Pipe-Dream or Vision?

Helen Keller once said, “the saddest thing in life is people with sight, but without vision.” Personally, I believe it is imperative that you have a vision if you are to achieve anything significant in life. So, in this post, I wanted to investigate the difference between having a vision and having a pipe-dream. I wonder what your first thoughts are about that question?

Many seem to people use the words ‘vision’ and ‘dream’ pretty-much interchangeably. Personally, I think that’s fine; clearly, you can have vision that you ‘see’ in a dream and you can also ‘day-dream’ about your future so you do not need to be asleep to have a dream. But what about a ‘pipe-dream’; how is that different and why does it matter? If you look up the phrase in a dictionary, you will find that a pipe-dream is an unattainable or fanciful hope.

When people attend my personal development workshops, I often encourage them to think big when it comes to formulating their vision; to not allow themselves to be constrained by thoughts about how they are going to get there. The point that I want to make is that there is a subtle, but very important, difference between having a challenging vision and having a pipe-dream and it can often be difficult to discern the difference at least in other people.

Over the last few years, I have personally mentored three different people who each approached me and asked me to help them. Before I got involved in trying to help, I wanted to know how serious there were about becoming successful and they all convinced me that they were serious. But, do you know something, words are cheap and actions speak much louder. What those people all have in common is that they all gave up far too soon and that’s how difficult it can be to determine whether someone has a pipe-dream or a vision.

Similarly, a number of my friends have asked me to show them how to do what I do because they want to do the same. Again, I have done this on a number of occasions. I usually start by showing them my results, not to boast of brag in any way, but to convince them that what they want is possible. Sometimes, especially at the beginning, that’s the biggest thing people need to know.

Then I show them a number of different ways they could go about making money online, from selling their services (a very easy way to start) to blogging about some subject they are passionate about and then monetising their traffic via methods such as Adsense or affiliate marketing. In these early stages they are usually full of enthusiasm.

So, armed with a little knowledge, there comes the crucial next step; actually planning and doing something. Until you hatch your plan and execute it, you have no results upon which to base your next step. Supposing, just for example, you wanted to make a living via writing articles. What you need to do is write an article and place in a number of online marketplaces, determine what you can sell it for and then scale your efforts to achieve the income you desire.

If you managed to sell a 1,000 word article for, let’s say, $20, then you have the data you need. If you want to make $20K per annum, you would need to write 1,000 articles. It takes me about one to two hours to write a good quality 1,000 word article so, even at 2 hours per article, that would take me only about 1 month of continuous writing. If you want to make twice as much, it simply would take you twice as long.

That would be based on working 8 hour days. If you wanted to work only 4 hours per day, it would take you twice as long again; just 4 months of effort (at four hours per day) to be making $40K does not seem an unreasonable rate of return to me. However, staying with this same example (article writing), until you have actually taken that first step and produced some articles and sold them, you will be unable to analyse your results and look for ways to improve.

You could work on: improving your writing speed for example or you could reinvest some or even all of your profits into paying other people to write for you. You could then look at ways of improving your business model, perhaps investigating PLR as an option, for example, where you could sell the same article to a limited number of people. Although, you might charge less for your writing with PLR, you might make a lot more in the long run. Doing any of these things can quite easily improve the bottom line for you.

You understand that I am simply using writing as a example here, but the same is true for any other business model you care to try. You first have to conceive of your overall strategy, you have to do some planning and then you have to run your project; you have to do something. It does not really matter too much, as far as I am concerned, how much money you make in the execution.

What is much more important is that you will then have some experience and some data upon which to make projections and take into account in the planning of your next move. Now it is in this step, or the lack of it, that I eventually find out which people have pipe-dreams and which ones have a vision. Those with a vision get to work. They produce the results and figure out how they need to adjust their approach.

So, I guess the natural question to ask is: do you have a vision or is it just a pipe-dream? There is nothing inherently wrong with having pipe-dreams; sometimes, people like to indulge themselves by dreaming about what they would do if they won the lottery. It gives a certain amount of pleasure to imagine what they would do if they had a lot of money, so if you like to dream in this way, then I don’t think there is anything wrong with it as such.

But when you think about your future, I think you do need to be clear about whether or not you have a vision. Perhaps the acid test is not in the words you use to describe your future, but in the actions you are taking in the present. Remember the law of cause and effect and that very wise comment that ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’.

If you want a better future, you have to do something different in the present. How do you know what to do? You don’t, but you find out by doing. That’s what separates those who have a pipe-dream from those who have a vision.

One thought on “Pipe-Dream or Vision?

  1. Learn Spanish

    I love that quote by Helen Keller. I never heard it before. I’ll be sharing that on my Facebook page today. Thanks.

Leave a Reply