Goals vs. Visions

Recently, I was listening to Andrew Ferebee’s “Knowledge For Men” podcast (which, by the way, I just love), and Ferebee was interviewing Jordan Belfort, the man who the Wolf of Wall Street is based on. I was blown away by something Belfort said regarding goals vs. vision. In part, Belfot said, “too many people go around setting goals.” [Insert me saying to myself – “that’s me!”.] Further, he said (and now I’m paraphrasing), that people who go around setting goals and accomplishing them without having a vision are usually negative because they hit a goal and then move on to the next one without having a higher purpose, which is demotivating.

This was an “aha” moment for me. As a huge proponent of intentional living, I’m constantly setting and achieving goals. However, I never thought about a concrete vision for the goals I set (for my life, business, or anything else). After searching around the web, I discovered there isn’t much out there on this topic and felt compelled to write on the distinction between goals and vision to encourage you to create a vision for yourself (life, career, or whatever else) in hopes that it will leave you happier overall.

Goals: An Overview

A goal is a specific target to achieve something (learn how to set goals using the S.M.A.R.T. method here). It’s the strategy and tactics you use to move toward your vision. You should set and achieve goals only that promote and are in line with your vision. This is why, if you don’t have a vision, goals alone can be defeating (i.e., without a vision, each goal is just something you’ve completed without a larger “why” in mind).

Examples of goals:

  1. To lose 10 pounds
  2. To save for a down payment on a house
  3. To run your own company
  4. To get out of credit card debt

Vision: An Overview

Vision is your why. Vision gives something direction. It’s your desired future. Your vision includes what you believe in (your core values) and what you want in your future (what you want to be). It’s the powerful reason why you want to do something; your overarching purpose. It’s your passion and keeps you excited and motivated. It’s what inspires you to do whatever it is you want to do.

For money, business, or career, your vision may be very specific. For your life and relationships, your vision may be broader. In either case, your vision should be clear because it is the foundation on which you build (as shown in the fancy image I created for this post :) ).

To create a vision, begin by identifying your core values, your passions, what you believe to be your purpose, and how you envision your life. From there, be more specific and remember to be clear. Your vision should embody your values and your view of the future without being too generic. Your vision can also change over time. The point is to have one so you know why you’re doing what you do, and you’re happier doing it. The same process applies when you’re creating a vision for any other aspect of your life, such as your career or business.

Examples (that match the goals from above):

  1. To live a healthy, well-balanced life
  2. To provide a happy, loving home for your family in a safe community
  3. To help people ________ (insert whatever problem your business is aimed at helping solve)
  4. To be free from financial “slavery” and be an example to your children

Examples from companies:

  1. Disney: To make people happy
  2. Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world
    *if you have a body, you are an athlete
  3. Amazon: To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.

Creating a vision can seem awkward or difficult, but it is definitely worth it. You’ll consider your higher purpose when setting and accomplishing your goals, which will leave you happier overall.

Reader Questions

So, do you have a vision? What is it? Are your goals in line with your vision?



  1. says

    I have used a vision board for years. I find articulating a vision in words can be difficult. So, I find images that represent states of being that I want and make somewhat of a collage that changes over time as my wants and needs evolve. So far, it’s been powerful and has helped guide me to and through some pretty amazing experiences.

    • says

      I’m glad to hear this is helpful for you. I’ve heard about vision boards before, but I’ve never used one. I think this is something worth trying for me – thanks for sharing!

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