A few weeks ago, Kaye decided that instead of sitting down to go through my list of work to do every week, she would start coaching me instead in personal development. Our first session led to the epiphany of sorts that I described in Who am I and What Do I Want? so you will understand that I was looking forward with some interest to the next one…

Last week it was all about my vision, what it is and why it’s important to have one.

I’ve had visions before. My most memorable one of recent years came around August 2006 while I was about 2km into a 4k run, training for my first ever 10k which was only about 4 weeks away at the time. I was starting to struggle already, and was giving myself (figuratively speaking of course) a thorough kicking for having spent most of the previous winter sitting on the couch, eating pies and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

At that time, I was also waiting to hear if I’d been successful in my interview for my (then) dream job. I was relatively optimistic, but as always in the Bank you could never be sure until you received the letter written in blood from HR – and sometimes not even then. So things were a little up in the air, so to speak.

My vision came as I was jogging along the canal, somewhere between Ashley Terrace and the aqueduct over Slateford Road. I suddenly saw a clear image in my head of crossing the finishing line (in under an hour) at the 10k in September, knowing that I’d started the new job and was looking forward to fabulous future career shininess.

The more I thought about it, the clearer it all became. I started imagining myself being congratulated by friends and family on my double achievement, and honestly felt as if it had all happened already. My jogging improved from a reluctant shuffle to a proper speed, I started overtaking be-zimmer-framed old ladies, and before I knew it I had finished my 4k and was feeling not too shabby.

Over the next four weeks, I found out that I hadn’t in fact been lucky with the job application, leading me to question my instincts, the universe and generally the point of everything. However, since this was swiftly followed by the discovery that the usual HR wackiness had led to a thumping error and I actually had been successful, I managed to get over it reasonably quickly.

Taking all this to mean that my vision had been true,  I trained religiously for the 10k every other day for the next 3 weeks until it was time for me to go to Italy for a week’s holiday with my brilliant friend Sean.

One week and copious quantities of red wine and pizza later, and with my fitness levels roughly halved as a result, I was ready to run. I finished the 10k in 59 minutes and 33 seconds, and it felt just as amazing as I had imagined it would.

The point of this whole story is very closely related to what Kaye put into words for me last week in our coaching session. During my early training, I was feeling rubbish about my running, I didn’t think I would manage to run 10k, and I was feeling daft for even having attempted it – given that I had historically only been capable of running roughly the length of a Lothian bus.

I was encountering ‘Fear Flags’ at every turn. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be good enough, that I wouldn’t be fast enough, and that the old ladies on zimmer frames were laughing callously at me as they whizzed past.

It wasn’t until I had a vision, a clear picture of the future and how great it would be, that I started to forget about the fear flags and concentrate on achieving what I really wanted. What would have happened if I hadn’t had that vision? I would have been defeated by the fear flags and ended up back on the couch with my pies and my Buffy DVDs – and I would have belonged there too.

So that’s why it’s so mega-important to have a vision. If you don’t have a clear goal to focus on, the fear flags will bring you down in no time at all. So now, I have written down my vision for the future, and I’m going to allow myself to daydream about it as much as I want, without the fear of being disappointed.

At the end of the day, and the older I get, the more I’m starting to believe that if I really want something to happen, I’ll be able to find ways of making sure it does. I’ll just keep my vision handy, and if any fear flags present themselves I’ll smack them hard with it until they give up and go away.

So another very worthwhile session with Kaye Taylor, coaching mentor extraordinaire! I wonder what the next one will be…