The Hungry Ghost

happiness-wide

DAY 52

21st February, 2014

A few weeks ago a good friend of mine suggested that I should read The Desire Map, by Danielle LaPorte. So I jumped on Amazon.com to check it out and ended up on Danielle’s website listening to a ‘sneak peak’ of her book. The Desire Map is an approach to planning your life using your core desired feelings as a driver to achieve your goals. Of course her work is so much more advanced than my own, but I was amazed to find my own feelings about our goals being driven by the strength of our passion being echoed in her words.

So, I bought the book and the CD to listen to in the car. Just a heads up, Danielle has one ‘hot mamma’ voice! I think I listened to the CD twice before I actually heard her words! Anyway, before doing any goal setting, or working through your core desired feelings, Danielle talks about identifying what you already have in your life. Who are you already? What are you grateful for and why? It’s an interesting thing to consider. Particularly when we invest so much time setting goals, striving to achieve the next big thing, or purchase the next ‘must have’ item on our bucket list. We are often left with a never ending, exhausting ‘to do’ list. We no sooner achieve that raise, or buy that car, and it’s replaced with another goal. I hadn’t considered that I may be approaching my life from the wrong angle. It seemed I was coming from a place of emptiness; a perpetual void that screamed to be fed. A hungry ghost.

The Buddhist’s believe the hungry ghost is not fully capable of living and appreciating what the moment has to offer. They are ever seeking to be fulfilled like an insatiable addict, never realising what they already have.

So today, as I sat in a crowded public hospital waiting room, waiting to see a specialist, I considered what I already have. It seemed as good a time as any, and far more preferable than feeling anxious and sorry for myself.

I pulled out my journal and wrote down the following:

I get to spend my life with a man who is beautiful, gentle and romantic. Every morning he tells me I am his beautiful girl, and how lucky he is to have me in his life and I feel loved and cherished. I have four crazy, determined, creative and talented sons and an equally determined and amazing daughter in law. I love that I am a part of their adult lives and that no matter what, we stick together, we fight for each other and we love each other to bits. I am blessed beyond belief with my grandson. A day singing lullabies and eating mashed banana feels like heaven on a stick and never fails to remind me of all the goodness and beauty in the world as he snuggles into my arms to sleep.

Every day I get to go to work in a sector that supports young people. Some days are heartbreaking, but I work with a vibrant team of people that I absolutely love, who are just as passionate as I am about making a difference in young peoples lives. I am also surrounded by some amazing and beautiful friends who are always there for a dance or a glass of wine…or with chocolate, or a care package…or at the other end of a midnight phone call when I need them.

And what about me?

As a human being?

Well I am lucky enough to have grown up in a part of the world where most of my needs are met. I am smart and creative. Sometimes I am cheeky. I get to ‘play’. A lot. I come with a small truck load of professional and personal skills, all based on the simple fact that I grew up in a country where girls are educated, university is affordable, healthcare is free, and wars have never been fought in my backyard.

The truth is, that in this world, I am one of the fortunate ones.

Which made me laugh at my hungry ghost. Right there in the hospital waiting room. My screaming hungry ghost was wrong it seemed. I wasn’t empty, needing to be filled. I wasn’t lacking. I wasn’t poor. I was rich. It seemed that I am already living a very full and abundant life.

When you start from a place of strength and gratefulness for what already exists, you approach your life and your plans from a very different place. Instead of crying for your empty void to be filled, you look for opportunities to add, to strengthen. You also shift from being a victim in your life, to being a creator of your life. You step up into a position of strength and purpose.

So what do you already have in your life that your hungry ghost prevents you from seeing and being grateful for?

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite – only a sense of existence. Well, anything for variety. I am ready to try this for the next ten thousand years, and exhaust it. How sweet to think of! my extremities well charred, and my intellectual part too, so that there is no danger of worm or rot for a long while. My breath is sweet to me. O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Dancing with my heart

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DAY 39

8th February, 2014

When I dance, it’s as if my body is singing.

I have this inescapable joy pulsing through my veins and an indescribable feeling of freedom. Somehow, with the music coursing around and through me, the people I am with, the thoughts in my head, it all comes together inside my heart and my spirit, and I can’t stop moving. I am vibrant. I am blissful. I am happy.

Our feelings are one of the main driving forces in our lives. When we strive for something with the same overwhelming passion that we feel when we are in love, we will stop at nothing to shift mountains and gain our desire.

It’s a little ironic then that we are told from a very young age, to deny the very feelings that inspire us to be at our best. We are told not to get emotional in our workplaces and our relationships. That decisions are made best without the messiness of feelings. It’s true that when we make decisions about our lives or our work we need some evidence. We need some research. We want some factual information, so we can make the best decision possible.

But here’s the thing: Living our lives without emotion, making decisions without acknowledging and engaging our feelings is a bit like fresh bread without the butter: very dry! We need to trust our emotional intelligence as much as the factual research. Especially when our feelings can be the difference between realising our dreams or not.

I am assuming that most of you, like me, wrote up some goals over New Years. You may have reassessed your achievements in 2013, and then spent the first day of the year writing up a plan for 2014, using any number of tried and trusted planning tools.

I have a very dear friend who spends his entire day, locked away in his flat on the first day of each year, painfully reviewing his achievements and failures in every aspect of his life: money, relationships, health, well-being, family, spirit, career and adventure. Then he spends the next day writing up new goals and strategies for achieving his goals for the new year. In many ways this has worked for him. As far as I know he has maintained this commitment for the past ten years, and over the past decade has achieved some amazing outcomes.

I have also used similar tools to achieve what I want to achieve throughout the year, and in many ways this has worked for me. But I always get to the end of the year feeling a little disappointed at the list of unmet goals. And I am always puzzled by the number of goals and dreams that seem to sit on my list year in, year out, never quite achieved; shoved aside or packed away, for more urgent or pressing work or responsibilities.

Why does this happen?

For example, I have wanted to travel to Ireland since I was fifteen.

For a long time I didn’t quite have the resources to go, but over the past three years I have definitely had the means and the time to travel, so I have placed Ireland at the top of my bucket list. ‘Travel to Ireland for two weeks.” I still haven’t gone.

Hmmmm…

The other issue is the weird, empty feeling that I am left with when I achieve some of my dreams or goals. Odd right? If you really want something, then surely when you achieve it you should be over the moon?

How different to the experience of one of my son’s who bought a jeep. It’s his first car, and he had worked hard and saved for it all year. He had magazine pictures of jeeps up on his bedroom wall and bathroom window. When things were a bit tough at work, he told himself that he was on a mission to get his jeep. But it wasn’t just the jeep. It was the feeling that he imagined having the jeep would give him. It would give him freedom. He wouldn’t have to rely on his girlfriend and his mates to drive him around all the time. He could come and go when and where he pleased. When he imagined buying the jeep, he imagined the feeling of being completely free and independent, and that’s what he wanted more than anything. That thought, that dream, was what he was ‘in love’ with. When he did finally purchase the jeep, the feeling of achievement stayed with him for a long time. He still has a delirious grin on his face when he arrives at our house for a cup of coffee. It’s because he can.

So, that brings me back to our feelings as a driving force behind what we achieve and what we really want to achieve.

Think about the goals on your 2014 Bucket List, or Yearly Life Plan that you are ‘in love’ with.

How do you know that you are ‘in-love’ with it? Think about why you want to achieve it. Why do you want this thing or achievement in your life? How will it make you feel? Will it make you feel the same way you do when you are dancing? Or something that for you evokes a similar state of bliss and joy? Or have you listed ‘lose weight’ as a goal, because you think you should or your mother will stop nagging you? Perhaps you have “buy a house’ on your list because that’s what everyone one does when they become an adult? Or perhaps you are losing weight to feel blissful in your own skin, and just the thought of feeling beautiful and strong in your own body makes you feel free?

Just a thought.

I took a good look at my Bucket List 2014 plan today. All four jam packed pages! Definitely enough here to achieve for the next few years!  Anyway, I started to work though the list of goals, experiences and achievements, placing a feeling next to each one. For each goal I asked myself: Why did I want this? How would having this or experiencing this make me feel in my life? What was I actually trying to feel?

I was surprised when I reached my precious goal about travelling to Ireland. Even though it has been my number one goal for many years, I have always put it aside. Why? Did I not want to go?

Was it not really a passion of mine?

How do I imagine travelling to Ireland will make me feel? Or is this goal sitting on my current Bucket list because it has been on the list for such a long time? It turns out that I wasn’t connected with how travelling to Ireland would make me feel at all! It’s been a goal on my bucket list for so long that I had lost that loving feeling…instead I had zero attachment to it. My choice was to take it off the list or reignite the romance I had. So a few travel documentaries and websites about the emerald Isle later, I looked into the eyes of my long lost love and wrote down ‘Travel to Ireland and do a 10 day tour’.

What about you? What’s on your list? How will each item you have listed make you feel?

Like you are dancing? Like your body is singing? Will it make you feel free?

“Last night I lost the world, and gained the universe.” – C. JoyBell C.

Buckets, jars and other inspirational vessels to love

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Day 34

3rd February 2014,

Over the past month I have noticed many of my friends and family setting up different strategies to achieve their goals, or inspire themselves. There are many ways to inspire and motivate yourself to achieve your dreams, or to realise that you are perhaps already living your dream, you just didn’t know it. Of all of the ideas, I really love the ‘JAR’ idea.  Here are some ideas that my beautiful friends have used that involve a jar and a list of sorts.

It starts with a jar!

The first thing you want to do is find a jar. Now if you are like me – you probably have some beautiful empty jars in your cupboard. But if not, there are all sorts of empty jars to buy at the supermarkets, markets, second hand stores or $2 shops. You want to make sure that it’s relatively big though, so you can fit lots of bits of paper or little cards inside!

When you bring it home, it’s time to decorate it. Yes…there is a craft project, sorry I wasn’t up front about it! You are going to be looking at this jar all year, so make it beautiful and make it reflect your own personality! You can cover it, past jewels on it, use stickers, or print off a picture and place it inside the jar. If you are really adverse to craft project, then by all means, keep your jar plain and un-bedazzled! Next step is naming your precious jar: Happiness Jar, Things I love Jar, Kicking Goals Jar, or whatever the purpose of this jar will be.

Now it’s time to set up the …

1. Gratitude Jar

Every morning before breakfast, and every evening, you are going to write down one thing you are grateful for, and pop it into your jar. So make sure you have a stack of coloured paper, or love heart shapes, or something inviting to write on. Equally important is to have something special to write with. Remember that this is a new habit you are forming. So commit to writing morning and night for the next 30 days. That’s all. Just 30 days. When you get to the end of 30 days empty out your jar and read the 60 things that you are grateful for. Make sure that before you do you create some space for yourself, find a spot that you like to sit, make a drink for yourself, wrap yourself in your favourite blanket, or sit under the stars…celebrate how rich and full your life is. Savour how beautiful and incredible your life is – every single day.

Then pop your pieces of paper back in your jar and recommit to writing down one thing you are grateful for every morning and every evening for the next 30 days. Don’t open your jar in 30 days though. Try to recommit to your task every 30 days until you are up to New Years Eve. Then on New Years Eve, find a magical space in your part of the world, empty your Gratitude Jar, and celebrate your abundant and full life! You will be amazed at how rich and exciting your life has become!

2. Things I Love Jar

This one is similar to the gratitude jar, although it is coming from a slightly different place. Every Friday night or Sunday morning look back on the week and write down all of the things you have loved. It could be playing with your new kitten, learning how to make cheese sauce, going to see your favourite band, holding hands with your love, laughing at your friends hysterical story until you cried, baking cup cakes, eating cupcakes, kissing in the rain, wearing soft multicoloured socks, swinging in the park, lazy barbecue lunches with your friends…the list goes on.

Or, you can write a list at the end of the day, every day, for the whole year.

The idea is that you open your jar on New Years Eve in the same way as the Gratitude Jar, but you are celebrating a year that you loved!

3. Happiness Jar

Another version of the Gratitude Jar and the Things I Love Jars, the Happiness Jar is a little simple. Most people feel really comfortable having this one on their desks at work. It’s pretty straight forward. Whenever something makes you feel happy, write it down and pop it in your jar! You can be a bit more disciplined if you like, and at the end of every day write down one thing that made you feel happy.

Again, if this is a new habit for you, then just commit to writing down your happy moments for 30 days. Read the contents of your jar at the end of the first 30 days to remind yourself why you are doing this. We are very well trained to look for the worst in our lives. This is partly because we are wired to protect ourselves from danger, and also because drama and disaster sells (think 6 o’clock news). Writing down the things that make you feel happy is about reconnecting with the goodness in the world. It’s about finding the joy and beauty that is already happening in your life, you just haven’t noticed it because you haven’t been looking for it. Once you have read the contents of your Happiness Jar after 30 days, pop everything back in your jar and commit for another 30 days. But again, don’t open your jar of happiness. Wait until New Years Eve. Then truly celebrate how happy and extraordinary your life has become.

4. The Bucket List Jar

This one is a little different. It’s focused more on achieving goals. First you are going to write what is commonly referred to as a Bucket List – as in kicking the bucket. Essentially these are all of the things that you want to achieve before you ‘kick the bucket’. This may seem relatively simple, however I would advise you to give yourself a bit of time.

Find yourself a large piece of paper and some textas.

Start listing all of the things that you want to accomplish, experience, have, or give back. Write everything down and number them as you go. Nothing is too small or too big! For example, you might write down ‘Have coffee with Zoe on Friday.’ or ‘Run in a New York marathon.’ Write down everything in your head. Don’t stop yourself.

Try and cover areas of your life from the following: health, travel, relationships, money/finance, learning, fitness, wellbeing, family.

When you have run out of steam, go for a walk or take a break. Leave your list somewhere you can see it and over the next 3 – 5 days add to it. You should find that as your list gets longer you become braver at writing down what you really want.

You want to write at least 100 things down on your list.

Then this is where it is a little different from the previous ‘jar’ ideas. Put up your list on your wall, fridge, wardrobe or bathroom mirror. Next to your list place a pile of post it notes, or cards with a pen or texta.

Over the next 30 days your aim is to do one thing every week on your list. Some items on your list may take a little longer, and you may be able to achieve a few things quite quickly. That’s ok. But aim to do at least one thing EVERY week.

When you achieve your  goal for the week, re-write that goal on your post it note and pop it into your jar. By the end of the month you should have at least 4 goals that you have achieved. Woot Woot!! How awesome does that feel? Now increase that aim to achieving TWO goals off your Bucket List every week. By the end of the second month you will have achieved 12 goals. If achieving two goals is enough to manage in your busy life, then stick with that, but if you think you can achieve a bit more, then increase your aim to achieving THREE goals a week. The idea is still to achieve at least ONE goal – this is your minimum commitment to yourself, with the other one or two goals being a bonus. At the end of the year, on New Years Eve, celebrate the way you have planned, and open up your jar to read all of your achievements for the year. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you are on a mission, one task at a time.**

Most of all have fun with it! You may want to have a few types of jars going. Or one at work and one at home. Just remember to start off one step at a time, and focus on getting through the first 30 days!

When you get to the end of your first 30 days I’d love hear how it went! And I’d definitely love to know how you go on New Years Eve!

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”

Ayn Rand

 **Just remember, in terms of all of the goals that you have written down, there are many ways to ‘have a family’ or ‘become a movie star’ – you may just need to think slightly outside of the box to achieve them.

How to make your dreams work!

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When I was in grade five I decided that I wanted a job. I was about ten years old and definitely way under the legal age to work. Although, on my side was the fact that it was the 1970’s and there were plenty of kids working in their family business. So I was pretty confident I could get a job if I tried really hard.

One day, after school, I noticed that one of the kids from school was working behind the counter in the local milk bar. This was very good news indeed, because this kid was not Greek, and the family that owned the milk bar was. They were hiring Australians! I was super excited, and after buying a massive bag of mixed lollies (about 10 cents worth) I dragged my little sister home to plan and plot. I was going to get a job in the milk bar as well.

The next morning I got up exceptionally early. I dressed up in my best party clothes and told my parents that I had to get to school early. I’m not sure if they wondered what I was dressed up for, but they did let me leave the house at 7.30 in the morning. I headed for the milk bar which sat opposite the main gate of the local state primary school. On the way I practiced what I would say: “Excuse me mister, can I please work for you?” I thought that sounded pretty convincing and so I quickly moved onto imagining getting the job, serving my friends after school, and the best part, getting free lollies of course!

When I got to the shop I walked in full of confidence and then the owner of the shop, a large Greek man, with black eyes and bushy dark eyebrows, came out into the shop and stood behind the counter smiling down at me. If he was shocked to see a little girl in his shop at 7.45am, dressed up in her finest, he didn’t let on.

“What can I get you sveetheart?”

I’m not sure what happened, but I froze. I opened my mouth to ask my well rehearsed question but it wouldn’t come out. I looked down at my patent leather shoes and frilly white socks and then looked up at the rows of lollies staring back at me through the glass cabinet.

“Um…just looking…” I looked intently at the jelly babies and gobstoppers, then moved down the glass case to stare at the chocolate covered cobbers.

After a few minutes the big friendly man shook his head and went out to the back of the shop. Over the next half an hour he came out to check on me. Was I alright? Did I need help to choose? How much money did I have? (I think that was more about being sure that I wasn’t planning a ten year old heist!) Every now and then his wife would come out to smile at me as well, nodding as if to encourage me to buy something or say something. But the longer I was there, the more I struggled to speak, and the more I struggled, the more I gave myself a hard time. Why did I ever think I could do this?  Why would they want to give me a job anyway, I couldn’t speak with them, how was I going to speak to their customers?

Before long everything about myself was wrong in my head and I was giving myself excuses about why this would never work. I was too busy at school anyway. I had to look after my little sister after school. I had red hair and freckles – I was too ugly to get a job. When a group of school kids bounded into the shop just before the school bell rang, I literally ran out the door. I was bitterly disappointed in myself and couldn’t understand what had gone wrong.

Years later of course, I can see clearly what happened.

I had a dream, an excellent goal. I had the opportunity and I was a fairly mature little girl, and pretty smart. But I was also quite shy and afraid to ask for help. I thought that I had to be able to do everything. I didn’t realise that it was ok to get support from other people. That you don’t need to do everything. I also didn’t break it down. I went from a vision of having a job one afternoon to thinking I could get that job the very next day. A bit like thinking you are going to put on hiking boots and climb Mount Everest without ever having done mountaineering before.

Now I’m not insane. I was just a little girl, and couldn’t have possibly known what I was doing to myself. I did my best. But I do see adults repeating this mistake over and over today.

We set a goal that we are extremely passionate about. We write it down and we put it up on our bedroom mirror and think positive thoughts…and nothing happens. Before long we get despondent. This will never happen. Why do I even think I deserve for this to happen. It’s too hard. I can’t, won’t, shouldn’t. I’m tired. I have other things to do that are way more important. I’ll do it tomorrow…next month…next year…

Sound familiar?

So let’s take a step back.

Definitely write down your living goal. And definitely put it somewhere you will look at it every day. Twice a day if you can. Or better yet, put it somewhere, where you can see it all of the time. If you can surround it with photos or pictures of your dream. Thinking of travelling to Europe? Then surround your goal with pictures of London, Tuscany and the Greek Islands!

Now you are going to do three things:

1.  Find two people who will support you. Tell them what your living goal is and ask them to help you. Also ask them to keep you accountable. Give them permission to ask you questions and not to let you get lazy or put your dream off until next year!

2.  Develop an action plan! Write down all of the steps you need to take and the tasks you need to accomplish to reach your goal. So for example, if you are going to Europe you will need to save money for the airline ticket, accommodation, day trips and spending money. Work out exactly how much you need and divide it up between now and the date you want to leave. Is this realistic? You may need to tweak your plans. Perhaps you can adjust your dates? Or change where you stay? Do this with all of your steps and tasks so you are really clear about what you need to accomplish to reach you goal. Put your Action Plan up next to your living goal, so you can see it every day as well.

3. For the next 30 days do one thing on your Action Plan. After 30 days you will have made some great progress and you will be able to see your dream becoming a reality.  Make sure you give yourself incentives every time you complete a task. Make a star chart on your monthly calendar, or every seven days do something small but special with your two support people. For example you could take a drive to the international airport and have a coffee while watching the planes take off, or you could go to a book shop and look at all of the travel books with your friends. Do something that is part of the theme of your goal, and will continue to inspire you to work hard towards achieving your dream.

And when 30 days is up, start another 30 days! Before you realise it you will be ticking off the last task or step on your Action Plan!

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face….You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

Post script: When I was fourteen and nine months old I did eventually get my first job in a local Coles store. I was still a bit shy, so I got a bit of help from my father and my best friend. I worked there for just over a year, and like many of us I learnt so much, and gained a lot of skills and confidence in myself and never looked back.

Achieving ‘once in a life time experiences’ with every day goals

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YAY! It’s time to talk about goals! I know that it probably sounds like hard work but I promise that by the time we’ve finished you will be writing up goals for everything! Every day goals!

Firstly, lets be up front and say that there are many ways of achieving your dreams.

Some of us are just so determined and focused that once we have decided that ‘this’ is what we are going to do, we just do it. Most of us however need a bit of help. It’s not that we don’t want our dreams to be a reality, we just get distracted by jobs and family and the latest episode of Vampire Diaries. So we need a plan, a bit of support and some very clear goals.

Over the past few weeks we have worked through a few key steps leading up to this moment:

  • We took some time to day dream! We established what our dream is and we fully connected to the emotion and passion it brings us.
  • We minimised the panic and self sabotage – before we overwhelmed ourselves and put our dream in the “too hard” basket, we considered undertaking the challenge for 30 days. Just a little 30 day trial…
  • We pledged to be an eagle, and shed our chicken status! We also looked for the amazing and extraordinary eagles around us; the ones who both challenge and support us, and thought how we would support and challenge them back. They need us eagles too!!
  • We mapped out our perfect life! We got a bit brave and thought about some of the things that we really wanted to achieve and experience this year and we….wrote it down!! eeeek!!!

Now we are up to cementing the process with establishing some very clear goals.

There are a few ways to write up a goal. We are all quite different, so some will resonate with you while others wont. Test them out. Give them a bit of a trial or mix them up. If one way doesn’t work for you don’t give up! Check out Google! There are many ways to support your dream.

Today we will look at two goal setting models:

1. SMART Goals

This is how most workplaces and coaching programs will develop goals.

While SMART goals are probably the most formal model, I find that they give you a great base for thinking about goals and achieving them. So lets start here.

S.M.A.R.T stands for:

S – SPECIFIC  What exactly will you accomplish or achieve?

M – MEASURABLE   How will you (and others) know when you have reached your goal?

A – ATTAINABLE  Is attaining your goal realistic with effort and commitment? Do you have the resources to achieve this goal? If not, how will you get them?

R- RELEVANT   Why is this goal important to you. Be very clear about why achieving this goal matters.

T-TIME BOUND   Exactly when will you achieve this goal by?

So just say that one of your dreams is to visit a relative for a special occasion. Or this year you want to extend your business online. Perhaps you need a bit of help with making this happen. Here’s some examples of how you would write this up as some basic SMART Goals:

  • By 30th June, 2014, I will create a Facebook store to sell horse feed and products on line.  I will employ a contractor to develop the site and payment interface.
  • On November 7th 2014, I will travel to UK to visit my grandmother for her 80th birthday. I will do this by saving $100 every week from my salary.

LIVING Goals

The LIVING Goal model is a way of strengthening your basic SMART Goal and also connecting it to your emotional commitment. This is where goal setting becomes heaps of fun, because you are writing down your dreams and visions!

We write up this goal as if it has already happened, or happening right now! As if you have travelled forward in time. So while your goal still has all of the elements of a SMART goal, it also has all of the elements of your dream.

Close your eyes for a moment. Perhaps your goal is to lose 15 kilos. Close your eyes and think about that moment that you step onto the scales and you have achieved you goal. How does it make you feel? What are you saying to yourself? Who’s there with you celebrating with you? In your mind look at your reflection in the mirror. Are you wearing a special outfit? How will you celebrate? Are you losing the weight to feel healthier or for a special occasion? Perhaps you imagine walking into your Zumba class feeling great in your skin? Or perhaps its to attend a wedding or to be able t get back into those awesome pre-baby jeans! Whatever the vision, take a moment to imagine how it feels to have accomplished what you set out to do.

Now you are going to write down your goal in a way that connects with the emotion that your vision. This is also a great way to differentiate between what is really meaningful to you. So for example if you have written down a goal of saving up $5,000 with a clear purpose, such as travel or enrolling in a course, or purchasing a new bed, then you are emotionally invested, and will work hard to make it happen. However if you have set a goal to save $5,000…for the sake of saving $5,000, you may be finding it difficult to get excited here. Sure you may envision looking at your bank statement and seeing $5,000, but if it’s not attached to something that you are emotionally committed to, then you will find that this goal will start to drop down on your priorities list.

Once in a life time experiences have a funny way of turning into multiple life time experiences once you get the hang of this.

My husband, Cristian, had dreamt of traveling to Japan since he was a little boy watching anime on the families black and white television. He grew up on a housing commission estate and as you may imagine, money and resources for his family were hard to come by. While his parents did the very best they could to give their children a good life, this definitely didn’t include overseas holidays, or family holidays at all. By the time Cristian and I started going out, he had resolved in his head that he would never actually visit Japan, and would have to make do with the visions of Japan he saw in games and movies.

I’m sure you can imagine what happened next…

We wrote down his goal as a living goal. It read:

‘It is the 24th March,  2010 and I am about to board the plane to travel to Tokyo for a three week holiday. As I step onto the plane, I am feeling really excited and so proud of myself that I have accomplished this dream.’

(Then we put his goal up on our wardrobe door with a photo of Tokyo in Cherry Blossom season…but we will talk more about ‘actions’ next time!)

We did indeed travel to Tokyo on 24th March, 2010, for three weeks in Cherry Blossom season, and travelled around Japan. As we left Australia to fly out to Tokyo Japan on the 24th March 2010, we took a fantastic photo of Cristian about to board the Jetstar flight from the Gold Coast. His massive smile says it all! This was exactly what he had imagined doing eight months prior when he wrote down his LIVING goal. Since then, we have travelled to Japan three more times, and that initial trip has forever changed the direction of our lives!

So this is it! Your our homework, or ‘dreamwork’ as I like to call it, is to choose one achievement or experience from your Perfect Life map, that you want more than anything to happen this year. Write it up as a  LIVING GOAL. If you feel a bit inspired, write up at least one LIVING GOAL from each area of you Perfect Life map.

Remember to give yourself some space to focus on yourself. Make yourself a cup of tea, put on your favourite CD, light a candle, sit in your favourite char in your house, or go for a walk to the park or your favourite cafe. Make sure you create the space in your life to think.

Most of all have some fun, and don’t be afraid to dream lovelies!

My Perfect Life – Mapping

DAY 16

Thursday 16th January 2014

Today I sat down and wrote up all of my dreams and goals for this year. I use a few different models and ideas these days when I am writing up my plans for the year.

I usually start with creating a ‘map’ of my perfect life. This is a way of getting everything down on paper before I forget. It usually covers a range of aspects of my life. The dreams I have for my relationships and family, my health, fitness and well being, my career, finances, personal development and my big ticket dreams.

I used to just write this up in list form, but a few years ago I got a fantastic little work book called “Goals” from Kikki K, and it has a visual version of this model that I use now.

carol db2

The book is great, but if you can’t get a copy, it’s just as good to use a big sheet of butchers paper, some coloured pencils and textas. I usually settle down with a cup of my favourite tea, some good music, a few yummy smelling candles and brainstorm away! I put a key heading in each of the circles and then write down all of the different things I want to see happening in each area. You can change the key topics around, or add if you like, but if you are a bit of a virgin to this sort of thing, then stick to the basic key themes first until you get the hang of it.

The rules are that there are no rules, and no idea is a bad or wrong idea. This is meant to be your perfect life. So what does your perfect life look like? What kind of things would be happening if each aspect of your life was on fire? Don’t limit yourself. Or think “this will never happen” because if that’s what you’re thinking then I assure you it won’t. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “What could we accomplish if we knew we could not fail?”

So have a bit of fun! Go wild! Write that dream down!

Mapping

Once you have written everything down, pop your Perfect Life Map somewhere that you will see it at least twice a day. You might like to put your map up on a wall, a mirror or wardrobe door. A friend of mine also takes a photo of her map with her mobile phone, so she can ponder over it while she is public transporting everywhere. Another friend puts his map up on his fridge, so every time he goes to the fridge for something, like milk for his cup of tea, he is also checking out his dream life. Give yourself a few days to consider what you have written. Over the next few days you might want to add something, or take something off.

Once you are happy with your map, it’s time to start developing goals. Don’t be too freaked out. They are not as scary as they sound. Tomorrow we’ll look at developing ‘Living Goals’ and the SMART model…and how to make your Perfect Life Map a reality.

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” – Anatole France

30 Day Trials: 30 ideas for change!

Inspire

The other day I blogged about 30 Day Trials and some ideas to introduce change your life!

Here are some ideas, big and small. So for the next 30 days you might like to experiment with one of these trials, or make up your own. Here’s some ideas to get you thinking and more importantly, testing the waters:

Every day for the next 30 days:

  1. Wake up 30 minutes earlier and do something different with your mornings – like make a fresh juice, journal, write a gratitude list, meditate or take a walk.
  2. Write down 3 things you are grateful for every evening. Gala Darling writes “Things I love” every Thursday. It’s amazing what you start to notice about your life when you are consciously seeking out the good stuff!
  3. Eat a piece of fruit every day. Or eat a raw vegetable. Check out Food Matters for more information about adding raw food to your diet.
  4. Take on a 30 day fitness challenge, like planking or crunches. Get your work team on board, or a group of friends.
  5. Make a different person a cup of tea/coffee/milo each day
  6. Write 100 words of your dream novel, or a poem each day.
  7. Learn a new word in a different language, or learn a new symbol (for example Japanese Kanji ) each day
  8. Walk! Try walking around the city block at lunchtime, or 10 minutes take your dog for a walk, or even walk up and down your stairs 5 times. Just start!
  9. Read a page of a book each morning over breakfast
  10. Eat one meal that is 51 % raw. Check out Food Matters for ideas.
  11. Buy a juicer and drink a fresh juice (vegetable or fruit) Or walk to the juice bar and treat your taste buds and cells to a mini health spa in a cup!
  12. Meditate. Attend a class, buy a CD, or check out free instructions on Google or Youtube.
  13. Be brave and give up chocolate
  14. Be even braver and give up processed sugar
  15. Actively speak with someone new every day
  16. Go to bed an hour early, turn off the light and sleep. Make up your bed with fresh sheets, buy a beautiful blanket and new pillows and spend some time creating a bedroom that feels like your sanctuary, or boudoir! You might want to hit the sack earlier!
  17. Sing along to your favourite songs in the shower at the top of your voice – try a new song every day.
  18.  Aim to connect with a member of your family every day. It could be as simple as a text, a phone call, a visit or a meal. If getting this close to your family seems like cliff diving, try it with friends instead.
  19. Take a photo of yourself every day. Take a photo of your outfits, or your hair styles, or you with a different friend, or your shoes. I have a friend who posts a photo of her shoes on the tram every morning. I love seeing what quirky footwear she has pulled out of her wardrobe each day!
  20. Give up drinking alcohol. One of my friends saved her 6 week all expenses paid trip to India when she gave up alcohol – not to mention all of the extra time she seemed to have when she wasn’t recovering from a big night out! (her observation, not mine)
  21. Cook a recipe from your favourite cook book – or find a chef/cook that you love and cook a different meal from their cook book or website each day.
  22. Turn off the news and go news free!
  23. Stop eating fast food! Give fast food a miss for 30 days! If you can give up fast food, perhaps go the next step and give up some of the processed food that has snuck into your diet. (cereal, ready made sauces, pasta etc)
  24. Join a dance class or teach yourself to dance, one step at a time!
  25. Look at your reflection in the mirror every day and tell yourself “I love you! You are imperfect but you are worthy!” Just try it for 30 days and see what a difference it makes. Check out Louise Hay’s little book ‘You Can Do It’ Or her CD of the same name. Awesome stuff!
  26. Pay It Forward! Do something selfless every day. Donate a coin, help lift that pram onto the bus or tram, buy a copy of the Big Issue and leave a tip, help your little sister clean her room, or your mum or dad wash the dishes. Give someone a ride home even if you weren’t headed that way!
  27. Learn a new word every day – check out the dictionary…the English language is pretty amazing. Count how many times you use your new word in a sentence, appropriately, then at the end of 30 days load all of the words you have learnt as many times you have used them into Wordle. Soooo much fun!
  28. Buy a cheap money box and donate your loose change at the end of the day, every day. You can save up for a special dinner, a new pair of shoes, or give the money to a local charity.
  29. Give your partner a ‘Valentine” every day…this could be a kiss, a cuddle, a cuppa, tell them you love them, or that they are beautiful, make a card, leave some hand picked flowers, from your garden or buy something little but cute (spiderman socks), make breakfast in bed…even if its Vegemite toast, write a little love poem, or a love letter, give a foot massage, or a hand massage or load up their favourite movie and watch it together on a ‘school night’. The list is endless!
  30. Here’s the last idea. Write down your dream. And do one small thing every day that brings you closer to making it a reality. So for example. I want to go to Ireland more than anything. I have thought about this amazing trip since I was 15 years old, but I always allowed other things to get in the way. This is the year though. So I have written down my goal and pasted it on my wardrobe door so I see it every day when I wake up, and every night before I go to sleep. Then each day I do something small that is a step towards making my goal a reality. First I cut out some beautiful pictures of Ireland and put them up next to my goal. The next day I looked up airfares. The next day I bought a money-box and opened a savings account with my bank, and I started saving for the airfare. Everyday I do something and my trip to Ireland is in my thoughts every day and will be, initially for the next 30 days.  What’s your dream?

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go!

Leaving the land of the walking dead

boyzombie

I used to work for an organisation that one of my dear friends referred to as the ‘land of the walking dead’. No one looked happy. No one. People wandered the corridors looking lost, in their grey corporate suits, shuffling papers for 8 – 10 hours a day. They sat in their cramped little cubicles, at their grey desks barely speaking to each other, heads down, bum up, endlessly typing up yet another corporate policy. I’m sure you could see their spirits slowly being sucked out through their ears and up into the air conditioning. Even the staff room which was located at the bottom of the building was referred to as ‘the dungeon’.

It was hard to imagine anything better when you were surrounded by this level of living death. I have often wondered, if I hadn’t had some amazing friends on the outside, how would I have escaped? I’m not sure I would have realised what kind of culture I was working in every day if not for them.

Realising that you are born to fly, not endlessly walk the corporate corridors, is the first step. Working out your dream and purpose is the next. Once you realise that you have a dream to manifest, the next steps are all about being brave and vulnerable.

Most people go back to being grey. It’s safe and they may not like it, but it’s predictable and they know this way of life well. No surprises. No putting yourself out there and above all no risk of failure! They may be part of the living dead, but there’s a level of certainty about it – and its true that we need a level of certainty in our lives. But not everything in our life should be certain. If we don’t have uncertainty as well, we wither and fade. Never being vulnerable or failing or making mistakes doesn’t protect us in the end, it makes us empty and will finally kill us, or at least kill our spirit.

For a very few, finding our passion and realising our dream becomes such a driving force in our life that we are willing to risk it all. (A bit similar to how we feel when we fall in love or lust!) We are prepared to do almost anything. We are prepared to put ourselves out there. To become vulnerable. To fall over and pick ourselves up again as many times as we have to. To make mistakes. Lots and lots of mistakes. Nothing will stop us realising our dreams and living a life of purpose!

But what if you are in the ‘certainty’ community and you would really like to escape the walking dead? You just don’t know how and it all seems too big and hard and so overwhelming!

Why not trial it for 30 days?

Here’s the thing: You can change anything. Add anything. Delete anything from your life. Change any behaviour you like in just 30 days. This concept was first thought up by Steve Pavlina, who is an awesome blogger on personal development. His idea was based on the 30 day trial, which most of us would be familiar with when buying software products or anything off the shopping channels. Do steak knives for a 30 day trial sound familiar?

Recent research tells us if you introduce small sustainable changes into your life, they have a much better success rate and are much more likely to stick.

So the process is pretty straight forward.

If you are a little anxious about change you can start with something fairly simple and small. In an earlier blog I spoke about taking on a planking challenge for 30 days and achieving five minutes by the end of the challenge. Another one of my recent 30 day trials was all about adding more raw food to my diet. I really wanted to eat better and after lots of reading up on the benefits of eating fresh raw food, I decided to give it a go.

The trick is that instead of thinking that you will change this for the rest of your life, which seems paramount to climbing Mount Everest, you just think, I’m just doing this for 30 days. If you don’t like it you can stop after 30 days, or you can add another 30 days.

So for me, I decided to make it even simpler. Every day, for the next 30 days, I would make one of my meals 51% raw. You may want to add a juice, walk in the mornings for 20 minutes, mediate, write a gratitude list every morning,  stop drinking coffee, write a hundred words, learn a new word in another language, write a love letter to your partner every day, drink water, do a headstand, stop smoking, make your lunch for work, go to the gym, read a chapter of a book, hula hoop for 10 minutes every afternoon, read the newspaper, get up half an hour earlier every day, cook a new dish…the list goes on.

I’m up to eating two meals a day that are 51% raw, and I add a fresh vegetable juice every two days. Every time I add something, I tell myself, “It’s just for 30 days”, but I find that the 30 days is usually just long enough for the new behaviour to become routine.

Practice with something small. You may like to do a few trials. Remember you can add as well as delete. Add something positive to your life! Don’t just stop something. Test the water!

Over the past year I have changed quite a few things in my life with a 30 day trial. Every now and then I get to the end of the trial and think, well that was a great experience, but I don’t want to keep going with this.

As Matt Cutts said in his TED Talk: “Thirty days will pass whether you like it or not, so why don’t you try something new. Think of something you have always wanted to do and give it a shot!”