drop of a hat, and there is a lot that we cannot control. 

But while we won’t know exactly what we’ll be doing 5 years from now or what the world will be like, we can control the clarity around what we aim to achieve and be doing in the future.

Each season, your team has a goal - winning the championship. By setting this goal, we are stating what we want to achieve by the end of the season and where we want to be. You can’t guarantee that this will happen or what the end of the season will look like, but that is where you know you want to end up. But how do you get there? Practice, sure, but how often? How much work do you have to do “after hours” or outside of practice to get yourself in the position to achieve the goal? 

That’s where this idea of rear view vision comes in. The concept is exactly as it sounds - we put ourselves into the future and imagine we’ve already accomplished that goal. Here’s a new example. Let’s say in one year, you want to have a new job. How do we translate that goal and use rear view vision to create a plan for accomplishing it? 

Step into the future. 

State your goal as if you’ve already accomplished it. In the last year, I have started a new job at ABC Consulting, working with clients to achieve their digital branding and communication goals. Placing yourself in the future and speaking it as if it’s happened helps you envision what it FEELS like to reach your goal. Are you smiling? Do you feel scared? Where do you imagine yourself when you are saying this? What are you wearing? 

Work backwards to answer the tough questions.

How did you get that job? What needed to be done or changed to find that job, to apply, to interview and to accept the offer? It can also help to break it down into time chunks. What did you need to start doing 1 month before you got the job? 3 months before? How about 6 months? 9 months? What did you need to start doing right now? 

Thinking about what you needed to do can help you map out the plan. For instance, 1 month before I got the job, I needed to make sure to be available for interviews and that I was well prepared to ask good questions and negotiate my salary and benefits. Three months before I got the job I was doing a lot of research and applying to some companies who had interesting positions available, and connecting with those I know in the company. Flash back all the way to the present day, right now. (Speaking from your future self) One year ago, I needed to start really thinking about what I want in a new job so I can start to position myself appropriately. 

Add the time into your schedule.

Now that you’ve mapped out what you need to do to accomplish your goals, start to think about even more specifics. How will you do this exactly? (Ie. Research on the internet, connection calls, etc.) How often and for how long? It’s important to block out the time you need to accomplish the objectives you mapped out in your rear view vision. If you just leave it on paper and don’t factor it into your calendar, you won’t be forced to make progress on an ongoing basis. 

The key here is to be flexible. Like we said before, we can’t control the future. What if you are looking for that new job and then the world shuts down because of a global pandemic? (Sound familiar??) That plan you created will have to shift, but you can use the rear view vision exercise again to help you reformat the plan. You will inevitably have to change your plan, so leave some room in the margins for shifts. 

Rear view vision is an important strategy to add to your tool kit. Many times we already know what we have to do, we just need to give ourselves the space to think through it and pull those goals and key objectives out. Take an hour this week to envision where you will be one year from today. What have you accomplished? How did you do it? When did you do those things? We can’t predict the future but we can plan for it.