Take the first step!

ifyoustandfornothing

Day 112

One of my favourite quotes from the movie Sucker Punch is this: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything!”

It’s true.

Because to make a stand for anything means that you know who you are in this world, and you know where you want to walk.

It’s not easy to do this. You need to invest in yourself and your heart. You need to take time out to think. About the world. And about who you are in it. You need to read books and articles and to listen to the wise and not so wise. You need to make some decisions. About the world. Especially about the kind of world you want to live in. And you need to make decisions about who you choose to be in this world and what you are going to do about that.

Because the greatest decision you will make will be about being brave enough to follow your heart and live the life you know you should be living.

The first step?

Make a stand. For yourself first.

Choose to fight for yourself.

Take responsibility for yourself.

Promise yourself that you will stop making excuses. Then take one step towards dream.

A few steps in the right direction…

  1. Choose a role model – someone who is living the kind of life that you want to live. Someone who makes a stand for the kind of things that are precious to you as well. Someone you can learn from. She doesn’t have to be someone you know. Read about her. Watch her Youtube clips. Watch her movies. Find out as much as you can about her and her journey to become a game changer.
  2. What makes your heart sing? When do you feel the most happy? When are the times that the day seems to disappear because you have been having so much fun, or you are so absorbed in your world? How can you do more of this? It doesn’t matter what it is.
  3. Start reading. Get interested in the world around you. Find the great speakers and inspirational leaders of our time and check them out. Go and play in your local library and talk to the librarians. They are amazing people! Who do you want to be in this world? What do you want to contribute? Open your eyes and get interested in politics. Yes, I said politics! Start with what’s going on in your own community. Go beyond your diet of the 6 o’clock news and find out what’s going on.
  4. Start small with one step. Promise yourself that you will take one step, no matter what it is or how big or small, every day. Try it for 30 days.

The most important thing is to take ACTION!

Just one step.

Please don’t wait for all of your ducks to line up. And don’t allow the fear of failure stop you from trying. You need to be brave and give it a go.It doesn’t have to be fantastic. It just needs to be one step.

Know who you are in this world. Take a stand. Don’t fall for anything!

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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

gratitude 2

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!

Little_Gothic_Girl_by_krystal_kun

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.

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!”

The world of dreams and nightmares

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Nightmares are funny things. When you are asleep they can make the most mundane things, like cats, incredibly frightening. One minute you are patting a cute kitten, the next you are running down alleyways from a hoard of giant cats with razor sharp claws and diamond edged teeth.

In daylight though, the absolute opposite is true. The really frightening things seep into our lives slowly and before long we have accepted them as every day, mundane aspects of life. This is just how it is. Deep down we still ache to be truly wonderful and live extraordinary lives. A life that leaves a legacy that is talked about years after we have left this planet…well at least by our family members and friends.

Instead though we live these sad little nightmare lives. These safe and responsible existences. We struggle to work out why we are unhappy. Where did this funny emptiness come from?

When I was little, my father asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was sitting on the kitchen bench, kicking my gum boots against the cupboards below, watching him cook breakfast for my little sister and me. I knew straight away. I didn’t hesitate for a second. I wanted to be a dancer, a singer, a writer of books and an artist. My dad laughed and told me that I could be anything I wanted to be, as long as I was prepared to work hard for it. If my dad told me I could be anything, then I knew I could be anything. Anything in the world. At five, I never once doubted that what my father told me wasn’t true. For years I would sing and dance where ever we were. I practiced writing all the time, and I painted and drew for hours (much to the exasperation of my younger sister who wanted to play outside with bats and balls and such). Not once did it occur to me that I may never become any of those things. It was all I thought of. All I day dreamed about. My biggest problem was which one would I become first?

I’m sure that you all have similar stories to mine. And perhaps like me, you had well meaning people around you advise you to grow up. It was time to get a job that paid the bills. Perhaps you thought so too. Like me, there was a moment when you walked away from your dreams towards the quiet predictable nightmare.

But today is the day.

Today is the day we are going to wake up.

Today is the day we are going to reconnect with that feeling you had, when you knew exactly, without a doubt, what you wanted to be in the world. Your actual dream may have changed from when you were five. But that feeling, that obsession, that excitement you had when you imagined what your life would be like when that dream was realised – that’s where we are going to start!

5 Steps towards your dream

1. Lay your head down You need somewhere that you won’t be interrupted and where you can think. This may be on the couch, or lying on the floor, or in a park. Just make sure you are safe, comfortable and you can have at least half an hour to yourself.

2. Breathe Focus on your breathing. Breathe through your nose, into your belly, and breathe out through your mouth. Try and slow your breathing down, so you can relax. If your thoughts are distracted, acknowledge them, and then focus on your breathing again. I find it helps to talk to myself in my head. “Breathe in. Now I am breathing in. Breathe out. Now I am breathing out.” Keep going until you feel relaxed, and you are breathing deeply with and easy rhythm.

3. Step back in time Take yourself back to a time when you were passionate abut becoming something. Something that you lived and breathed, day in, day out. It could be a time when you were five and wanted to be a mountain climber, or when you were sixteen and wanted to be in a boy band. No, I’m not suggesting that you put all your effort in starting up the latest Backstreet Boys! But I want you to remember that excitement. That thirst you had to find out everything there was to know about what it took to climb a mountain, or record an album and then put together a choreography to half of the songs! I want you to remember how you used to day dream about living that life; a life that was full of the things you loved. Remember the excitement you felt. Remember the feeling. Focus on that feeling now. Focus on that passion now. Give yourself permission to reconnect the energy you had back then.

4. Imagine Once you have remembered what it was like to feel utterly passionate about something again, bring yourself back to the the present and focus on your breathing again.This time you are going to imagine the perfect life. Close your eyes again, and allow yourself to daydream. If there was nothing stopping you from what you want to do, and who you want to become, what would you be doing? Who would you be?

Imagine yourself walking into a room.  You are in your favourite place, and you are incredibly happy. You are living the best life you can, doing what you have always wanted to do. Look around you. What do you see? You are with some amazing people. They are your greatest supporters, and you love having these people in your life. Who do you see around you?

You walk over to a huge mirror on the wall, and look at your reflection. Who do you see? Who are you? You can hear people talking around you. What are they saying to you? What are they saying about you? How do you feel inside knowing that you are living the life you have always dreamed about? What are you saying to yourself? What are you telling yourself? Open your eyes and think about your day dream.

You may want to do this exercise a few times until you really connect with the person in your day dream. Sometimes we have been living our quiet nightmare lives for so long, that even when we are all alone in our heads we find it difficult to allow ourselves to dream. The important thing is that there is no failure in your head. Who would you be if you knew you could not fail?

A side note: Now just in case you are thinking the dream is to become a millionaire, lets be clear that these things are not dreams but consequences. Often people will say to me, but if I become a millionaire then I can be the artist/rock climber/film maker/sports commentator, that I have always wanted to be. They think that the money will buy them the freedom to follow their dreams. But it doesn’t work that way. You are giving yourself an impossible task and then abdicating all responsibility. “Well, until I’m a millionaire, I can’t follow my dream.” Do you see how crazy that sounds? It’s also a bit like those who will say, “Well until I have everything lined up perfectly I’m just not going to risk it.” The truth is, it will never line up perfectly. Those little black ducks will never line up in a row! Little black ducks have a way of wandering off…All you are doing is giving yourself insurmountable challenges, because you are afraid to risk going after your dream. The dream is not to become a millionaire. The dream is to become the person you think becoming a millionaire will give you the freedom to become.

5. Live the Dream After day dreaming for a while, you should have an idea of what your dream is. If you don’t, take some time to write down all of the possibilities, even if they sound completely impossible. Remember, there is no failure. It’s your dream, and for the moment that’s all you are doing; dreaming a little.

Next time we will talk about the first steps to living your dream. For now though, if you haven’t watched it, you might like to check out Being Elmo: A Puppeteers Journey

It’s the inspirational story of Kevin Clash, a boy who followed his dream and changed the world with a puppet.

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot

Creating the space to dare to dream

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I don’t have any time. I want to be a writer/cure cancer/start my own business/learn how to dance/climb that mountain/learn how to ski/paint that masterpiece…but I am just too busy. I have sooooo much to do. You don’t understand – I have kids! I don’t have any money. I’m tired from my day job. I’m sick. I’m too sick. I’m alone, I just can’t do that by myself. I’m not smart enough/beautiful enough/rich enough/tough enough…well you understand.

I could go on. I’m sure you have plenty of your own stories you tell yourself to make yourself feel better about why that amazing dream that you have always had tucked away in your head, that you probably barely think abut these days, just can’t happen.

I get it.

Our lives are just too busy. Way too full of other important stuff.

But it’s funny how sometimes we have the energy and focus to move mountains.

I’m guessing most of you have been in love. Or at least been so attracted to someone they are all you can think of.

I remember when I fell in love with Cristian, it was all I could think about. I wanted to be with him all the time, and when I wasn’t with him, I was thinking of the next time we would be together. At the time I was working a full time job, managing two large facilities and a big team of staff. I was recently divorced and had four little boys who need to be fed, watered, cuddled, homework sorted, bathed, put to bed, loved…well you know the deal. Before I met Cristian I seemed to be always exhausted. I was falling into bed at midnight after the tenth load of washing was on the washing line and the school lunches were packed and in the fridge, and then I was dragging myself out of bed to a a mini football team who needed to be pried apart, fed porridge, and danced with in the kitchen (a story for another time) and driven to school. I was sure that I couldn’t fit another activity into my life. Not even an extra cup of tea. Impossible.

Funny word that: impossible.

Within days of meeting Cristian, I was renegotiating my diary to go on a date in the middle of the day. Then a few days later, I miraculously found enough money to pay a baby sitter so I could go on a date at night. It wasn’t long before I was seeing Cristian almost every day. As if by magic I seemed to have an abundance of time and, I was buzzing with energy.

Here’s the thing: If you are really passionate about making that dream happen, nothing can stop you. You will move mountains to make whatever is important to you, happen.

Talk to anyone who has achieved their dream and they rarely talk about it falling it their lap. They talk about working their bum off and refusing to give up when they failed, or fell over. They got back up and tried again. You have to be passionate about your dream to get up again after you have screwed up or made a mistake. Because if you are not, you will give up and go and lie under your doona and dream of it happening ‘someday’. But the truth, my friends is it will never happen if you don’t get yourself up, wipe up the blood and try again. Never.

So why am I telling you this? Over the next few days we are going to find work out what we are passionate about, and how to make this dream real. And we are going to do it with all the intention, and ‘mountain moving’ determination we have when we fall in love or lust.

We are going to create the space to dare to dream.

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” Neil Gaiman, Coraline