Nothing happens unless first we dream. ~ Carl Sandburg
On a recent trip to Colorado, I came across this massive chess board in a public garden in Pagosa Springs. I loved its clean lines, the crisp colors of its form set against a clouded sky, and the implicit invitation to play that it carried. The way it inspired me made me wonder about its creator. Who dreamed of this? Who walked the grounds, sketched the possibilities, drew up the plans? In whose imagination did this thing I see before me begin?
Take a look around at the room you are in right now. Every single item you see that has been created by human hands began as a dream. It was once just a thought in somebody’s head. An idea. A possibility. That’s how all new realities begin…as dreams. That’s why dreaming is essential to the work of creating change. It’s hard to know which path to take, or which plan to follow, if you don’t have a clear picture of where you’re going, or what exactly you’re trying to create.
To really make change happen you have to have both a clear sense of what you’re saying “no” to (see my earlier post for more on this), and a crystal clear vision of what you’re saying “yes” to. A fuzzy dream produces fuzzy results. Everybody wants to “make a difference” in the world, but what are you going to do with that? It’s all mush and sentimentality. Same goes for “I want to find love,” “I want to be ‘financially free,'” or “I want to lose weight.” Those are not yet crystal clear dreams. They are merely desires. Now, desires can point you in the right direction, but they need to be knocked around a bit, tested and stretched, given 3-dimensional clarity and color, until it is no longer merely a vague pull along a general compass heading but has become a crystal clear image of precisely where you want to go. A new Reality; a very specific outcome that you deeply desire and long to create.
Once you have a crystal clear dream, it becomes like a powerful homing beacon for your soul. You know exactly what you’re aiming for, what “new reality” you are fighting for, and it is that crystal clear image that becomes your chief motivator to keep on track and stay the course when the journey gets hard. (And…it will get hard.) This all points to the difference in power between positive motivation and negative motivation. Negative motivation–knowing what you don’t want and focusing on that–is effective in short spurts only. My distaste for the way things are right now can motivate me to take action…but on its own, that kind of negative motivation won’t last long–certainly not long enough to make any lasting change. To get where you want to go, you need to cultivate positive motivation–that is, you have to see, in rich, vibrant, colorful detail, the new reality you’re trying to create, and you have to let that vision be the fuel that drives you to act and keeps you on the path of change. We change most effectively over the long haul by moving toward something we want, rather than away from something we don’t want.
So, how do you take a desire and make it a crystal clear dream? It’s really pretty simple: You “visioneer” it by combining your imagination and your five senses. Begin by imagining that it’s 10 years from now and you have achieved your deep desire. You’ve accomplished your dream. You’re there. Really use your imagination to put yourself in that vision. Flesh out the vision by connecting with each of your senses in this new reality:
- Sight: What do you see around you in this new reality? What does the scene look like? What’s happening? What stands out to you? When you look in a mirror, what do you see in yourself?
- Hearing: What kinds of things are people saying to you in this new reality? What are you saying to yourself? What other sounds are you noticing?
- Touch: What’s the “feel” of this new reality on your skin? As you use your hands to interact the environment of your imagination, what do your tactile sensations tell you about this new reality?
- Taste: If this new reality had a flavor, what would that flavor be? How does that flavor inform your experience of this new reality?
- Smell: What does your new reality smell like? What scents do you notice in this new place?
As you explore each question, write down your responses. When you’re finished, shape those responses into a one-paragraph description of your new reality. Write it in the present tense–“I am…,” “I see myself…,” not “I will be…,” or “Others will be saying…”–and put it on an index card. This card now holds your crystal clear dream. You read it every morning first thing upon awakening; you check in with it at midday; you read it again at night before you go to sleep. You do more than memorize it. You let it get under your skin. You meditate on it throughout the day. You pray about it constantly. You obsess on it so much that you dream about it at night. You connect it to your passion…you let it drive you.
Can you see how designing a plan of action to move toward a crystal clear dream is far more effective than trying to design a plan for moving away from something you don’t want? That’s why it’s so important to push yourself to create a crystal clear dream before you create any action plan. The best way forward usually becomes obvious only after the dream is clear and has had time to settle and resonate in the deep places of your soul.
So…what’s your crystal clear dream? Post your comments below, or on my Facebook page.
NOTE: This post is part of a series on change. Click here for the first entry in this series. And if this has been an encouragement to you, please forward it to your friends, tweet it, or post it on facebook. I’d appreciate it. Thanks! Next week: Faith!