By Leigh Morrow
As Albert Einstein said best, “Your imagination is the preview to life’s coming attractions.”
As we see a New Year dawn, many of us contemplate how the year will unfold and what things we should be improving on. Too often these New Years Resolutions fall short and crumble by February. In fact many people refuse to feel failure so early in a new year, and have abandoned making them all together.
“If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time”, B.J. Marshall.
Maybe your goals need to be bigger, not smaller, and aimed at achieving something really significant. Instead of five or six goals, stick to one big one and give yourself a time line, which depending on the dream or goal, could take several years to complete.
Three years ago our family decided to build a home on the Mexican coast. It had started years earlier, as only a dream, and then, slowly, as a specific goal, to actually have a home that was ours, to vacation in, and ultimately to spend a chunk of our retirement in a warm sunny location where we could walk, swim, hike and just soak in the scenery, every day. I knew we had to take the plunge, long before we were ready to retire, after seeing in my parents, and my co-workers, how age creates hesitation.
So we jumped. Head first into home ownership in Mexico and began to build. It was a stressful year, and sleepless nights of trepidation, but it was so exciting, as we watched our dream take hold, and, against the odds, it was completed on time, and on budget. The first time I laid eyes on the finished house, I just kept pacing around and around, in awe that it was ours! We had created something that once was only a dream! That re-enforced for me, that goals, if pursed in earnest, will come true. Three months later, Hurricane Carlotta swept through our little village when we were back in Canada. For days, we did not know if our friends were injured, if our village was destroyed, if our home was gone.
We fared much better than many that summer day, and our home miraculously was completely unscathed, but it taught me that savoring each trip to its maximum is mandatory. I also needed to increase my gratitude for each visit, but more on that in a minute. I also understood that nothing is forever. For me, the lesson of Hurricane Carlotta was enjoy it as much as we can, while we can.
This month, as we arrived to open the house, I heard one of our friends talk of “living the dream” more than once.
We are “living the dream” of having that second home in a paradise location. Living the dream is really another way of saying that goal is now a reality. And while we are renting it out for vacationers, until we can spend the entire winter barefoot, we are positioning ourselves for that reality.
So as the New Year dawns I’ll be setting time aside to write my goals for 2015 and in fact, long term ones stretching into 2020, eyesight I wish I still had. I have some big plans, and even larger dreams that may take a few years, and I find this process immensely satisfying. Its my way of organizing that bottom drawer. Getting focused. Living Large.
Decide what’s next and how you are going to get it.
Of all the advice I’ve read, and heard, and practiced, these are the ones that work for me.
Don’t just “think it’ – “ink it”
People who write down their goals earn nine times as much as people who don’t. Yet 80% of the population does not write down their dreams and has little luck at making them stick. The physical process of writing down your goals suddenly transports them from the airy-fairy world of desire, to something that is on paper and you can read it. Reading it to yourself, is the first step towards achieving it.
Goals must be specific. If you write “I want to be happy” that is not specific enough. You need to be detailed oriented on this. You have to ride it, visualize it, and smell it, to make it your goal. You need to write all the “how you want happiness”, to get the happiness.
If you need specific pictures, then take them, or find them and cut them out. If you need to sketch, sketch. I like to keep those clippings and photos and visual thoughts in one place. Some people do vision boards; others decorate their mirrors so they see them on a daily basis. I’m on my computer a lot so I’m a fan of the vision board app, that allows you to do one, right on your computer.
This is not a time to be timid. Think as big as you dare. Most people make the mistake- not of thinking too big and missing, but thinking too low and succeeding. That’s where I think many resolutions fail. They just are not important enough and people let them slip.
Just remember Kyle and his magic paperclip that got traded over and over again, on the internet until Kyle had a three bedroom home. Reach for the moon, and even if you fail, you will be in the stars and far more ahead for the next go round.
Time is ticking
Your dreams might be large so every day matters.
I found this interesting equation to put some reality into understanding where you are on the journey. So often we say, “I’ll make a goal later or tomorrow, or when I have more time”.
Multiply your age x 365 days this will give you your current age in days.
Subtract that number from 27,375. That’s the number of days the average person has. Then fill that number into this sentence. I probably have _____days left (fill in the blank) That’s a wake up call for most of us!
But remember it is never too late, or too early. Right now is a good time. And forget your age. It is what you do- not when you do it- that counts.
Break it down into chunks
Just like any big term goals, small bite size pieces work best. They can actually get accomplished, and propel you towards the end results. Taking baby steps every day towards the goal, is more likely to succeed. Learning a language, losing weight, writing a book, all take time, patience and determination and can only be achieved in small bite size parcels. Just be sure to celebrate those “chunks” when you achieve them…the milestones in-between. So if your goal is a new job, celebrate each time you get an interview, even if you don’t get the job. The end goal is the finish line, but we still need to celebrate the journey.
There’s quite a bit of research to support the idea that experiencing gratitude can have a positive impact on both your mental/emotional state and your ability to achieve the life you want. Geoffrey James talks about Gratitude as being an emotional “muscle”, one that needs to be used and strengthened. People who approach life with a sense of gratitude are constantly aware of what’s wonderful in their life. They enjoy the fruits of their successes, and therefore, they seek out more success. And when things don’t go as planned, people who are grateful can put failure into perspective. Over time, a real change in the whole trajectory of your life can happen. With gratitude, you will find that your efforts to create the career you want, the retirement you desire, to have a satisfying life, are increasingly successful. You’ll begin to have a practical experience of the positive impact of approaching your life with a focus on gratitude. Which in turn, will give you even more to be grateful about. So it’s a circle appreciating the goals you achieve, and thus creating and achieving, new ones.
2nd right answer
And finally when faced with a significant setback most give up on their dream or goal, instead of realizing the “2nd right answer”. Turn the box on all sides and see if there is a different approach to solving the problem. Sometimes it takes a fresh approach to solve the stumbling block and ultimately create a better solution, but you have to have the will to look.
What you focus on increases. So focus on the 2nd right solution to achieving your goal, not the 1st right answer that didn’t take off.
“Your resources are always greater than you imagine them to be. Never ask, ” Can I do this?” Ask instead ” How can I do this”? Dan Zadra
If you’ve read this far, then you deserve to take the time right now to write down your goals and dreams, and start creating what you want!
Embrace this New Year.
Leigh Morrow is a Vancouver writer who operates Casa Mihale, a vacation rental in the quaint ocean front community of San Agustinillo, Mexico. Her house can be viewed and rented at http://www.gosanagustinillo.com