Knowing what we want out of life used to be so primal. We were hungry so we cried for our mother’s milk. We were cold, we cried for warmth. We were afraid, we cried to be comforted. Where does that simplicity end?
Most of us live a life of relative abundance. We have access to resources and information that were unimaginable only a decade ago. I believe that part of the trouble stems from the very flurry of information being proffered. I’m not talking about an inability to express our needs, that’s a secondary problem. The fundamental problem for many of us is that we don’t know what we want in the first place. We are tremendously unskilled at letting our dreams flow up from our subconscious minds. It’s sad too, because being in touch with our desires is such a basic building block of happiness.
In a moment I’m going to ask you to consider a world of events and circumstances that might seem far-fetched, a world where the impossible happens, and where things are almost too beautiful and too joyous to imagine. I call this the UnfetteredDream.
Conjuring up and enunciating this vision, this image of what you’d love to be doing at this very moment is an exercise in seeing possibilities. Even if you can’t believe in its every detail, articulating your UnfetteredDream is significant in clarifying what you want out of life overall.
Step one (Dream):
Use the timer on your smart phone and take three minutes to write a list of everything you’d love to be doing. None of them have to be “possible”. You want to grow wings and fly, now’s the time to write it down. You want to breathe under water while reciting Persian poetry? Write that. You want to climb Mount Everest, or you’re seventy-five and you want to write a bestseller? Everything goes here, everything is without limits. Dream beyond all reason, beyond all likelihood or probability and make your list.
Step Two (Winnow):
Look over the list you’ve just created and give yourself no more than thirty -seconds to pick just one idea. Don’t over think, simply go for the one that excites you most.
Step Three (Focus):
Take three minutes to write down a first step you can take to bring that dream (however improbable) into the real world, and then do that first step within the three-minute time limit.
For example, if the idea you chose from your UnfetteredDream list was that you wanted to become an Olympic swimmer (in spite of the fact that you happen to be sixty years old and you never learned to swim), you can, as a first step, go on your computer and simply look up swim classes in your neighborhood.
The thing is, the minute you Google swim lessons in say, the Western Suburban Omaha area, you’re already achieving a very real aspect of your UnfetteredDream. Googling swimming lessons is admittedly a far cry from becoming an Olympian, but taking that first step is infinitely greater than having taken no step at all.
You’ll achieve another very real aspect of your UnfetteredDream when you climb into the pool at the YMCA for the first time. You’ll achieve it again when you do your first breaststroke across the width of the pool, (even if you’re still in the shallow end!)
The perceived joy of being an Olympic swimmer, the one that derived from your UnfetteredDream will be no greater than the joy of swimming that one width. That’s how life works. The big dream, the incredible dream about which you feel foolish for even suggesting to yourself, becomes “real” in this microcosmic way.
Here’s a metaphoric question to ponder:
If your UnfetteredDream is the Pacific Ocean, is one teaspoon of water from that same ocean any less real?
The point I’m making is that reflecting on options for your life and acting on them, even if they seem impossible (and probably are impossible if you’re truly dreaming in an unfettered manner,) is actually very helpful.
From your UnfetteredDreams you derive knowledge about what it is you truly desire.