If you read my article, What is Your Purpose?, you now have your core values clearly defined. Today I want to talk about moving from those values to a plan of action you may commit to.
Let’s begin with a story:
There were two children playing. The boy said “I’m the lawyer. You call me to help with a work related accident.” The girl replied, “I don’t want to call a lawyer. I want to be a lawyer.”
They looked at each other for a moment then the boy said, “Okay, let’s be civil rights lawyers. We can argue in front of the Supreme Court together.”
This scenario has changed over the course of my lifetime. Because of women who held a dream in their hearts of doing what people said a women could not do the dreams of children today are less restricted by gender. Things may not be equal yet but there is definite progress being made.
Regardless of your gender your dreams matter. Not only because they make you feel good, but also because they set the foundation for your life. Dreams set the foundation for transformation! When we let our minds wander we may dream of solving huge technology problems, developing systems to solve world hunger or leading the delegation that finally brings peace agreements where there has been constant strife. These are the dreams of leaders.
Yet, most of us forget to dream, spending long hours in our daily grind, then collapsing at the end of the day only to begin it all again, tomorrow.
Why dreams, you ask. Why not plans or strategies. Because, before you can effectively strategize you need the passion to push through adversity. This passion is born of dreams. If the Wright Brothers had not dreamed of flying they would not have fought through set-backs and failures to develop their fixed wing flying machine. If Henry Ford had not dreamed of everyday people driving cars the assembly line would not have revolutionized manufacturing. If Madame Curie had not dreamed of doing more than marry and have children she would not have pioneered work on radioactivity, winning the Nobel Prize with her husband.
Dreams are where ideas begin. Dreams are often where solutions are found. Dreams are where we process the inputs of the day and develop new strategies for tomorrow. Day-dreams may be consciously driven or they may come as you find yourself distracted by something just outside the window. The best dreams come as you allow yourself to relax and let the other side of your brain take over for awhile.
Your dreams can be converted into positive energy for transformation!
Let’s try a few techniques to allow dreams to expand your vision.
The Mini Vacation
This is a dream to allow you to relax.
- Close your office door or find some other place to sit for five minutes where you will not be disturbed. You may close your eyes or, if you have a poster or photograph of a favorite relaxation spot look at that.
- Inhale deeply through your nose, hold it for a count of three then exhale slowly through your mouth. Gently, like you are quietly saying, “whew”. Let your shoulders relax as you exhale.
- As you continue to breathe deeply, see yourself in that favorite spot of relaxation. “I see myself walking away from the car into the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. As I move away from the car the sounds of the highway fade away and all I can hear are birds high above me. The sun is filtered through the trees and the air smells clean.” Your place may be near the ocean, on a ski slope, in your favorite library. The place only matters to you so pick a place you really love to relax.
- Continue breathing deeply while you take in the sights and smells of this place. After about five minutes let your mind gradually return to the present.\
This exercise allows you to return to work, refreshed. With a clear mind you may have the idea you could not put your finger on before you took your break. In stressful situations it can help you rein in and allow you to regroup to handle a situation calmly.
Set It Aside
The second process involves preparing your mind for rest. This involves both a before sleep process and a planned action for when your thoughts wake you too early. For this you will need a pad and pen.
- Before going to bed review your calendar and set out clothes that are appropriate for the appointments of the next day. Next jot down the things you want to remember to do in the morning. Now set-aside these thoughts. You have taken care of them for now.
- Lay the notebook and pen on your nightstand. During the initial set-aside let all thoughts drift away as you remind yourself “I don’t have to remember, I wrote it down.”
- If something crosses your mind and wakes you up in the night, write it down and go back to sleep. This is the second set-aside. Things that disturb your sleep are listed for later attention, at a more opportune time.
Your mind will relax better knowing that you have a list of things to address and you will rest better with less need to hash through the coming day.
This approach uses the set-aside to partition your thoughts.
- As before you will jot down things to remember on the following day. The difference is you will choose one issue to resolve while you sleep.
- As you go to sleep do not concentrate on the selected topic. Instead just say, tonight I want to find an answer to XXX.
- When you awake in the morning you may be surprised that you have a strong idea ready to implement.
From Dream to Plan
A somewhat more deliberate approach involves identifying those aspects of your work that you enjoy the most and how you would like to incorporate those things more in your life. Jot down the elements of your job or business. Group them by these categories:
- What I value
- What I get paid for
- What I’m good at
- How I need to give back
Now you need to align the work aspects with your core values identified in What is Your Purpose? You will find the strongest dreams and the best focus where there are overlaps in your groupings. Once you have your strengths and your core values aligned you will be able to decide where you would like your dreams to take you.
Whether you are planning your next entrepreneurial success, a sabbatical or your retirement destination, clarifying your true dream-ending will help you get there.
Need help identifying your purpose and moving forward from this point? Consider working with a coach. We never hesitate to get a guide when we are traveling in foreign lands. Why not have a guide to help you learn to navigate new terrain in your personal path to success?