This is part 6 in a series on vision, the fundamental building block for creating a life of meaning.
Whenever you start to get overwhelmed by your to-do list or feel unmotivated in a project, it’s important to come back to your vision. Without a bigger vision guiding you, why do anything at all?
As important as having a vision is — and I believe it is crucial, otherwise I wouldn’t spend a week writing about it — it’s equally important to be aware of the limits of vision. Awareness of its limits can help us avoid the traps of getting stuck in or clinging too tightly to vision.
Vision is Limited to What You Can See
The core limitation of vision is that our vision is limited to what we can see.
I know: this sounds obvious. But how often do you think about this when you’re defining or working toward your vision?
Even if you think you’re dreaming big, you’re not even close to considering all the possibilities. Because what you can see it limited, or flawed.
Here are a few ways your vision is flawed.
(1) You See What You Seek
What you can see is determined by what you are looking for — you see what you seek. And what most of us generally seek is comfort and security. We are wired to seek safety. So your vision is biased toward the familiar and the safe.
(2) Your Vision is Limited By Your Mind
The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend. — Robertson Davies
Vision is all in the mind. What you take in with your eyes means nothing until your mind gives it meaning.
According to Nevine Michaan, founder of Katonah Yoga, vision is linear; it’s a reflection of our memory and experience. Any vision you have is by definition limited by your current base of experience and your scope of understanding.
This is why it’s important to have new experiences. Even just a taste of something out of your normal experience opens you to what’s possible in life.
(3) What You Can See Depends on Where You Are
Even someone with the best vision can’t read something if it’s beyond a certain distance. 20/20 vision refers to what you can see from 20 feet away. As you get closer to something, you see it differently. As you have more experiences, you begin to see more.
The more you do something, the more it slows down as you do it, allowing you to see your process.
Vision accommodates based on your position. It’s not a static target, yet we often treat it like one.
You can’t see all the possibilities from where you are now.
(4) What You See Isn’t Real
Everything you see is an illusion.
Our brains did not evolve to sense reality; they evolved to give us what is useful for our survival. — Beau Lotto, PhD, professor of neuroscience at the University of London and a visiting professor at New York University.
Chances are high that at least some aspects of your vision for your life, or any part of your life, are based on what you see around you, especially on social media. You scroll through your Instagram feed and see images and decide: I want that. But what you see often isn’t real.
In 2018, UK-based travel blogger Carolyn Stritch shared photos of her solo trip to Disneyland, including a picture in front of Snow White’s castle without anyone else in the photo. She later revealed that she had staged the whole thing, to make a point about how easy it is to fake a life online.
The mind plays tricks on us, causing us to see things that aren’t there. This leads to vision being based on false premises.
Vision Ignores the Other Senses
The eyes are an active sense. As long as they are open, they take in information. We receive information through our other senses too. And once you realize that what you see is an illusion, you might consider that the information we receive through other senses may be better information.
What you see, the outer pieces, are only part of what you’re aiming for. We experience life through all of our senses. “Vision” must account for the totality of our experience if it is to have the power to guide us and move us through hard times.