Living the Dream

We’ve been having regular monthly meetings and personal development sessions at the office. Like so many of us working in the Mighty Community, I usually work from home. So this monthly session is a good opportunity to connect with all my co-workers from all over the province. It helps me to stay centred and focused on my job, and to feel more like a part of the team.

At a recent session I had one of those a-ha moments that Oprah always talks about, when suddenly it all clicked together and made sense for me. We’d been doing goal setting and I was getting a little down because my personal dreams and goals seemed to have nothing to do with my job. I started thinking maybe I needed to either leave my job and start over or else give up my goals. The idea of doing either of those things terrified me and made me very sad.

We started the session with a goals refresher from the previous session. We had to think about where we are, where we want to be and whether or not we could do better. Then we had to quickly jot down two goals to have accomplished within one year, five years, and ten years. You can put anything, they don’t have to be related to your job and it was stressed to think big. We had a few minutes to do this exercise, which would be plenty of time if we had completed our homework from the last session and thought about our goals. Here’s what I wrote:

Goals within 1 year: Move out and get a place of my own, Finish my novel and enter it for the Richards Prize

Goals within 5 years: Take a trip to Italy, Have my first novel published

Goals within 10 years: Own a house, Win the Giller Prize

Pretty exciting stuff, eh! Writing those things down and seeing them unfold in my mind’s eye really gets my heart pumping, I gotta say.

We were then told to go on and set definite goals based on this exercise, at least two for each of the time periods and then make sure to read them first thing every morning and last thing every night. Statistics show that just by writing them down we had improved our chances dramatically to achieve them. If we made the extra effort to review them it would improve our chances even more.

Okay, this was nothing new, I’ve heard this stuff a million times if I’ve heard it once. And while I do believe it happens, I haven’t seen much evidence in my own life . . . yet! In the next exercise we wrote down the six things we have to do tomorrow in random order, going back after and numbering them according to their importance. The idea being to get up the next day and hit the number one thing and get it done, then continue down the list. It doesn’t matter if you only got the first two things done, at the end of the day you’d be able to look back and say you’d done the two most important things.

Here’s my list I wrote:

1. Finish BnM and send out the email
2. Write the Z press releases
3. Call the C guy
4. Finish the PR research
5. Finish K’s story
6. Go send money orders and pick up parcel

The first five things on my list have to do with my work and the sixth had to do with my creative writing . . . the kind of writing that I hope to be successful with, winning the awards and so on. All the energy that excited me when I wrote my goals immediately went out the window. I knew I’d be lucky to get through the first thing on my list in one day. Using this method, I’d never get to do the stuff I needed to do in order to reach my goals. I was pretty glum before lunch as I realised this is exactly the sort of thing that has been sabotaging my goal setting since the beginning of time. My goals and the reality of my life don’t mesh. Again, I started thinking maybe I’d have to quit my job if I wanted to do any of the other stuff.

After lunch we watched a DVD of a motivational speaker about dreams (i.e. goals). He told the usual stories about how Jim Carrey wrote himself a post-dated cheque for $10 million when he was flat broke and booed off the stage at one of the comedy clubs. In the memo part he wrote for acting in a movie. By the time the date rolled around to cash the cheque he was actually being paid $20 million for acting in a movie. About how Sally Jesse Raphael quit or was fired from over a hundred jobs, lived in her car and ate crackers with ketchup to survive before realising her dream of becoming an emmy winning talk show host. Some of the stories I had heard before, some were new. He told his own story about how seven years ago he was bankrupt, didn’t own anything, had to borrow a neighbor’s car to take his kids to school and so on.

He wrote his dreams down and now he lives them. He said it’s a strange phenomena but when he decided to live in the pursuit of his dreams, his life completely changed. He started making more money, things started going his way.

What really struck me was that his dreams were not work related, they were fun. He wanted to hike the Grand Canyon and sail the Nile, climb the tallest mountain peaks and travel the world. And now he does all those things and more. I started to wonder if my reality and my dreams might come together if I just had a little faith that they could, that they weren’t too far apart.

He said big dreams have four properties:

1. A big dream has EXTREME power.

People pursuing big dreams have tons of energy, they don’t need to sleep as much as the rest of us. Other people get excited, big dreams draw a crowd. Big dreams can cause huge changes. Take Walt Disney for example. His dream of Disney World completely changed the state of Florida in many ways.

2. Big dreams add life to your life.

When you’re pursuing a big dream you’re energised and excited and doing things you never thought you would to achieve what you want. Before he started to pursue his big dreams, he had never been out of the country. Now, he spends about 60% of his time out of the country.

3. To see it on the outside, you’ve got to live it on the inside.

The power of visualization. He used Walt Disney as an example again. Walt lived Disney World on the inside, he visualised it, and people thought he was nuttier than a fruitcake. But now everyone can see his dream, because it’s on the outside. Later in the evening Stacy and I went to the new Wal-Mart — the work of one woman who lived it on the inside so we could see it on the outside.

4. You won’t be a dream-maker, until you stop the dream-takers.

These are the people who say you can’t do that. They can be friends, co-workers, your family and even yourself. Self-talk is the most important. You won’t be able to make your dreams come true until you eliminate any negative self-talk. And you might not even realise you’re doing it. Like when you say you don’t want to get your hopes up, that’s negative self-talk. If you don’t hope and believe in it, who will? He said to identify your limiting words and get rid of them.

He told us to make a list of our dreams, a big list, with big dreams. If time nor money were an object, what would you do next week? He said making a big list was important, because you need to back up a dream with another dream. When you accomplish one of your dreams the adrenaline rush ends and you crash down. You need to start in on another one right away. Always be pursuing a dream.

After watching this speaker my heart was pumping again about my dreams. Everything came together and made sense. I think I may have found the missing piece to my personal puzzle that I needed to make things happen. We shall see and soon. I’ve got my first list of really big dreams and they are BIG! I’ll keep you posted.

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