A study by Dr Gail Matthews, a Psychology Professor at Dominican University of California, demonstrated that writing down your goals increases the odds of success by 42%.

My first job after graduating was glorified tea maker to a chain-smoking boss whose favourite word when he spoke to me was, “error”. The job of “Consultant” had somewhat been mis-sold to me and I should have known having seen the smoke-filled room, the ashtray piled high and the confined space littered with used teabags. However, I took the job and should have left immediately but for various reasons, didn’t.

My boss, let’s call him Harry, would stand over my shoulder as he dictated his letters and shouted “error” every time I made a grammatical mistake. It was every other sentence and hugely soul-destroying as ironically, I harboured dreams of being a writer.

However, no job in my career history propelled me like this one. Weirdly, when I feel confined, there is space to dream and one day, when he was at a client meeting, I took out a piece of paper from the printer tray and wrote down my goals. It went something like this:

* I am a best-selling novelist

* My books are translated internationally

* I write films and plays

* I have my own consultancy where imagination and creativity are at the centre of what I do

And so it went on……

I folded the piece of paper and put it in the book that had inspired this process (Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People — the chapter on Beginning with the end in mind). Very recently, whilst moving house, I came across that list written over twenty years ago, I slowly unfolded it and read it. Pretty much everything had materialised.

Dr Gail in her study, suggests not just writing goals, but committing to goal-directed actions, and also, creating accountability for those actions.

I would add:

  • Describe them in full technicolour, detailing how it will make you feel.
  • Take Action. HUGE if possible (perhaps don’t create a double life). Huge action shows commitment and will get you to where you want to go faster.
  • Journal out your your fears and doubts. When you put them on the page, they are less scary and surmountable. Journaling also allows access to your subcounscious mind — your biggest ally.


I had lost my voice. By this, I mean the little voice that used to be my GPS, the one that would tell me to turn left instead of right. It had been my constant companion who had gotten me out of many a sticky situation. Then one day, like a neglected lover, it upped and left. No note, nothing.

To tell you the truth, at first I didn’t even notice. I was busy constructing a Fakebook narrative, looking good in the outer-world, seeking validation in the number of likes and generally losing myself in other voices.

Despite the noise, it all felt quite empty. I missed my voice, the one who did not follow, the one who would say, “This is the way, let’s go,” and then proceed to take me on all sorts of crazy adventures. So, I went in search of it.

Here’s what I learnt in the year of finding my voice:
Turn off the noise, even for a day. Whatever your method of distraction: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Insta…..turn it off.
Don’t seek validation from other people — even the “experts”. Your path is unique. No one else can possibly know the exquisite alchemy that makes you unique.
Still no voice? It is hiding — keeping score of the times you disregarded it, silenced it, betrayed it. Coax it back. How?

Sit and wait. Go for walks, write, tell it you are sorry and will do whatever it takes to listen.
Still no voice?

Be uncomfortable and wait some more.

Wait with a defiance that says you will not leave until it speaks to you.
And then, when it whispers: listen. Listen with fearless courage and go wherever it may want to take you….