Do you have any desires? You most certainly do. If you don’t something has gone seriously wrong with your motivation and is to be looked at carefully, taken apart and reassembled if needed. Do you have a vision? Perhaps… but far less likely than desires. Although you might take some offense at this, the key to the answer is in the subtlety of difference between a desire and a vision.

Desires are only natural and, in our human world, are to a point analogous with instincts of animals, but we call them desires because we have the frontal cortex brain power to override some and pursue another. We don’t need to be a slave to blind instinctual desires. Desire and instinct are equally self-serving and almost exclusively pertain only to the self, what you need and want. There is nothing bad, wrong or dirty in desires. They are forces propelling us forward and, if paired with self-control and some thinking through, are ways in which we build. What we desire (taking it’s not a pathological desire of destruction or auto destruction) for the most part are things that are better for us than where we are now. They are a way to incrementally improve our circumstance since the fulfilling of a (healthy) desire usually takes hard work and dedication. And you can get it. The higher the quality the desire, the more rewarding the path to it. There is also a sort of analgesic effect to the necessary pain of growth, because what is on the other side of the desire is more important or valuable than some hardship. We see it as an investment and a sacrifice to a better future. But still desire is deeply rooted in the ego.

Vision is something a bit different and more freed from the selfish desire. It’s more inclusive and spreads out to a certain group whose size might vary from the self (here you don’t do only what you want, but what needs to be done) your immediate family, colleagues, class, community, country or whole humanity. Word vision gets thrown around and cheapens, but harbouring a vision is far more difficult than a desire. Vision means to see, an apparition of perfection to be strived for, regardless of what you yourself may temporarily crave. There is no immediate gratification here and, almost as a rule, visions cannot come to fruition if you go at them alone. They need a band of likeminded (or even better – intelligently opposed) to be fulfilled. They are far harder to accomplish and it’s not an easy thing to learn to not succumb to desire while pursuing a vision. It’s a thing we continuously relearn in our imperfect condition.

There are similarities in the two as well. A well put together desire, oriented towards betterment of life conditions, just as a vision requires for you to realistically take a look at where you are now, what needs to be done, learnt, improved, dispensed with. They both require the highest feat of intelligence – to adapt to the changing landscape of environments and factor which are not under our direct control (very few thing are, we’re not even fully in control of ourselves, our selfishness, thoughts, feelings, minds and needs). The best way to compose a large goal would perhaps be to start small, with desires for the self that will require work and self-control, and work your way up to larger things until you see you’re able to handle yourself well enough to be a part of a vision or create one.

It’s a process. These are skills and they can be achieved only by practice, trial and error until we get it right. Second hand experience may be useful and help you avoid some difficulty but theory is a prequel to even beginning to formulate something good. Start with personal desires/goals, increase the complexity and when you can handle that join a cause. Every contribution matters for a thing that matters. You never know who you’ll touch or inspire. Life is funny that way.