You’ve heard it said before; “that person is a visionary”. But what does it mean to be a visionary and if you are one, how can you stay connected to your vision when starting a business? Especially when things start to go off course or when things get particularly tough?

What it means to be a visionary

There are lots of different definitions of the word visionary. Here are a few:

Thinking about or planning the future with imagination or wisdom, as in “a visionary leader”

Relating to or having the ability to see visions in a dream or trance, or as a supernatural apparition: “visionary dreams”

A person with original ideas about what the future will or could be like.

One theme that flows through all these definitions is an ability to see things as they could be and not just as they are – or an ability to see things in a  different way, that others can’t, without proof or evidence.

This ability to see potential is the key element that sets visionaries apart.

Visionaries are the creators and game changers among us. Because to create something from nothing you must first see it in your mind’s eye – you must first have a vision. Whether that’s envisioning a better more equitable, loving and just world, like Martin Luther King, envisioning a more efficient way to travel like Henry Ford, or having a vision of breaking barriers to achieve the seemingly impossible like Madam CJ Walker and of course, having a vision “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind” as Steve Jobs did. What all these people had in common was their vision.

One thing that they also had in common was the numerous obstacles they had to overcome to make their visions a reality.

The Visionary’s Challenge

The thing about being a visionary is that you’re often the only one who can see your vision clearly. So one of the biggest challenges you must overcome is to help others to see your vision too. This is especially true if you plan on building a company or leading a team. Because to bring your vision to life you’ll need the skills and support from others who understand what you’re trying to create. This is why the ability to communicate and bring people on board or “along on the journey” is such a powerful leadership skill that’s highly sought after in every organization.

Another challenge you must overcome as a visionary is finding a way to stay connected to your vision. This might not sound like much of a challenge, but as a new entrepreneur who’s just starting out,  you’ll come into contact with lots of people who will question your vision.

Because they can’t see your vision the way you do, they might try to steer you in a different direction, they might try to convince you that it won’t work and tell you that you’re on the wrong track, they might even think you’re crazy. Your mission as the visionary is to stay connected to your vision.

As an entrepreneur, your ability to overcome these challenges and remain true to your vision and what you’re trying to create can be the difference between success and failure.

When we do things purely because we think we should do them and when we make decisions based on other people’s fears, we’re less likely to succeed. Because if you’re doing something that you don’t believe in, you’re much less likely to stay the course, especially when things get tough, and building anything takes time.

That’s why it’s important to find a way to stay on course and to stay connected to your vision.

Here are 7 ways to stay connected to your vision when you’re starting a business

1. Review your vision regularly

First things first, you need to write down your vision. This is the first step to making it a reality. Your goals will flow from this vision, as you break it down, into the small actionable steps and smaller goals that you will need to accomplish to make your vision come into being. You’ve probably heard it said many times that you should write down your goals, and yes you should, but you also need to write down your vision. In as much detail as possible, exactly how you see it, in all its glory. As grand or over the top as it sounds or seems. Leave nothing out.

Once you’ve written down your vision, take the time to review it regularly. Daily is best if possible, but if not daily then at least every week.

The more you review and go over your vision, the clearer it will become in your own mind and the clearer it is to you, the clearer you will be on what you need to do to achieve it.

2. Journal

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times, and yes, here it is again. Start journaling.

Someone recently told me that they have always struggled with journaling because it felt like it had to be done in a very specific way like there were strict rules to it. In short, the term journalling made it seem like a huge commitment. Until they started calling it taking notes.

The idea of taking notes felt lighter, much easier, and less prescriptive. They’ve since started taking notes on a regular basis and find it extremely powerful.

The moral of this story is of course that if the idea of journalling all seems too much, then just write something, anything…just take notes. As long as it’s about your vision from time to time.

3. Create a vision board

If you want to get more creative with connecting to your vision then why not create a vision board. There are no rules. You just need to put anything that reminds you of your vision on the board. This could be a copy of a quote, a picture of a holiday destination, a family photo. Anything that connects you to your vision and reminds you of what you’re trying to create and why. Make sure to put the board somewhere where you can see it- or if you use an online tool like a Pinterest board, then make sure to look at it, often.

4. Don’t compare yourself to others

When you started out on your entrepreneurial journey, things were clear. You knew what you stood for, you knew what your business was about and you knew exactly how you wanted to show up. That’s until you noticed someone in your space doing something different, something you weren’t doing. And since they’re so successful, you thought to yourself, they know what they’re doing, so you made some tweaks and changes.

Then you noticed a mentor you admire doing something else that you’re not doing, well, you better get on that! She knows what she’s on about, she’s got everything figured out. So you made some more tweaks to your business and your approach. Fast forward and you’ve completely lost sight of what on earth you set out to do and why. How did it come to this?!

Comparing and despairing my friend, that’s how. Comparing yourself to others is the road to nowhere. There will always be things that you could be doing differently, but if you’re spending your time comparing yourself to others and changing everything about yourself, your style, or your business, to fit in, then this is not staying true to your vision.

The best thing you can do is to keep focused on what you’re doing, focus on serving the people you’re here to help and that’s it.

[Related: 5 Things To Do Before Starting A Bussiness]

5. Manage your consumption

Connected to number 4 is managing your consumption. No, I’m not talking about eating less. This is about watching how much content you consume. There is so much incredible content out there. There are interesting articles to read, Instagram accounts that inspire, email lists full of great information, a million podcats you need to listen to in order to learn the million and one things you need to learn to build your business.

The problem is, it’s too easy to fall into the trap of consuming so much that you simply have no time to create anything. And take it from someone whose working on this on a continual basis- I binge-listen to lots of podcasts and get sucked into the youtube hole more often than I’d like to admit. So I know how easy it is. But if you want your vision to move from your mind’s eye and into reality, then you need to start focusing on creating and not just consuming content.

6. Surround yourself with supportive people who believe in you

Not everyone in the world will understand your vision. And that’s ok. That’s why it’s your vision. Because you’re the person that’s been put on earth to make it happen. In order to do this, you need confidence, and spending too much time with naysayers, doubters, and negative people will not boost your confidence.

Make sure to spend time with people who believe in you. Even if they don’t all see your vision, they at least believe in you and are supportive of what you’re doing. And better yet, spend some time with other visionaries who understand what you’re going through.

7. Create a Vision Statement

According to an article in Hubspot, a vision statement describes where the company aspires to be upon achieving its mission. 

There’s no need to wait till you have a big team, writing a vision statement from the outset when you’re a solo operation is still super valuable.

After writing your vision down in long-form, in all it’s detail and glory, creating a vision statement is a great next step. While coming up with your vision statement will take time and thought, being able to write your vision in such a succinct and concise statement will highlight to you how clear you are on your vision.

Another great benefit of writing a vision statement is that it will give you something you can use almost as an affirmation or mantra to reconnect with your vision anytime, anywhere.

By taking these 7 steps, you’ll find that you’re able to stay clear on your vision and stay on course, no matter what’s happens along the way.