One Day 5 Years from Now

Today’s topic for discussion takes a look at one day in the future from the perspective of an executive director. The executive director in this vision exercise is fictional; her character is inspired by a culmination of leaders I have known and the story is presented in the first person.

It’s 9:00 am when my phone rings. A local reporter wants to know my thoughts on a recent news event. We set up a time to meet later in the afternoon. I notify the communications team and they begin to work on our key messages.

At 10:00 am I’m at a meeting with management staff.

My director of HR tells me that we’ve received several highly qualified resumes in response to our posting for a new director in our new branch in a different city. It’s amazing how many people want to work for us!

My director of programs and services shares his excitement about how their strategy to improve success rates for our clients is paying off. We’ve seen a 10% increase of clients succeeding compared to last year. Frontline staff are greatly encouraged by this and are more determined than ever to provide excellent care – the type of care we’ve already become well-known for.

My director of development and communications talks about how our supporters and volunteers’ involvement in our programs is greatly increasing and complementing our fundraising efforts. She mentions a major donor who wants to catch up with me on a project he’s been funding – he has some ideas that may help. We schedule a time to meet with him.

As the meeting concludes, I can’t help but smile – what a great team we have!

It’s 12:00 pm. I head out to lunch with one of our newest employees who provides direct care to our clients. These are my favourite lunches. I’ve made it a practice to meet with all new employees within their first 3 months of employment to ask them how they’re doing, to find out what they’re passionate about and what their dreams for the future are. So many innovative programs inspired by their dreams have been initiated in the past. I’m so glad I came on board with this idea when my director of HR suggested it several years back!

It’s 1:30 pm and I’m heading back to the office when John, a client, stops me to say how thankful he is for the services we provide, specifically, how thankful he is for Jan, his assigned worker. I smile and say, “You’re welcome, you’ve worked hard for this too!”

I head to my office and pick up the phone to dial Jan. I tell her how grateful we are that she works for us and that she makes such a big difference to people like John. Embarrassed, she brushes it off and says she’s only doing her job. I know that she’s glad I called though – it affirms and encourages her in her work.

It’s 2:00 pm. I walk out to reception to meet the reporter. We set up for the interview outside by our organization’s sign. I am prepared with key messages provided earlier and the interview flows smoothly. A client who has been prepped to share her story also gives a short statement. The local news stations call us often for our opinion – we’ve become the organization they seek out when they need an expert opinion from our sector.

I know that as we end the interview, our communications manager will be monitoring the media to see if we got our key messages across as we intended and figuring out how we can do it even better the next time.

It’s 3:00 pm and I am meeting with one of my directors for our monthly check-in. We’re reviewing his goals and priorities for this quarter. He has identified a potential issue of concern and I listen as he explains it and offers recommendations to mitigate his concerns. I agree with his assessment and offer my support. He has grown so much as a leader and I have complete confidence in his ability to lead his team in this situation.

It’s 6:00 pm. I’m getting ready to go home when my phone rings. It’s a prominent woman in my city who saw me on the news earlier and wants to become involved in our organization. You see, she had a son who may have greatly benefitted from our programs, had she known back then that we existed. She wants to offer her support in any way she can to make a difference in honour of his memory. I am moved by her story and before I hang up I tell her that I will have our director of development follow-up with her. Knowing how passionate and dedicated this director is, I’m sure she’ll get a call before the end of the day tomorrow…

This exercise of visualizing a day in the future sets you up so that every decision you make from then on will naturally lead you toward your vision – even before you get your strategic plan on paper.


Suggested Questions to start the Discussion

What would your future day look like 5 years from now?

In the example above it is obvious that engaging staff and the community are important to the executive director. What is important to you, how can it be reflected in your one day 5 years from now?

Who do you see working on your team with you?

How is the passion and dedication of your employees inspiring others to become involved?

How is the community responding and contributing to your organization?

* If you do this exercise please share your vision below or if you write a post on One Day 5 Years from Now, please come back and share your link in the comment section.

The purpose of The Other Bottom Line is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.



  1. Kerwyn Hodge

    I love this exercise, Diana! The first time I envisioned my life in the future was under the guidance of David Byrd. By crafting a Vision Statement, it allowed me to really dream once again. I don’t mean that in the daydream-but-do-nothing sense. Rather, it opened me up to possibilities I never allowed myself to embrace. Like you, he had us focus on more than the circumstances. He wanted us to FEEL what accomplishing those things means. He also had us write it in first person. The one thing he added was envisioning our entire day, not just our workday. That helped us see that our Vision should encompass our entire life, not just one segment (no matter how significant that segment may be). Thanks for firing up my imagination once again!

    • theotherbottomline

      Thank you Kerwyn. I have also done this exercise with the whole day as opposed to just the work day. I find if you can feel what it feels likes and see where you’re going, even without a strategic plan you will start making decisions and taking on projects that will take you there. Your thoughts?
      Thanks for stopping by Kerwyn.

      • Kerwyn Hodge

        I agree 1,000% (not just 100%), Diana! Our subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between a vision and reality. So if we have a solid vision, one where we see the sights, smell the scents, and fell the emotions, then our subconscious figures that is the way things SHOULD be. It then goes about moving us in a direction that allows our circumstances to match the vision. Therefore, the vision is crucial! The clearer, more compelling our vision, the easier we’ll “find” opportunities that align with it. 🙂

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