The Vision Thing

May 23, 2013 by

George H.W. Bush

Broccoli-hater in chief

Imagine a poll of all Americans: Who is the most memorable U.S. President? How many do you suppose would answer George H.W. Bush? I’d guess five, or zero excluding George H.W. Bush’s immediate family.

You Must Remember This

It’s funny how memory works. Though inexplicably sober through most of H.W.’s single presidential term, I don’t remember much about it. There was the first Iraq war—”This will not stand” I believe H.W. remarked, referring to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. That made Bush popular for a while because many Americans feel proud watching from the living room La-Z-Boy as the Marines lay a televised ass whuppin’ on some third rate military. But what else happened during H.W.’s term?

When I think of Bush’s four years as President, besides suddenly feeling sleepy, three seemingly trivial and undeserving of remembrance memories come to mind:

  1. Apparently eager to be relieved of spending time with ordinary Americans, I remember the President checking his wristwatch during a town hall-style debate with Bill Clinton during the 1992 Presidential campaign. (Bush lost the election, in case you’ve forgotten, carrying only eighteen states.)
  2. Bush banned broccoli from the the White House. He never liked broccoli, and as President, no one was going to force him to eat it, Bush declared.
  3. Though this happened before Bush became President (when he was Vice President), Bush mocked “the vision thing” when a friend suggested, to help Bush prepare for the upcoming Presidential campaign, that the Vice President spend a few days alone at Camp David to contemplate where he wanted to take the country. “Oh—the vision thing,” Bush scornfully replied.

I suspect these events are not memorialized in the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. But for some odd reason they pretty much comprise my memory of Bush’s presidency.

I Don’t Share George H.W. Bush’s Contempt for Vision

If you don’t want to spend time with “the little people” or eat broccoli, I won’t criticize, but I take issue with Bush’s disdain for vision. And that’s where this post gets—at last—to money ideas for people who work for a living (Money Counselor’s tagline!). I believe envisioning success is key to achieving success. Progress toward a goal happens faster and surer if you practice visualizing your life after the goal has been reached.

Visualize Yourself Unburdened of Too Much Debt

Is debt your main financial challenge? We both know there’s only one bankruptcy-free way of overcoming debt, and that’s paying it off, either in full through something like a Debt Management Plan or in part through do-it-yourself settlement. But before you embark on any action plan, take time to do “the vision thing.”

How would your life be different if your debt magically diminished? With a lot less debt, what would you be free to do that you feel you can’t do now? With what would you fill the hours of “thought-time” you devote now to figuring how you’re going to keep the creditors at bay and food on the table and gas in the car? With the stress of unaffordable debt payments gone, how will your relationships change with your significant other and friends? How will it make you feel when you’re sending $500 a month to your IRA account instead of to Capital One?

I want you to get set in your mind a clear, complete vision of yourself with a lot less debt. Don’t rush—this project may take a little while. Work on it over the course of a few days. Write down some key words about the less-debt self you’re envisioning: Free? Relaxed? Joyful? Confident? Proud? You choose your own.

The Magic of a Clear Vision

If you’ve never tried this visioning technique, this is where you have to trust me a little bit.

Hold in your mind, every day and many times a day, your vision of the less-debt you. That vision may be many years and a lot of hard work off, but that’s okay. Just keep imagining how your life will be when you’re free of too much debt. Then the magic will happen: You’ll find yourself talking to friends and family about your future, less-debt life. You’ll start reading books and blogs by others who share or support your vision. The hundreds of small and large decisions and choices you make every day will be driven in part by your vision, often subconsciously. You’ll start planning strategies and tactics that will get you from A—your current life—to B—your less debt life. Through visioning, the aim of paying down your debt will become a central thread of your life’s plot.

If you can form a clear vision of yourself unburdened by too much debt and hold that vision daily in your mind, you will speed your progress toward that vision and make achieving it far more likely. I promise.

Vision Works for Any Goal

I used paying down debt as an example, but envisioning success will help get you to any goal. Maybe you’d like to live on Vancouver Island one day? Envision your life there. That’s what I did, beginning in 2004. And in 2009, we made the move.

(And for the record: Broccoli is anti-inflammatory, and one serving has all the Vitamin C and K you need for a day. That said,  President George H.W. Bush will have lived 89 years on June 12 without benefit of broccoli.)

Do you believe in “the vision thing”?


  1. John S @ Frugal Rules

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane. 😉 I so remember the wristwatch checking and the hating of broccoli. That said, I am a believer in vision. I think it’s vital to have. I think it’s the beginning of what’s needed to start that plan that will help make that vision a reality.

  2. Personally, Reagan sticks out in my mind as most memorable president, Clinton is a second.

  3. squirrelers

    Having a vision is very important, as we need to know what we’re working toward. When I notice myself getting sidetracked, I try to remember the vision to get back on track!

    Also, I do remember the broccoli controversy. I must be old, just for having a memory of this 🙂


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