The Magic If – Do You Know What Your Future Looks Like?

When I speak about goals to students and families, one of the things I do is help people create a 5-Year Vision – a very specific picture of what they want their lives to look like and who they want to be five years down the road. It’s something I learned about from Brian Tracy.

What I’ve found is that many people say they have no idea what it is they want to be doing, or who they want to be in five years. But when I ask a very simple question, almost 100% of the time their “not knowing” melts away and a clear answer begins to manifest.

So what’s the question?

What if? What if you did know? Who would you be? What would your life look like?

This question comes from the famed director and teacher, Constantine Stanislavski, one of the greatest contributors to modern theater and film acting.

Stanislavski had a theory called the “magic if,” and he instructed his actors to ask questions like: “what if I were this character? What if this were my role? How would I act? How would I react? How would I feel? If this were my life, what would I do? Who would I be?

You might be wondering what this has to do with your life. An actor playing a role and a real person are totally different – right? Not as much as you might think.

When you’re an actor, you audition for a role and you either get offered the role or you don’t. If you’re offered the role, it’s your choice whether or not you accept it. It’s completely up to you.

Life is the same way. Whether you know it or not, we’re all actors. At least to the degree that we ALL accept the role being offered to us or we don’t.

As an example, let’s say you’re a sales associate. What’s being put upon you is the role of sales associate. That’s what’s you think you should be doing, that’s what you’re being told you should be doing. And so you go into work every day, and you love it. You love working with your boss, you enjoy being a sales associate – helping people find what they need, merchandising the store, etc. It’s a good company and you’re satisfied – great!

You’re accepting that role, and you’re happy about it. It’s the role you want.

Now let’s alter the situation. You’re still a sales associate, but now you hate it. You despise it. You can’t stand your boss, you loath your calling in life – or more specifically what you think your calling in life is. And even though you hate coming into work every day, you still do.

You’re accepting that role of sales associate. It’s your choice whether or not you change it. Just like the actor, you decide.

In order to make a change, or more specifically a change that’s going to give you a more fulfilling life, you’ll need to discover, clarify and set a new goal. Then you can make a plan to help you move toward accomplishment of that goal. For more details on what I call smart goal setting, click on the links at the end of the article.

One Final Note
Sometimes when you’re thinking about change, fear rears its ugly head. You may start thinking things like, “this looks too hard. I’m scared. What if I fail?” There will be a temptation to not try at all, to remain in the same exact spot that you’re in. But remember, failure is sometimes part of the process. It’s what we do with what appears to be failure that defines our future.

It took Thomas Edison over 10,000 “failures” before he invented a working light bulb. It took Colonel Sanders (Kentucky Fried Chicken) 1,009 “failures” before he received his first yes from a restaurant to sell chicken with his secret recipe.

As Brian Tracy says, “the five years are going to pass anyway.” When you arrive at that future time, will you be happy if you’re in the same place you’re in today? As hard as it may seem to make changes, it’s just as hard – and as painful – to stay where you are.

Don’t let the deceitful feeling of “comfort” with where you are stop you from having a truly fulfilling life. You have the right to accomplish your objectives and goals.

And remember, you are not alone …

Related Links:
A Fresh Look at Goals for Parents, Kids and the Family
A Fresh Look at Goals for Parents, Kids and the Family – Part 2
Goals and Emotions
Life is Like a Cup of Coffee
Smart Goals


Life is like a puzzle…with a lot of pieces

A couple of weeks ago I bought a 1,000 piece puzzle for the family to put together. When I looked at all the pieces, scattered on one of our play tables, I realized it was a lot like life. Let me explain…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there’s no one clear answer for anyone. No matter what you’re struggling with or working on, there’s not one sentence, exercise, vitamin, book or coffee blend that will make everything right. There is no instant answer. Instead, each day is like a piece of a huge puzzle.

If we focus on placing one piece in the correct place, each day builds on the previous one — just like a puzzle. If we try to put a 1,000 piece puzzle together in one day what happens? We fall short, get frustrated and perceive our inability to accomplish the goal as failure. The thing is, unless you’re a puzzle genius, there’s no way you can succeed if you try to do the whole thing in one day. Simply put, your goal is too large.

When I started looking at life this way, it greatly simplified things. Each day, I could either place ONE piece correctly, or fail to place it correctly. Since it’s a 1,000 piece puzzle, some things would clarify after only a couple of weeks — while others would take years to take shape. This simple analogy is a great starting point to look at goals. (Click here for more details on this subject, or search keyword “Goals” in the search box on the right).

What am I really talking about here? Perception.

We either see a situation as hopeful or hopeless. If we believe we can accomplish something, we will. Eventually we will find a way. If we don’t believe, then we won’t. Either way, we’ll be right.

How you perceive your life defines whether you become a shining star, or a burnt out porch light.

I realized that if I shift my perception a few things immediately change:
– I use less energy being positive than I do being negative
– If I’m perceiving a situation as positive, then I’m more likely to think, speak and act positive. This draws positive energy to me like a magnet (just as being negative draws negativity to a person)
– It makes things better for the people around me. My positive attitude helps improve their lives. It puts them in a better mood, and I’m more likely to be helpful instead of a hinderance

Have you taken a look at how you perceive things lately? Here’s a link to an article called The 7-day Mental Diet. It can help you eradicate negative thinking, so you can create a better reality for yourself and your family.

And remember, you are not alone…

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A Fresh Look at Goals: for Parents, Kids & the Family

Back to school doesn’t have to mean back to the same old daily grind.

This is true whether you’re a kid or an adult. Fall is the start of a new season, and with it comes opportunity.

You might be wondering – opportunity for what Daddy Brain? Raking up the leaves?

Nope. It’s an opportunity to take a fresh look at goals ­­– for ourselves, our kids and our family.

Gaining a clear picture of our goals is a huge step in attaining them. If we can “see them,” then we can move toward them. Think about it as if you were driving cross-country in your car. It’s the middle of the night. There are no street lights. No headlights. Not even a dashboard light (hey, this is starting to sound like a Meatloaf song).

Tough, right? How can we reach our destination, let alone see ten feet ahead of us, under these circumstances? I think you’ll agree it’s much easier to see with headlights. Now add a GPS and you’ve got both short term goals (headlights) working in tandem with long-term goals (the GPS), all focused on that final destination.

Very powerful.

It’s the same with goals. We can’t truly begin the journey until we can see where we’re going (which makes clearly defining our goals an important goal in and of itself). Depending on where you are in life, this could take some time.

According to Jack Canfield, “one of the easiest ways to begin clarifying what you truly want is to make a list of 30 things you want to do, 30 things you want to have, and 30 things you want to be before you die.”

Brian Tracy puts it this way:
“Imagine that 5-years from now your whole life has been made perfect in every respect. Every aspect of your life. All your dreams have been fulfilled; every goal has been achieved. What would it look like if 5-years from now your life was ideal in every way?

Where would you be in five years?

Who would you be with?

What would you be doing?

How well would you be doing it?

How much would you be earning?

What kind of home would you live in?

What would be your level of physical fitness?

What would your family be like and your relationships?

How would your children be doing?

If your life were perfect 5-years form now in every respect – what would it look like?”

He goes on to raise more questions before he mentions that the 5-years are going to pass. No matter what. “And if you’re crystal clear about what your life is going to be like in 5-years, your chances of making that a reality go up about 1,000%.”

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll examine what to do with these goals once we’ve defined them. How to take our goals, set a plan of action and attain them? We’ll also take a look at family goals &  how to teach goal setting & accomplishment to our kids.

And remember, you are not alone…

Related links:
A Fresh Look at Goals: for Parents, Kids and the Family, Part 2

For further reading & listening:
The Daddy Brain Book Guide (has many recommendations on the subject of goals)

Zig Ziglar
– See You at The Top (Highly reccomended book)
– Goals (audio CD’s)

Jack Canfield
The Success Principles
(also available on audio CD)

Brian Tracy