Mindful Creative Habits Are Necessary for Prudent Life Planning and Organizational Strategic Planning and for Their Successful Implementation

Vision Circles is a problem solving and planning program that develops mindful creative habits.

Vision Circles is based on the fact that we live our lives simultaneously on four levels:

  1. We aim to satisfy our physical and security needs.
  2. We aim to function well in our person, in our career, in our family and in our social groups.
  3. We aim to achieve our ideals such as, excellence, power, love and integrity.
  4. We will to succeed in all the previous three dimensions.

To succeed on all four levels we need to think practically and ideally.

What does it mean to think practically?

Theories of cognitive psychology teach us how to think practically to succeed on levels one and two.  Our rational thinking will produce positive consequences on these two levels, whereas irrational thinking will yield negative emotional and physical consequences.   The cognitive psychology of rational-emotive-behavior theory, created by Albert Ellis, is one such approach that shows us how to construct rational beliefs and eliminate irrational beliefs.  The following is a simple schema that indicates the progression from an event to the way we think about the event and then to the emotional and behavioral consequences of our thinking.

A (Activating event) > B (irrational or rational Beliefs) > C (the positive or negative emotional and behavioral Consequences of our thinking)

This theory claims that when we look at an activating event such as,  someone criticizing our behavior, through the lens of an irrational belief, we experience negative emotions, and we engage in self-defeating behaviors. The practical result of irrational thinking is that we do not succeed in satisfying our physical and security needs, and we do not function well in our roles.  For example, if I have the belief that everyone must approve  my behaviors and must not criticize me, otherwise I’ll lose my self-confidence, I will feel devastated if my spouse, my boss and my friend criticize my actions. Subsequently, I will compound my negative emotions about myself with anger toward others by claiming that all those people make me, that is, cause me to feel worthless.

Through the technique of questioning I will search for evidence to support the rationality of my belief that everyone must not criticize my actions.  I eventually see that there is no evidence, because people are free to criticize or not criticize my behaviors.  Therefore, out of my own self-interest it makes practical sense to eliminate my irrational beliefs and substitute them with rational beliefs that will yield positive practical consequences for me.  It makes more sense to tell myself that people are free to criticize me rather than to stubbornly and irrationally insist that they must not criticize me. 

What does it mean to think ideally?

To think ideally means that we are intuitively aware of our ideals such as, justice, love, and freedom, or to put it another way, we see the ways that we and are world could be. Then, we use our reason inspired by our ideals to discover the behaviors for making our ideals concrete.  Our ideals are the compass and the inspiration for keeping us on the course of thinking  rationally and practically.

Using cognitive theories such as, rational-emotive-behavior thinking to eliminate our irrational beliefs is the first step toward achieving our ideals and strengthening our will to succeed.   We need to exercise our will in level four to freely examine our irrational beliefs in levels one and two.  But rational beliefs that eliminate negative emotions are not enough to realize the ideals of love, wisdom, integrity, courage, freedom, justice, compassion, and so many others that inspire us in level three.  In level four we will to actualize, that is, to create our ideals into concrete actions.

Vision Circles uses the OSCAR method to develop the mental habits of intuitive rational thinking to discover practical ways to realize our ideals.

We can put both ways of thinking, the practical and the ideal, in the following simple diagram:



(3) Ideals


(1) Situation (events)  

(4) Practical Concepts --> (5) Creative actions

  (2) Rational beliefs  


Step one: What is my self-talk about the situation?

Step two:  What are my irrational beliefs about the situation that need to be eliminated?

Step three: What are the ideals important to me in this situation?

Step four: What are my new practical concepts?

Step five: How do I convert my new practical concepts into creative actions?



Step one -  Focus on self-talk to identify the problem in this situation.            

Step two -  What is my self talk about this situation?

“My teenage daughter must pay more attention to me. Her performance in school is getting worse. She seems to ignore anything I say.  I have to get more strict with her.”

What unreasonable assumptions and expectations do I have?

Is it reasonable to expect  her to pay more attention to me the more that I demand that she pay attention to me? Do I get more frustrated the more she ignores my directives?

Is it more reasonable to expect the unexpected in a teenager’s life?

Would it be more rational and practical to find ways by which I can listen to how she feels and thinks about what’s on her mind?

Step three - Focus on my ideals that are important to me in this situation.

“I want to be a loving, caring and compassionate parent.”

What are the ways that I can be firm and yet compassionate and caring?

After listening to her we could plan more shared time around her interests.

Step four and Step five - What is the best way to implement the ideas of listening to and sharing time with my daughter?

What is a personal strategic plan?

A personal strategic plan is made up of our goals, projects and activities in each dimension of our life  that will become the actualizations of our ideals.  Depending on our stage in life Vision Circles will either 1) help us form the foundation for our personal life plan, career plan, marriage plan, family plan, spiritual and religious plan, and citizenship plan; or, 2) help us excel in carrying out our already formulated plan and help us up-date our life plan.

The Vision Circles Program is a step by step method to articulate and/or to refine our personal ideals and to discover  ways to realize them.  

What is an organizational strategic planning?

Organizational strategic planning is a step by step process of constructing goals, objectives, strategies and tactics for carrying out the mission statement or vision of an organization.

There are two types of planning:  mechanical and human.  We can make a mechanical plan to put things in order such as, our closets and garages. A human plan is the result of the mindful activity of getting in touch with our organizational ideals that we will translate into actions by deciding on fitting goals, practical objectives and effective strategies.

Vision is the prerequisite for successful organizational plans.  The goals, objectives and strategies of an organizational plan will be guided by the compass of one’s personal and organizational vision.

Vision Circles is a program for developing the mindful habits necessary for the creation and the implementation of a personal and organizational plan.

The success of an organization  depends on people of vision responsible for implementing the organization’s strategic plan.  There is no plan that is human proof.  People of vision will be able to assimilate the organization’s strategic plan into their personal vision, and their personal vision will enrich and vitalize the organization’s strategic plan.

What is the importance of vision?

The cornerstones of a personal life plan and an organizational strategic plan is vision.  Other words are used for vision such as, mission statement, organizational philosophy, personal philosophy, core principles, a personal creed, and an organizational creed. The essence of all these expressions consists of: 1) an insight into an ideal that represents the best in the present and the future, and 2) the practical ways of realizing the ideal.

Personal vision, that is, seeing the connection between the ideal and practice, is necessary for forming personal and organizational plans.

A person of vision works at strengthening the mental habits of mindfulness such as, attentiveness to one’s thoughts and emotions, listening to one’s intuitions, being present to the thoughts and feelings of others, and engaging in rational self-reflection.

The OSCAR method of the Vision Circles Program requires the participant to strengthen mindful activities by identifying and framing problems accurately, by labeling one’s emotions, behaviors, expectations, assumptions, and types of thinking, by getting in touch with the intuition of one’s ideals, by practicing creative thinking techniques, by using creative imagination in the activity of planning, and by monitoring one’s thoughts, behaviors and emotions in the execution of the strategic plan and in the assessment of its results.