- Someday Lesson: The things we hate most about our lives provide clues to that which most excite us.
As I said on Tuesday, our negative emotions often spur us on towards action. This especially happens when we look clearly at what we hate about our lives and then make the effort to turn everything on its head and look at it from a different viewpoint.
Last week I asked the Lab Rats to bitch, whine, moan and kvetch about their lives for half an hour. This week I asked them to look at each negative thing in their life and turn it around by starting with the words “I want…”
I then asked them to tell me the dream that most thrills them, the thing that makes them feel like they are sitting on top of a rollercoaster about to drop. The dream that fills them with such thrill-a-minute fear they choke up talking about it and get tears in their eyes thinking about.
Here’s what they came up with:
- Barb: following her teenage dream of being a psychologist & moving into Chicago proper.
- Cat: finish something, anything!
- Brett: fully moving into the house they’ve lived in for five years
- Jim: Stop panicking and start trusting himself.
Notice that they didn’t all choose concrete dreams. For example, while it’s possible to measure Brett’s dream (getting a room featured on the Unclutterer.com blog for example), how does Jim measure self-trust? Barb’s dreams have definite steps: a, b & c. The steps in Cat’s dream depend on what she’s working on.
If you look back at the interviews for each Lab Rat, you’ll see that these dreams totally match up with what they most complain about. Barb has felt unfulfilled in her career for a long time, plus five years ago she changed her life in a big way (leaving her marriage) but then stayed where she was neighbourhood-wise (more or less). Cat’s lack of direction relates directly to her belief that she can’t finish anything – why pick a dream if you know that you’re never going to finish anything?
Brett feels like he ignores anything physical and chooses to veg on the couch and that he has no confidence in being an action-man. And Jim also mistrusts himself whenever making any personal life-decisions, undermining any progress with “I could never do that.”
Over the next ten weeks, I’ll be leading the Lab Rats through a series of exercises that will give them the tools to make the changes they want.
The first step in that journey is picking what they want. I did ask Cat to choose something a little more concrete because to learn how to finish things needs a thing to finish. She’d mentioned her messy desk at work and wanting to get it organized. At first she seemed really unthrilled about it, but then she modified her dream and said that she wanted a “self-organizing desk” and then followed it up with a “mmmmm” and I could feel her interest rising.
Jim’s dream is also non-concrete, but we can leave it as is. He’s in a very inward-focused exploratory phase of his life so the goal isn’t to do something externally, but build up strength internally. And internal journeys are rarely concrete.
Despite the differences in their dreams, they all came from the same place: the suckiness of their lives now. They’ve already moved forward because they took the time to explore what they don’t like about their lives right now in the moment. They’ve created a baseline and now they can measure movement based on that line drawn in the sand.
Your turn: if you look at what sucks in your life, how would you turn it around and turn it into a desire starting with “I want…”?
P.S. Cat asked me what about the difference between a dream and a goal. This is how I define it:
A goal is a concrete part of a dream. For example, my dream is to get my novel published. My goal is to secure an agent. I don’t dream about having an agent – it doesn’t excite me but getting published thrills me down to my toes.