Pursuing and achieving your “What ifs” is one of the biggest challenges on life’s journey. It is the greatest barrier to reaching your full potential., which we reach by putting one foot in front of the other for a very long time. When pursuing your “What ifs” it feels like you are up against an army of obstacles and discouragement. And I’ll be the first to say you probably are. I bet it feels like you come up to an impassible embankment with a huge canyon in front of you with no hope of getting to the other side. Yep, that’s how I feel sometimes.
I call this barrier to crossing into your “What ifs” the Vision Gap.
The Problem: Bridging the Gap
The Vision Gap is a river without a bridge to those of us who peer into our preferred future. Those who are visionary often struggle to realize that the best food is cooked in the oven, not the microwave. In other words, the best result often requires the most patience. When we intentionally attempt to peer into our best future, we wake up to a reality that we are not living it today. That can be a discouraging reality for the impatient, particularly those of us driven to reach maximum potential. Unfortunately, the bigger the dream, the wider the gap.
The Solution: Build a bridge over the Vision Gap.
I found a short video on Youtube that shares simple steps for bridge building. Here are the steps with practical application to overcoming the Vision Gap.
1.) Measure the Distance Between Starting Point and Destination and Plant Support Platforms on Each Side of Water.
In our vision gap bridge building concept, that would represent a clear and honest assessment of where we currently are and what it will look like when we reach the other side of our vision. This could include financial assessments and projections for business vision, relationship assessment and dreams for marriage goals, or any other type of understanding related to the gap. This requires focused time to consider where we are now and where we have to go to live into our fullest vision. The support platforms might represent a journal or written document with our assessments of where we are and where we are going. Don’t include action steps, those will come later. You’ve probably already done your dreaming. Just dig into the realities.
True Assessment of Where You Are and Where You Are Going Takes Focused Time and Honest Critique
2.) Place Two Parallel Beams on Each Side of the Intended Bridge.
The function of these parallel beams is to support the cross planks that you will place on them to create a platform on which you will cross. The planks without the support beams will just fall into the water and float away. Pointless! The support beams are paramount.
In our Vision Gap concept, these support beams represent the tracks upon which you will operate. They may consist of personal values or financial boundaries. The possibilities are endless, but it is critical that you understand these tracks. An example of one track may be integrity. Another may be that you refuse to go into financial debt to reach your goal. You have to determine the core values on which your baby steps (planks) will be built. If a train leaves the tracks it could be disastrous. That’s how these support beams keep you from falling off the bridge.
3.) Place Planks Across Support Beams Back-to-Back Until a Solid Walkway Exists From Beginning to End.
These are your baby steps! The small planks placed back to back get you to your final destination. This is where you determine steps to take along the path. For relationship goals, maybe the first plank is that you simply find one hour per week to have an honest conversation with your partner on the bridge. If it is a financial goal, maybe your first plank is to start a small savings account or pay off one credit card. Cut the planks (identify baby steps) and place them back-to-back until you know that when the bridge is completed you can reach the other side. Write these planks in your journal. Record them so you can revisit and plan. These will guide your journey into your “What ifs.”
4.) Test the Integrity of the Bridge
This step would consist of stepping back, inspecting your work, and determining if the bridge can hold your weight. In our Vision Gap idea this might mean you consider your personal ability to step on each plank. Do you have the financial, relational, and personal capacity to survive each plank. If not, maybe you need to replace an unstable plank or add a plank which will help you grow personally to be able to take the next step. Maybe you find that there is a gap too large from one plank to the next and you need help or resources to bridge that gap. Determine if you are ready and resourced to get to the other side without creating so much stress that the bridge collapses and you fall into the gorge and get washed away.
5.) Enjoy the Journey and Rejoice in the Victory
A bridge consists of both FORM and FUNCTION. In other words, it gets you across the river (FUNCTION). If that is the goal, any old bridge will do. But a great bridge also provides enjoyment as it provides functionality. Build a beautiful bridge (FORM). If well built, people will enjoy the journey. They will want to photograph it. They will walk across it for the beautiful view of the river. They will be attracted to it’s charm and strength. Do not be satisfied with a bridge that just does it’s job. Build a bridge that has deeper impact. This is primarily accomplished with the support beams we mentioned earlier. If a bridge is value-based and fosters integrity, it will stand the test of the elements and not implode with the stress of the world.
Conclusion: The Critical Balance to Reach Full Potential
I long for folks to passionately pursue their “What ifs,” but I also realize that if we try to jump over the canyon, we are likely to plummet to an early “What if” death. Journey wisely, but with resolve and intensity. All of life hinges on balance. Find the balance between diving headlong into a long hard fall and failing to take the first shaky step on the bridge to reaching full potential.
All of life hinges on balance. It’s our job to find the balancing point. That’s where real life happens.
Read about my Journey into my Personal “What ifs” in the Alaskan Wilderness in “What if… Why not”: Through the Doors of Adventure.