Virtual Time Machine

When I am coaching, I like to take my clients backwards and then forwards to their future. I invite them to enter a virtual time machine: my coaching ‘Tardis’ if you like – and I first invite them to seize the controls and take it back 10 years.

And then I ask them, “How would you have introduced yourself ten years ago? What are you doing? Where are you living?’ What do you want for yourself ten years on? How would you describe your life looking forwards 10 years?” And then I bring them back to the present moment.

This useful first step helps people to see the difference between their aspirations and their reality. They are able to reconnect with their ideals and their ambitions; and to reflect on where their choices have led them. Then I invite them to travel forwards, to 10 years into the future. I ask: ‘What is your life like? Where are you living? How do things look? Who are you associating with? Do you own any properties? What car do you drive? Is there anything that you would like to do in the next 10 years? Anything you would like to be? Anything you would like to have?’ For some people, the aims will be value-driven and idealistic; for others, material gain will be important; and others will be planning to have children and build a family. There are no right or wrong answers – this is simply a powerful way to get people to think about and really focus on what they would want in the future.

To achieve anything in life you need adopt the right behaviours. Everything we Think affects what we Say and what we Do. Everything we Do will depend on who we truly want to Be. By adjusting our thinking so that we are living as if our future is happening NOW, we will adjust the decisions that we make on a daily basis – and are much more likely to make that goal a reality. I always say that if you get the Do and the Be right, the Have should follow.

As Steven Covey says, ‘Begin with the end in mind’.


1. Be clear, clarity is the key to success. Know what you want and why you want it. 

Many goals are not achieved because they are too vague. ‘I want to go on holiday next year’ is unlikely to become a reality. Other questions need to be asked to gain clarity: Where? With whom? To do what? For how much? When? Africa? Great. But where in Africa? An adventure holiday? Sounds lovely – but what kind of adventure? If you get stuck – get some advice. Talk to people. In the case of a holiday it could be advice from a travel guide, a web page or a travel agent; in the case of a business start-up it may mean joining Business Link or speaking to others in the same industry as you. Once you know why and where you are going, then you can take the actions necessary to get you there.

2. Dream big, reach for the moon. If you don’t reach the moon, at least you may land among the stars!

Dreams will only become reality if you take steps to turn them into practical actions. Taking action takes time and planning, and it takes no more time to plan a big outcome than a small one. So, when you are mapping your vision – take it as wide and broad as you can imagine it to be. See how large your comfort zone is at present and where it might extend to in the future. Decide where you are aiming for now, but keep your future possibilities in view too. Thinking back to that African adventure: you might begin with a package tour to the Gambia but have in mind a train ride across the whole continent. Anything is possible if you begin to live as if your future is happening now.

3. Create a vision board with everything that represents your end goal, pictures, power words and phrases. 

The mind is stimulated by all our senses. Images, words, sounds, flavours, touch – all of these will reinforce the messages we send to our brain. Africa becomes more tangible if you start to surround yourself with images, music, foods, patterns and fabrics from the region. A business dream will become more of a reality if you begin to read business magazines, watch business programmes, put images of the material goals that you want to achieve on your wall, have your business plan on your wall – and so on. Whatever your personal dream or vision – surround yourself with whatever inspires you to achieve it. Change it over time so that it is always current and reflecting the true nature of your ambitions. As the saying goes: ‘Be careful what you wish for – you might just get it!’

Vision Boards can be in any format that appeals to you.  Examples:

4. Imagine you are being interviewed for a TV show or magazine after you have achieved your goal.The interviewer asks you, how you did it. What attitudes and behaviours contributed to your success? 

Each of us is a ‘self’ expert. We know our strengths and our weaknesses. It can be helpful to do a stock check of skills to see what is driving you forward and what is holding you back. Are your fears getting in your way? Face them head on and if necessary get some professional advice or training in that areas. You will be surprised at how quickly the getting of experience can make fears a thing of the past.  My friend and mentor Peter Thomson once asked me the following questions, why not ask yourself right now…. What do you need to START doing? Take action? Set achievable goals? Monitor your progress? Seek advice? Get a makeover? Get a mentor?  What do you need to STOP doing? Procrastinating? Living in the past? Having regrets? Blaming others? Putting yourself down?  What do you need to do LESS of? Spending? Watching TV? Eating junk food? Putting everyone else’s needs ahead of your own?  What do you need to do MORE of? Networking? Socialising? Saving money? Planning? Taking action?

5. Identify who can help you and who you may need to avoid 

People are more willing to help others to achieve their goals than you may imagine. If you know someone who has the skills to help you – approach them and ask them for their advice. Find a mentor, who can help you in an objective way, and will shortcut your route to success. Identifying who you need to avoid can be one of the trickier ones. Are there people close to you who undermine your ambitions? Who are happy to have you stay the way you are because a change would threaten their status quo? At the end of the day, the only person who knows what is right for you – is you. Others will catch up with you eventually if they care about you. Be brave, follow your dreams and start living today as if they are already a reality.

Now, step back inside that time machine and think back from the future to the first thing you did that set you on the right track towards your goal. What was it? Be very clear and precise about it and see yourself doing it.

Begin it now and take the first step into a future you can be proud of!