Vision without action is “just pretend,” as a young activist told me.
A vision works only if we create a plan for how to accomplish it – a road map to get to our goal. Because we know the place we’re moving toward, we have more patience if the road detours or if we encounter flat tires, dead batteries, or other stops and starts as we move toward our vision.
Fear of Planning
Sometimes people are resistant to making long-term plans because they think doing so locks them into one way of working and does not leave the flexibility to change in the moment. This is not true: we can respond to urgent unexpected emergency situations while moving toward our vision. It’s the vision that inspires and motivates people to stay in it for the long haul, leading us toward lasting, pro-active, positive action for change.
Of course, sometimes we need to shift in order to respond to a current situation, whether it’s a crisis such as a pandemic or the loss of a major foundation grant. But it is easier to make critical decisions like this in the context of a long-term strategic plan based on our vision.
When the Piedmont Peace Project created its annual plan (based on our longer vision), we laid out all of our work for the coming year and created goals and strategies for achieving them. During the last couple of days of our planning retreat, we had to stop and redo the plan because we learned that the U.S. would be bombing Iraq within a month. We knew that the war would affect us disproportionately, since so many in our community served in the military. We changed our one-year plan over a two-day period, but we were able to do it in such a way that we still accomplished all of our visionary goals for the year, although with a different strategy that responded to the crisis facing us.
Here’s a simple form for action planning that we used to guide us.
Had we not had a vision, goals, or even a plan, we would have responded in a reactive mode, rather than moving forward in a way that helped our group strengthen and grow in an organized way, while responding to the critical moment.
Make It Happen
Go from a place of vision to creating a realistic, doable plan of action. Go from what you want to how to get there. Then be prepared for potholes and learn how to swerve!