I’m on an 18-hole golf course near Alicante in Spain. I’m on the first hole and tee off with great confidence. It’s July and I’m on my first real holiday with my new boyfriend. I got to know him when I was doing sales training for my company. I have worked on my self confidence so it was actually me who initiated our relationship. He turned out to be my dream prince and together we have been practicing our golf swing so today, for the first time in my life, I’m on on an 18-hole golf course.
I am so happy, not just because of love, but also because I have started to love myself and that makes it so much easier to love others. I have grown a lot in the past months, both privately and professionally. And it is time to celebrate this milestone. We are planning to go to Barcelona tomorrow and look at Gaudi’s buildings and dine at a romantic restaurant. I can finally say no without feeling guilty and dare to have a different opinion. At work I have grown revenue 10% above the initial budget and I have gotten the employees behind me to achieve even more success.
I am looking at a very bright future and I will achieve the goals that I set for myself.
This was my vision in January 2004 and once I had written it down I put it away.I am looking at a very bright future and I will achieve the goals that I set for myself.
Creating a vision
I was not in a good place when I created the above vision. I had just become the CEO of a small software company but I wasn’t feeling good. I continued to struggle after a bad break-up where my boyfriend of 8 years had left me with deep wounds. At the same time I had money worries because I didn’t know if I could pay the mortgage every month on the flat I was living in. I focused on work because all my hobbies revolved around being with other people – like playing golf – and working on a turnaround gave me the perfect opportunity to work day and night.
Despite not being in a good place I was able to create a positive and aspirational vision of a better future where I would feel good. When writing, what I call a vision story, I could really envision myself on that golf course, how it looked, what the heat felt like and how proud I was to finally have the courage to play on an 18 hole course. This may not sound like much to non-golfers or even experienced golfers but to me, going on an 18-hole golf course was like speaking in front of 2000 people would be for some people – it was huge! And writing it down in the present tense made it real – like I was already there. But I wasn’t. I had no money for a holiday, I had no interest in playing golf alone, I had no boyfriend and my life revolved around my job. Still this was the vision that naturally came up when I thought about what I wanted for myself in the not too distant future.
Vision at work
The vision was stowed away and I buried myself in my job. By springtime it was becoming clear that the turnaround would be successful and I started to think about a holiday. Since I still didn’t have much money to spare and was on my own I thought about visiting my girlfriends in Germany. One of my girlfriends was pregnant at the time so she invited me to stay with her. The plan was to have lots of girlfriend time, do some sightseeing and shopping and be back in Iceland before she was due to have her baby.
Two weeks before my flight my girlfriend calls me and tells me she had a premature birth, the baby arrived 10 weeks early. We were all in shock and worried about the baby, my holiday became secondary. A week later she called again and asked me not to cancel my holiday. She was on her own too as her husband was abroad for work and it would be nice to have me over, even if we couldn’t do all the things we had planned to do together. As she would be at the hospital every day and I would only see her in the evenings I started to think about what I could do during the day – for two weeks. She happened to live in the town where I had learned to play golf 10 years earlier so I didn’t have to think long to decide to take this chance and improve my golf swing – even if I had to do it on my own. So I packed my golf gear and flew to Germany.
On August 9th I was at Golfclub Bruchsal in the south of Germany and about to tee off on the first hole – with a stranger – when I realized that this was my vision coming true. I stopped for a second to embrace the good feeling and recognizing how proud I was. And then I hit the golf ball with great confidence. Wow, what a feeling! I am sure I wouldn’t have felt so great if I hadn’t had this as a vision for myself. It was like I had written my own story and now I was living it – not exactly according to the script – but so close that it felt like a dream. The picture above is taken on the same golf course a few days later by the same stranger who played with me the first day – it helps me remember this moment forever.I am sure I wouldn't have felt so great if I hadn't had this as a vision for myself.
When I came back from my holiday I pulled out my vision and the list of goals that I had set for myself 8 months earlier.
Here are some of my goals from January 2004:
- I am going to be able to play an 18-hole golf course
- I am going to get to know more new people
- I can say no without feeling guilty
- I am going to be a better listener
- I am going to make 90% of our customers happy
- I am going to embrace the 80/20 rule more
- I am going to improve employee satisfaction
- I am going to read one book per month
- I am going to have my teeth corrected
- I am going to finish my MSc in computer science in 2005
8 months later I could tick most of my goals off. I had either achieved them or at least worked hard on them, some of them took a bit longer (I finished my MSc in 2006) and others are life-long goals which I have to remind myself of every year.
I was amazed looking at the list. I had honestly not believed I could achieve all these goals – they had been more of an aspiration than real goals. And the interesting part is that I had not been focusing on the goals consciously because I had put my vision and list of goals away and not looked at them for 8 months! But I guess my subconscious was working very hard to get me on that 18 hole golf course…
New Year – Your Best Year Yet
I have always been a natural goal setter since I was a child. I decided when I was 11 to study architecture and 18 years later I graduated as an architect. Still it was the profound experience of the golf course in 2004 where I really embraced the power of a vision.
p.s. New Year New Life – is my interpretation of Michael Buble’s song Feeling Good (Spotify link).