While kayaking along a coastline, one often orients one’s self using a point along a coast on the horizon – a distinctive tree, a telephone tower or a rounded curve. Paddling on the sea without the right orientation can be very inefficient. Orienting ourselves towards a goal can help us paddle in as straight a line as possible, optimizing our route instead of curving and zigzagging around.
But the horizon is often several kilometers away, and kayaking in the sea can be a slow affair – much slower than walking on land. Even after an hour of paddling, especially against a steady wind, the horizon can seem just as far away as it was when started. This can be demoralizing. To reassure ourselves, we could look at the shoreline close to us and ensure that we are moving. Hence, with each paddle stroke, we make some progress against the shore, while orienting ourselves towards a goal on the horizon.
It helps to have a vision to paddle and orient ourselves towards. Whenever a new opportunity comes up, we can measure it against that vision and check if it is relevant. Having a vision saves us a lot of time and agony by avoiding waste.
And yet, a long-term vision on its own can seem daunting. Let us say your vision is to get an entire city to start segregating their waste. Even after years of hard work, it may still be far from realized. What we also need are the small wins to celebrate the progress we make everyday. It is the small victories – the drops that we add everyday that compound into an ambitious vision in the long run.
A good plan has a vision on the horizon to orient towards and a shore to ensure progress with every paddle stroke.