Do you ever daydream? Imagine all the wonderful possibilities? Maybe spend part of a weekend afternoon lying on your back, watching the clouds roll by in a crisp blue sky? As you ponder the clouds, do you consider your dreams and the possibility that you could one day make them a “real” part of your life? We are taught, as children, that staring mindlessly out the window during class is not a good habit to develop, for good reason—to learn, you need to pay attention and absorb the lessons presented.
As adults, in our always-on, multi-tasking, get-it-done, work-work-work society, we all too often leave little time to take good care of body, mind, and soul … to have a little fun and maybe even ponder all the wonderful possibilities in daydreams. I frequently fall victim to that mentality and have been known to habitually burn the candle at both ends. But I recognize that it is unhealthy to work all the time, leaving little time for play, relaxation and self-care. I not only recognize the danger of overwork and burn-out, I am proactively striving, each day, to do something about it: Take small daily steps to promote my own health and happiness. That effort includes regular exercise, a diet increasingly focused on fresh fruits and vegetables, meditation, and ‘yes’ daydreaming about my dreams and desires.
I intend to Imagine the Possibilities daily, as part of my effort to promote good health and happiness, and to breathe life into my dreams, resolutions and goals. Where you focus your attention matters. If you dwell constantly on nagging worries, negative self-talk, or the problem du jour (there is always a new daily problem, or irritant), then little time remains for joy, creativity, learning, laughing, lending a hand, and a myriad of other positive activities and thoughts.
Personally, if I face writer’s block, a nagging problem that eludes a quick solution, or minor daily frustrations, I will head outdoors for a long walk and it always makes me feel better. I change the channel to something more pleasant, something that I love to do, and typically I return with fresh energy that enables me to resolve some of my pending issues. Some challenges, of course, take days and months to resolve—like finding a new job (new clients in my case), improving health, finding a mate, finishing a college degree (or finding the wherewith-all to return to school), to name just a few. But when you leave yourself open to the notion that “it is possible to achieve your intended result” including big, life-altering dreams … and if you are patient, persistent and passionate, you are much more apt to succeed. If you constantly let fear get in the way, you set yourself up for failure before you even begin. Don’t fall in to that trap!
When I began my study of what works and what doesn’t work for resolution-making-and-keeping in 2005, I used myself as an informal case-study. My resolution was to work out each day for at least thirty minutes in a variety of ways ranging from walking, biking and weight-training, to swimming and light Yoga. I blogged about my efforts, tracked activity on a calendar (dotted with bright foil stars to mark progress!), and journaled in spiral notebooks for the full year. I discovered, after twelve months, that I had exercised approximately 80 percent of the time. I was very pleased. I wasn’t shooting for a perfect score of 100 percent. I was attempting to exercise regularly because I enjoyed it and I wanted to promote a healthy body and mind. I discovered a simple common sense truth: When you focus on a limited number of goals/resolutions that you enjoy and take simple, small daily steps toward achievement, you reduce fear, frustration, and the sense of being overwhelmed. You won’t reap overnight results because resolution-keeping is a marathon, not a sprint, but you will reap results over time.
I created a simple, common sense system that is based on how I approach my own dreams, resolutions, and daily goals. It consists of five easy-to-understand steps that offer structure and a process to resolution-making-and-keeping:
1. Dare to Dream: Spend some time daydreaming. Consider all the wonderful possibilities. Open your mind to the notion that you can succeed if you educate yourself, build a plan, schedule your daily steps, and follow through. Create a Lifetime Resolution List that consists of all the things that you would love to “do, see, feel, experience, achieve, create, have” in this lifetime, then “go for it” one small step at a time, one day at a time.
2. Decide: Where you focus your attention matters. Make a firm decision to pursue your dream, resolution, and daily goals, schedule the small action steps, then follow through. Taking the initial step of committing to your intention is half the battle. The other half is building the momentum that will enable you to turn your dream into a permanent, habitual, part of your life.
3. Define: Be specific about the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of your dream. I created a simple formula as an illustration: Big Dream + One Sentence Resolution + Small Daily Goals (Daily Resolves) = Success, Achievement & Reward. One of my top Lifetime Resolutions is to exercise regularly: I Resolve to … Exercise at least thirty minutes each day, in an effort to tone and build muscle, promote good health, maintain my ideal weight, and cultivate a good mood and positive outlook, by biking, walking, weight-training, swimming, stretching, and doing light Yoga.
4. Develop A Plan: Do on-going homework about the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of achieving your dream and resolution. Build a plan, timeline, and milestones that consist of small daily steps (daily goals, or “daily resolves”). Schedule those To Do’s’. Track progress in a blog, on a calendar, or in a hard-copy journal and Check-In daily (or weekly at a minimum). Find a buddy, a group, classes, and/or a mentor with whom you can share the journey. Learn from your mistakes, let them go, and move forward. Always celebrate your successes and reward yourself for hard-won victories!
5. Do It Daily: Take one small step at a time, one day at a time, for one year. It is truly amazing how much can be accomplished when you are patient, passionate and persistent. The small victories add up over time and become “big results.” Climb every mountain and tackle every challenge one small step at a time, one day at a time with your ‘daily resolves’!
There’s no reason to wait for January 1, 2011 to make good on your dreams, resolutions and daily goals. Get moving today, have some fun, and enjoy yourself!