“Imagine it was 12 months from now, what would you like your life to look like?”

When someone comes to coaching wanting to make a change, this is one of my “go to” questions.

The answers that emerge can be fascinating.

For some people tapping into their imagination comes naturally. For others, it’s a little more challenging. If we can dream it, we can do it! But can we really? Isn’t that all a bit ‘airy fairy?’

Visualisation is a technique, grounded in science that has been used for decades by athletes in competition. Athletes who visualise winning a gold medal and then mentally rehearse for a competitive event and prepare for the unexpected, perform better than those who don’t.

In the world of tennis, both Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have talked openly about visualising holding up the Wimbledon trophy when they were only just big enough to hold up a racquet.

Everyone’s idea of a gold medal and fulfilment is different. A rewarding career, a happy relationship, an adventure of a lifetime or simply a value-led life.

On my office notice board, there is a selection of postcards sent by past clients. One has a picture of a client standing on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia. Another on the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle. Both clients had quit their jobs. One had gone travelling, the other had taken a new job to be closer to her family. Both are gold medals.

It seems the power of visualisation is alive and kicking! And just to illustrate further, here’s an email that arrived this week from a past client:

Hi Denise, I thought I’d drop you a line, just because I thought you’d like to know how it is going 9 months after our coaching.

So … it is my last week in my job next week! As we discussed as one of the options during the coaching, I decided to apply for unpaid leave, and this was approved earlier in the summer. Thanks to your tips all the meetings with the senior members of staff who needed to know about my plans went really well. Especially the first meeting with my line manager, I really felt in control and managed to avoid feeling like a victim or someone who couldn’t handle things.

In our last meeting I mentioned I was thinking about applying to do some part-time teaching. Guess what? I’m starting next week! It is very early days; I’m currently doing introduction meetings. The main thing that I noticed was that everyone I’ve spoken to so far seems really happy and has been doing the job for a long time – I am taking that as a positive sign!

I am planning to pursue a few other things that give me energy but at the same time none of them are compulsory, I can change my mind if I want to!

I also have absolutely no doubts anymore that this was the right decision.

I felt so relieved when the unpaid leave request came through and I can already tell the difference between how I’m doing now compared to two months ago (more relaxed and motivated, less concentration problems etc.), and although I’m not there yet, I am definitely making progress.

Even though this whole change is still freaking me out slightly, I’m definitely excited and curious to see where I am this time next year. I often think back to that visualisation exercise we did in our first session, that was such a powerful thing for me and made much more of an impression than I first realised.

Thanks again for your motivation, it has helped me to take that jump off the diving board ?