I’ve had a bit of a computer problem, and my back-up computer is out of reach because I’m on the road, so I thought I would take us on a different Wishful Thinking Ways journey today. Since we are ahead of my original Wishful Thinking Ways program, which was designed for 12 weeks, I’m taking advantage of this moment to share a bit about my personal Wishful Thinking Works journey. So put your feet up and relax while you read. (If you are just joining us, welcome and click here for the first Wishful Working Ways 2012.)
My personal Wishful Thinking Works journey began about 2003, when I decided my life needed . . . well, I didn’t really know what my life needed, but I knew I wasn’t as happy as I once was or could be. Instead of trying to figure it all out and come-up with an immediate solution, I decided to lay back and see what unfolded, which was a first for me. I’m a doer and was a Type-A personality with a capital “A”. Get it done, move forward, onward – now!
There is nothing wrong with being a “doer”, if “doing” makes your heart sing – but my heart was barely holding a tune at that time. I knew a change was needed.
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breaths away.” (Anonymous)
I made the decision to stop “doing” so much – to stop filling my days with this and that and to take more time to relax and reflect. This was a huge change for me in fact, it terrified me, but my personal and professional lives were overflowing with self-inflicted challenges and real-time commitments that were leaving me out of breath, rather than breathless. I had created a life I really didn’t want and it was beginning to cost my heart, my head and my health dearly.
Over the next two years, I stopped doing all the things I normally did to find out what I really wanted to do. I spent a lot of time alone, doing nothing – I puttered instead of planning. I read and walked without purpose and at a much slower pace. I turned down invitations – super tough for a social butterfly, and began to see solitude as a source of energy rather than a statement of popularity. I also delegated more and more at work.
Once I became comfortable doing less – it took months – I began trying new ways of spending my free time – with fun and interesting results. I went on what I thought was a yoga retreat and discovered yoga nidra, which is still a rewarding part of my life. I spent a weekend at a Benedictine monastery, which I thought was going to be a silent retreat, but by the end I was praying for silence! I didn’t answer my home or cell home unless I felt like it (Remember home phones?). I drove slower; turned the radio off in the car and on at home. I stopped trying to do 100 things at once. I joined a laid back adventure club for women, which led me outdoors and to the fun of feeling 10 again with the added benefit of warm, wonderful and lasting friendships. At night when I laid my head on my pillow, instead of worrying about what needed to be done tomorrow or next week, thanks to Oprah’s influence, I began noting the moments in my life I was grateful for.
My experiments led me through lots of starts and stops, which I learned to accept as part of my personal scientific process. (I once believed I had to finish everything I started – even books I wasn’t crazy about became albatrosses for me.) Thankfully, I learned to trust my instincts more than ever before and stopped regretting not completing things that held no real interest for me. The additional downtime allowed lots of wonderful feelings and thoughts to rise to the surface, and I learned to spend time savoring them.
I must admit that in the beginning the good thoughts were almost always followed by stressful ones: “Who was I to think that I could . . . or had the right to . . . What would happen if I . . . Who would take care of . . . if I didn’t.” But, my growing resolve and belief in myself helped me realize that I was not the center of everyone’s world, and believe it or not, most people and projects could get along without me. That didn’t mean I didn’t have or add value to the process or their lives, but moving myself from center stage to the sidelines and observing rather than feeling I had to direct was a refreshing, eye-opening change for me, and left lots more time for creating the life I really wanted, which in the end, made everyone happier!
“Life is a marathon not a sprint.” (Anonymous)
I learned to accept that change is an ongoing process. It’s inevitable, and that’s okay. I also realize that most of the things I thought needed to be done NOW, really don’t. These realizations along with my Wishful Thinking allowed me to expand and deepen my life in ways far beyond the expectations I had in 2003. My relationships with family and friends are more meaningful and better than ever, and stretch around the world. I’ve traveled to places I once only dreamt about – and some I never knew existed, and I followed the career path of my dreams including serving twice in the United States Peace Corps.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” (Lao-tzu Chinese philosopher, 604 BC – 531 BC)
I know now that Wishful Thinking Works and I know believing that – for many of us – is a huge leap of faith. I get that and thank you for being here, because accepting that Wishful Thinking Works and has a place in our lives is a big step. It can be downright terrifying to accept that we can change, yet alone create the lives we really want. So, today I want to say thanks for being so brave, and to applaud you for being part of Wishful Thinking Ways.
Wherever you are along the path of change, please applaud yourself for being there. Even if you are only thinking about creating the life you really want, give yourself credit for the thoughts you are thinking! I encourage you to keep moving forward. Take as many baby steps as necessary, but don’t stop! Let the process be your guide – keep what resonates and feels “right” and find ways to let go of what doesn’t.
Blend courage with curiosity, experimentation with examination, and find time for quiet reflection.
Your assignment this week is to redo one of the earlier assignments, or complete one you skipped. The choice is up to you; I trust your judgment and know you will pick what is right for you.
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