Why visioning is so hard

With nothing but clear blue sky overhead, creative work like visioning can at first, seem so enticing. There’s absolutely nothing standing between you and your wildest ideas.

Why then, does a blank page generate so much anxiety? It’s as if the brain locks itself behind a bullet-proof shell. Nothing gets in and nothing gets out.

The solution seems counterintuitive. We need constraints, boundaries, parameters. When we contain our thoughts to meeting a certain need, suddenly the ideas start to flow. Because now you have a challenge. A problem to solve. The old expression that necessity is the mother of invention has never been more apt than when it comes to creative work.

For example, instead of “…today I need to write a blog post”, you might say “today I need to write a blog post to appeal to a reader with X problem.”

“For my design to work, it must be this long, this high and have XYZ characteristics.”

“I will know when I have achieved my vision because my life will look like…”

So next time you’re struggling to get your ideas on the page, start by generating some criteria. Some boundaries for your work.

Do you have a marketing problem or a goal setting problem?

Do you have a marketing problem or a goal setting problem?

In 2017, when I was first thinking about launching my own business, I created my first marketing strategy document.

Who was my target audience? What problems do they have? How do I solve those problems? What is my unique value proposition?

Then, I started setting some goals for myself. Things like:

To be the best small business marketing consultant in Greater Vancouver.”


To have a great reputation for doing great work.”

For a year or so, like most freelancers starting their first small business, I went from project to project. I took what I could get. Most of the work was a far cry from what I wanted to do or what I promoted on my website but I put this down to figuring out what I really wanted to do. Searching for my niche.

Yet, somehow I was holding onto the thing I had set out to do in the beginning. That it was still a good idea. I just hadn’t done the work required to truly make a difference.

Why I had I given up on it so easily?

I thought it was because I had a marketing problem. I didn’t know how to get people to buy it.

But I didn’t have a marketing problem, I had a goal setting problem. When I look back now over the goals I set for myself in 2017, they don’t excite me. They read like something I would write to impress someone else. Like someone else was looking over my shoulder. I had no emotional connection to what I was trying to accomplish, nor a way to know when I had reached my goals.

So this year, I’ve re-written my goals. They’re big with lots of blue sky and a long runway. I really want to reach them and this has made it a hell of a lot easier to know what I need to do this year, this month, this week and today.