Archives For 2014

Dream Big

January 21, 2014 — 4 Comments

I love that this holiday celebrates Dr. King’s role in the transformation of our society. I know I’m not alone in being stirred every time I hear his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. In honor of Dr. King and his legacy, I’d like to share one of my favorite quotes. I would imagine he was familiar with these words and that they would have spurred him on when the dominant attitude was flinty and the prospect of change seemed bleak:

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Harriet Tubman, bronze sculpture by Jane DeDecker, Little Rock, Arkansas

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” 

~ Harriet Tubman, escaped slave, Civil War soldier and abolitionist, 1820-1913

But it’s hard to reach for stars.

  • People will probably call you a dreamer (which would be true), but they’ll use the term pejoratively.
  • You won’t be unanimously supported, because folks often don’t appreciate those who break with the norm and defy the status quo.
  • You might have to forego comfort and security.
  • You will have to risk, and that can be scary.

But our world needs changing — in more ways than I could even list here. In 2014, why not upset your routine, think outside the box, dare to be misunderstood — to reach for that star with your name on it?

I had a friend who really wanted to be an actor. Professionally. He sort of tap danced all around the profession his whole life without ever diving into it head first. He’s not with us anymore, so there’ll be no reaching for any star with his name on it, and I (as well as the rest of the world) will never know what memorable dramatic roles he might have brought to life.

I have another friend who is amazing with horses. She has a sense that she’d really be good at helping special needs kids with equestrian therapy, but has decided to delay this pursuit until retirement. Yet the tears that well up in her eyes when she talks about doing this make me wish she’d reach for that star now — in 2014. Some very important young people really need her, and she might just need them too.

Why do you suppose it is that we ditch our dreams? Maybe we just don’t recognize that we, according to Ms. Tubman (and she would know), do have strength, patience and passion at the ready. I am pretty confident most of us exercise only a fraction of our potential strength; our patience, though meager, is something that can be cultivated and grown, especially while reaching for our dream, with its promise of bringing positive change in the world ever before us. And I submit, unless we’re engaging our passion — that which resonates deep in our hearts — we’re not fully alive.

Some say a dream has been deposited in the heart of every individual, and that each person’s dream contains the blueprint for how to live his or her life. If you survey people, these dreams are quite varied, strewn across a wide spectrum of interests and pursuits. Many are creative in an outright sense – like dance or architecture, but whenever a person is following his or her passion, creativity will necessarily be involved, even in fields in which that might seem less likely.

I believe a world in which everyone is following his or her dream would be amazing — I can only imagine.

What’s the one thing that would cause you to wake up in the morning with the thought, “I can’t believe I get to _________ today!”

  • For those who are already reaching for you star, keep on keeping on. Inspire us.
  • If you know it, but haven’t yet taken action, I urge you — pursue the dream.
  • If you can’t yet identify the dream, please explore.

Because the world needs you. It needs me. It needs us — every one. Dreaming. Being strong. Exercising patience. Engaging our passion.

Reaching for the stars and changing our world in 2014.

 

Making My New Year’s List

December 29, 2013 — 2 Comments

res·o·lu·tion  (ˌre-zə-ˈlü-shən) n.

  1. The state or quality of being resolute; firm determination.
  2. A resolving to do something.
  3. A course of action determined or decided on.

Is it just me, or does the word “resolution” sound a little daunting? Let alone the notion of actually stating one, holding to it, and making life changes or impacting some tiny part of the universe.

When I look at those definitions, though, “resolution” really isn’t such a bad word, but I still tend to avoid it, probably because of the connotations (my baggage) associated with it. In hopes that I’ll engage better with the actual process, I think of it instead as identifying items I want to focus on during the new year — “goals” just seem more do-able.

2014

In recent years it usually goes like so: I sit down on or very near the first of January, reflect on what’s working well in my life and what isn’t, then select three or four of those items I’d like to change and move them to the front burner. I suppose that using the beginning of the calendar year as a prompt for this activity is a somewhat artificial structure, since nothing is actually “new” at the beginning of January: you can count on the weather’s to continue stay cold for weeks and weeks (at least here in the Midwest), we’re only half way through the academic year, and it’s well past my birthday. But despite all that, January 1st still seems to work for me. It must have something to do with the year’s brand new number — 2014, this time around!

Pretty much every time I sit down to the process, there is at least one item (more likely two) that I just didn’t nail during the previous year. I’d have gotten maybe several months into the new year only to discover that my resolve had plum disappeared. Upon examination, I realized that more often than not the particular item was actually more of a wish. I couldn’t really say that I had applied much resolve to the matter at all. I wasn’t ready to put in the effort required to rearrange and reprioritize the components of my life in order to make the thing to happen. I might have had a strong emotional attachment to the way things have always been (there’s always a pay-off of some kind, even in the habits we profess to dislike). Whatever the problem, I figure it’s A-okay to get back on that horse and ride it toward the end of the upcoming year. That is, if it’s still something I’d actually like to accomplish. I figure it’s also okay to decide to ditch a plan when I realize I don’t want to do it, after all.

Recently I got to work for a few months with a life coach who offered me something new to incorporate into my goal setting process. At first glance, the new goal sheet I received from him didn’t seem all that different. But as I got down to really working through it, I realized it contained a new, simple component that could just be the ticket to helping me beyond the barrier with some of my previously resistant goals.

The goal sheet began as expected: 1) identify the goal, 2) identify the reward for achieving it, and 3) identify the consequences for not achieving it. As I read through these steps I was thinking, “Yeah, yeah, been there, done that.” But the next step would prove to be invaluable: 4) identify the obstacle to this goal.

[You might be thinking at this point, “Well, duh, Linda!” However, I assure you, this little trick was completely missing in all my earlier goal setting attempts. I could now see why my goals — primarily those stickier ones that hadn’t been accomplished — were doomed to remain fanciful notions rather than achievements.]

This new step made perfect sense. But I was surprised to see that there wasn’t just one box — there were multiple “obstacle boxes”. They filled the remainder of the page, and spilled onto the reverse side of the goal sheet! Apparently, I could encounter up to seven obstacles while attempting to achieve any given goal.

But this is where it the sheet got even better — after identifying the obstacle(s), the sheet asked for a possible solution(s) to the obstacle(s). And then wanted me to list an action step I would take to apply this solution to the obstacle. Whoa! Now that’s breaking it down into bite-sized components a person could actually manage! I began to see how I could achieve even my more daunting goals. And get this: after identifying each action step, the sheet asks for a date by which you will do it, then directs you to put the action step on your calendar or in your planner. Pretty clever, getting me on the hook like that.

The final steps: list today’s date, the target date for achieving the goal, and finally some affirmations regarding this objective — perhaps about how you’ve been able to accomplish similar feats in the past, or how you know you have the resources to realistically do it.

I’m happy to report that there are now some goal sheets in a paper clip in the back pocket of that binder that I’ve actually accomplished using this strategy — a personal trophy case. There are other sheets that I can’t yet move to the clip because haven’t yet nailed these goals. (But am fairly satisfied to have significant progress on them.) I figure being on the way toward something desirable is better than still being at the starting gate, so I don’t beat myself up, I just re-up. My coach informed me that some obstacles are such big barriers to success on a particular goal they warrant making a new goal sheet just for them. Which might have been the Achilles heel on those goals I didn’t nail. You can bet I’ll be looking into this when I sit down in a couple of days and review my 2013 results.

So if you are the new year’s (non-resolution) goal setter type, like me, here’s wishing you (and me!) much success in achieving your goals for 2014!

P.S. And don’t forget that whole middle step — it’s a winner!