“One day, your life will flash before your eyes – make sure it’s a great watch” Anon – Toilet Wall, My Friends Place, St Lawrence Gap, Barbados.

It’s amazing where you can get inspiration from and the above quote is actually in the gents’ toilet in a little shack which I spotted whilst on holiday.

I get asked a lot from many people, some perhaps should know better, “Why should I waste my time writing a vision statement?”

Many see it as a waste of time, and effort.

Quite frankly, you couldn’t be further from the truth.

I always answer that with the following statement.

“If you don’t know where you are going, how do you know when you get there?”

Or you could ask, “What is it that you want, what you really, really want?”

(I’m in danger of sounding like a Spice Girl here!!)

Quite often when faced with that question, a realisation dawns that many of us are chasing something or doing something that isn’t anywhere where we really want to be or do. That can be a very sobering experience.

You wouldn’t set out from home tomorrow, for a family holiday or a romantic weekend away with your better half without knowing where you were going to end up. You may not have an idea of the entire route you will take or how you’ll get there but you will 100% know where you intend to end up!

Think about that for a second.

Imagine sitting in the car and you’re all packed up and your partner says, “So where are we going?” To which you reply, “I have honestly no idea love!”

It just wouldn’t happen, but you do it every day in your life if you haven’t got a vision of where you intend to end up.

I read a great quote once, can’t be sure who to attribute it to but it goes along the lines of this. . .

“Your life is a movie, are you going to play the lead role or a bit part in that movie while someone else takes the lead? The choice is yours”.

You’re either living your life or someone is living your life for you. I think that’s why the quote from that little shack in Barbados resonates so much with me.

Put simply, all the above is what a vision will do for you.

For me, a vision provided me with a true North. It always enabled me to snap back when I found myself drifting from the right path.

They do say that doing the right thing can be hard, and I have to admit I found getting my vision down on paper a really tough task. When you think about it, it should be easy. Everyone says (that’s everyone that has one down already by the way!) “Just pick a significant date in the future and write down your perfect day”. Easy…. not!

I did a lot of reading and studying into how to do this, and the school of thought from many is to write it down using a pen and paper. There is a connection apparently, between the mind and the pen that helps cement the vision into reality. I have to say I just couldn’t do that at all. I really enjoy writing and have no difficulty penning emails or stories from my past, but this just kept eluding me. It felt, for a long time, like a mental blockage. I just couldn’t connect the dots to make it a real thing. I tried for months, maybe even 18 months to get it down and it just wouldn’t happen.

I have to admit I found getting my vision down on paper a really tough task

To go back to the common consensus of thought is that you write your vision out using pen and paper and do that every day for a period of time, say 30 days. Every day you start from scratch again. You simply crumple up the previous days’ version and start afresh. I know many who have had great success doing their vision this way, but I didn’t.

The trouble is I was listening to many who made me first of all feel like a failure for not having a vision in the first place, and secondly for not being able to do this apparently simple task. That just kept making me feel stupid and inadequate. I think, because of that, I either refused to undertake the task properly and repeatedly put it off. I also then built the whole vision task into an unsurmountable mission.

The fact is, I should have just done what worked for me and that is what I urge everyone to do now.

Eventually, I opened my laptop and typed.

It came out in one go, in about 15 minutes, it was done, and I was so happy with it. To this day, I have changed very little in it. Any amendments have been mainly adding depth and feeling into it. The vision doesn’t really change but I have added depth to bring it to life more and feel real. For example, I had picked my 70th birthday. I was in Barbados, that hasn’t changed. In my latest iteration, I’m relaxing on the terrace of our little bolt hole in the sun, I’ve been for an early walk/run and finished with my usual 10-minute swim in the cool sea. I can hear the waves crashing on Dover Beach in St Lawrence Gap. The sand is pure white, like fresh snow and the beach is just coming to life. There is a clear blue Caribbean sky and the sun is bouncing from the azure blue sea. The sun bed tenders are starting to line the blue beds up in clean, neat rows, separated with matching blue umbrellas carefully placed between the beds to maximise the shade and unbroken sun for the sun worshippers.

With any luck, that brought my vision to life for you, perhaps for 30 seconds you were there with me. That’s what it should do. It should be clear enough for you to see, touch and smell because if it does it will draw you towards it with every action that you take in your daily life.

That’s how it provides me with my true North.

Our lives are filled with distraction and I can openly admit being attracted to the latest shiny object. I’m like a magpie!! Perhaps not for materialistic things but the newest fad or idea. The next million-pound idea. I look back on my early days in business when someone only had to say, “We can make some easy money on this…” it fills me with embarrassment. What I’ve learnt is that these “shiny” things are just distractions and very seldom lead to riches and never pan out as they are supposed to.

I would hate to imagine the amount of time and money I have wasted chasing some fad idea which in honesty would never have or doesn’t even align with my vision in any way, shape or form. This was before I had a vision to be fair.

What I can do now, is evaluate everything that appears, and triage it simply.

“Is this going to serve me or distract me from getting to where I want to be?”

“Will the time/money/effort I spend on this opportunity/project get me to where I want to be quicker?”

Inevitably the answer is normally a resounding NO, when that happens, I can dismiss the idea and crack on with what I should be doing.

However, on the flip side, when the answer is YES, then I can devote energy and effort into something that I believe in and that I know is serving me and for the best. That leads to increased energy levels and allows me to really focus on the task at hand and give it the attention it deserves.

Next month, I’ll talk into how you can kick start this process and work on getting your vision down once and for all.

To be continued…