“A sailor without a destination cannot hope for a favorable wind.” (Leon Tec, adapted from Seneca the Younger)

I have discovered through personal experience the power of visualization. Even (or especially) if you don’t know just how you are going to get to your destination, holding a firm vision of that destination is essential.

Those of a spiritual inclination might say that when you hold a vision, you are in effect giving an instruction to the wisdom of the universe, and it would be insulting to that wisdom to tell the universe exactly how to do its job. Just release the intention into the universe and allow it to organise things for you. This is kind of what the book The Secret says, although actually I don’t think there is any big secret to it at all.

Reaching for the stars (haha) at the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco
Reaching for the stars (haha) at the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco

I would phrase it slightly differently, and say that when you have a crystal-clear vision of where you want to be, it marshals the forces that already lie within you, in both your conscious and subconscious, so that you will recognize relevant opportunities when they arise, and will align your efforts towards that goal. The vision acts as an organising principle for your thoughts, actions, and the magical murky stuff that goes on at the subconscious level.

However you frame it, the end result is much the same. Once you have set your vision, it unleashes enormous potential in both yourself and others. The vision may not come true in the timescale you expect – in my experience it almost inevitably won’t – but if you keep the faith and hold true, you will be amazed by what emerges.

To refer back to my obituary exercise (sick of hearing about it yet?!) – when I created that vision of the adventurous, life-loving, go-getting woman that I wanted to be, I was a world away from that coming true. And yet somehow that vision seemed so real, so authentic, to me, that I recognised I had the potential to get there. I was the sort of woman who could be adventurous, life-loving, and go-getting.

After that, I didn’t have to chart every step of the way. It was a few years after the obituary exercise (the vision) that I was struck by the idea to row oceans (the project), and I saw that it would bring me closer to my vision. And so it proved. I am now firmly on track for the fantasy obituary that I defined for myself.

Create a vision.

Find a project and ask yourself if it will bring you closer to your vision.

Don’t falter, keep the faith, and although I can’t guarantee that your dreams will come true, I’ll guarantee that they won’t come true without the vision!

John Kehoe gives some good tips on how to visualise, and what it did for Arnold Schwarzenegger.



  • This really does ring true. Many people despair of feeling a lack of progress. Visualizing the place you’d like to be gives the brain something tangible with which it can define ‘progress’.

  • It’s a good message and a good exercise. The key is what you want to “be”, as you’ve expressed it, not what you want to do.
    I would add that if you’ve created a vision, the projects will become obvious, but also, that you don’t necessarily need a project. If my tombstone* reads, “He was a compassionate, loving man who transformed our relationship to trees”, I can start that right away.
    I wish my tombstone to be actually carved out of wood and that I be planted under an acorn – see, I already did!

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