Where Are You Going?

By Michael Riggs, M.Ed.

We all know it. We’ve all looked away. We’ve all had months and years come and go and wonder why our situation doesn’t seem to dramatically improve .

rural train tracksWhether you are looking at the professional, personal, athletic, academic, or spiritual aspects of your life, it is imperative that you have a clear picture — preferably written down — of the things you want to become or acquire. I have calculated, in a very unscientific way, that the time spent agonizing over one’s current mediocre state-of-life-affairs exceeds the time it would take to sit down and capture n paper a “dream life” by a ratio of 3,650 to 1 — in just one year. That is a lot of wasted time and energy that could be spent, instead, celebrating amazing accomplishments and incredible successes.

Why is it, then, that most people refuse to clarify their dreams (dreams are more passion-filled than “goals” by the way) and make a simple list of the things that they see themselves becoming? I believe it boils down to two things: fear and laziness.

Fear loves to manipulate and control. Fear, when cloaked as “fear of failure”, can cause people to sabotage their own efforts. Think of something from your past that you really, really wanted to achieve. Then, think about all of the time, work, patience, sweat, and commitment that you applied to making that dream come true. Now, think about what it felt like when you fell short of accomplishing that dream. It hurt, right? Really hurt? The memory of the emptiness and pain of a dream gone bad can be strong enough to cause people to avoid dreaming again. It is much like touching a hot stove — once burned and you learn to avoid stoves, kitchens, cooking…

The other reason that people avoid writing down their dreams is because it requires effort – mental and emotional effort. This is a type of effort that most people aren’t accustomed to exerting. And, most people are too lazy to try something new and to exert themselves. Even if it only takes a matter of minutes – to clarify their dreams, that is – they find it is easier to do something, anything, familiar and more comfortable.

It is no coincidence that biographies and autobiographies of successful people are littered with references to the need to have dreams and to learn to write them down in order to create a wonderful life. Nor is it a coincidence that those that avoid putting their personal and professional dreams to paper spend their time communally sulking over the lousy hand they have been dealt.

S² Tip

Right now. Yes. At this very moment, stop whatever it is that you are doing – no matter how important you think it is — and write down just one thing that you want to accomplish in each key theatre of your life (relationships, finances, spirituality, health, and recreation) by this date next year: Then, put this list in a place that you see on a daily basis. Next, see what begins to happen!

In Another’s Words…

“You can’t get what you want, ‘til you know what you want.”

— Joe Jackson, musician

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