How a Stay at a Cottage Can Change Your Life

cottageMy family (all seven of us) spent the last week at a cottage on a lake. We left the cares of the world behind and enjoyed spending every waking moment together – playing catch in the yard, going for hikes, and playing in the water. Oh, and did I mention S’mores every night, too?

I noticed that something magical happened to me after being at the cottage just a little while. My mind put aside the day-to-day stuff I had been thinking about and I began to think bigger-picture ideas.

I was reminded that my family is one of the most important values in my life. And that being outside gives me a greater sense of appreciation for the creation and Creator. I began to dream a bit more, and gained some new hopes for the future – of things I wanted to accomplish in my life and things I wanted to see happen in the lives of my five children.

If you can’t seem to find any time to dream and envision what your future life could be like, or if you try but your “dream machine” seems to be broken, a stay at a cottage may be just what you need!

Of course, you don’t have to limit it to a cottage, and you don’t have to go away for a week. You could go to a hotel, go camping, sailing, hiking or biking. But the point is that there is power in getting away from it all, if even for just a day or half a day. It can re-energize you physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, bring clarity to your thinking, and might even change the course of your life.

Give it a try, and let me know how it goes. And if you have other ideas of how to keep your “dream machine” active, please share them!

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Pillar #10 – Review and Track Your Progress

Welcome back to Life Compass, where I’m sharing my Ten Pillars of Lifestyle Design.  Congratulations on making it to the end!  Here’s what we’ve covered so far in the first nine Pillars:

In this post, we’ll cover the final Pillar, Pillar #10 – Review and Track Your Progress.

A wise person once said, “What is expected must be inspected.”  The point here is that we need to set aside a regular time to inspect or check the progress of our targets or goals.

This is another area where many people fall short in achieving success.  They set out with the best of intentions when they make their goal, but if they don’t visualize their success on a regular basis (Pillar #9) and set aside a time to review and track their progress, they lose sight of the goal and it gets forgotten.

I recommend you set aside at least an hour every week to review and track your progress.  Maybe you choose a time at the beginning of the week or maybe toward the end.

Go over your Master Dream List and add any new ones that come to mind.  Then review your life purpose, values, and Plan of Action.  Are you on track with the goals and deadlines you set?  Have you set aside enough time in your week to accomplish the goals that have the highest priority?  Do you need to adjust your deadlines, or set aside extra time in order to complete them?  Have you achieved any goals that you can celebrate this week?

If you stick with it, the weekly review will become one of your best allies in achieving your dream life, because you’ll have a set time to review your progress, make adjustments, and celebrate successes!

That’s Pillar #10 – Review and Track Your Progress.  I hope these 10 Pillars of Lifestyle Design have been a help to you in designing the life of your dreams.  Now the achievement of those dreams is up to you!

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me!

Pillar #9 – Visualize Your Success

Welcome back to Life Compass, where I’m sharing my Ten Pillars of Lifestyle Design.  Congratulations on making it this far!  Here’s what we’ve covered in the first eight Pillars:

In this post, we’ll cover Pillar #9 – Visualize Your Success.

You already possess one of the most powerful tools that will help you succeed in achieving your dreams and goals.  Master it, and nothing will stand in your way.  Ignore its power, or use it wrongly as many people do, and it will surely keep you from achieving success.  What am I talking about?  Your mind!

One of the biggest reasons people achieve success is that they regularly visualize their success.  In other words, they make time every day to create a picture, or a movie, in their mind’s eye of the things they want to bring into reality – whatever it is they want to do, have, or achieve.

Professional athletes and highly successful people use this technique regularly.  One of the most famous examples is Jim Thorpe, known as one of the greatest athletes of all time.  He was a Native American, All-American, Olympic champion, star NFL running back and Major League Baseball player.

On his way to the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Thorpe and his fellow Olympians sailed aboard the ocean liner Finland. As others trained on a cork track laid on a deck, Thorpe sat nearby in silence. A sportswriter named Francis Albertani asked him, “What are you doing, Jim? Thinking of your Uncle Sitting Bull?”  “No,” Thorpe said, “I’m practicing the broad jump. I’ve just jumped 23 feet eight inches. I think that can win it.”

Thorpe, who preferred visualization to actual workouts, did in fact win the broad jump event in the Olympic decathlon!  He also won three more of the 10 decathlon events en route to the gold medal. He also won four of five pentathlon events to earn a second gold.

How does visualization work?  When you visualize an outcome you want over and over again, you build “cells of recognition” in your memory bank.  This helps you become consciously and acutely aware of everything that can help you achieve the visualized outcome that you desire.

When you continuously focus on an idea or image in your mind, you program every cell in your body and mind to work toward achieving that idea or image.  Once you impress it into the subconscious part of you, it eventually becomes ‘fixed’ and you automatically attract and move towards that which you desire.

The reason athletes do this is because they want to condition their mind in such a way that the body automatically behaves the way they want it to without effort.  They become “unconsciously competent”.

The same is true for you!  If you visualize the success you want over and over again, your body will eventually automatically do whatever it must to make the image a physical reality.

Take the time to review the Goals you’ve set in your Plan of Action.  Write out a vivid, detailed description, or draw a picture, for each one.  Then review that description or picture in your mind at least three times a day.  I’d suggest morning, noon, and bedtime.

For example, if one of your Goals is to have a better relationship with your spouse and children at home, visualize yourself coming home at the end of the work day, and greeting each member of your family with love.  Visualize sitting around the dinner table having a great conversation about each person’s day.  Whatever it is that you want to see happen, see it happen first in your mind.  Make a picture, or movie, in your mind’s eye and review it over and over.  Eventually, it’ll become a reality.

That’s it for Pillar #9 – Visualize Your Success.  Next time we’ll cover Pillar #10 – Review and Track your Progress.

9 Reasons Why You’ll Never Achieve Your Dreams

Dreams in Sand 2Recently, I asked some friends this question:  “Why is it that most people fail to take bold action to achieve their dreams?” Here are the nine answers I received:

  1. “Because people told them they’d never amount to anything.  They believed it and decided to never try.” Maybe it was a parent, teacher, sibling, friend or spouse. This illustrates the power of words.  Despite the old saying re: “Sticks & Stones”, words CAN hurt us!
  2. “It’s got something to do with physics — an object at rest tends to stay at rest.” It takes a massive amount of energy to change. And let’s face it, most of us are very comfortable exactly as we are.
  3. “Discouragement…they give up after seeing the amount of work required to achieve it.” It is “cheaper” to stay the way they are than to pay the price to get where they want to be.
  4. “Distraction – the loss of focus/purpose and the lack of vision.” We get so easily distracted, don’t we?  Yet if we want to achieve success…we need to stay focused on what we know we need to do to achieve it.
  5. “FEAR is a big one, I think – fear of change, fear of failure, etc.  Also, an inability to picture oneself having achieved the goal.” These are two powerful insights.  First, some people are afraid to fail.  Others are afraid to succeed.  In both cases, they’re afraid of what others might think.  And many are afraid to take that first step – not knowing what will happen.  And the point about picturing oneself achieving the goal is huge.  This illustrates the power of visualization, of seeing ourselves, in our mind’s eye, being successful.
  6. “I think the obstacles can seem overwhelming…the focus is placed on the obstacles rather than the smaller steps needed to reach the dream.” This illustrates the importance of small steps…you don’t need to swallow the whole elephant at once, just take him a bite at a time!
  7. “Dreamers dream. Writers write. Doers do.” Let’s face it – some of us (myself included) are perpetual dreamers.  We can dream up a thousand good ideas.  But if we don’t put them on paper and make a plan…they’ll never come true.  Others are great at writing out plans…but they never execute…they never take that first step of action.  “Doers do”.  I like that.  Doers take action.  They too can be led astray if they don’t stay focused on doing actions that impact their goals. But no dream comes true, no written plan becomes a reality, without action.  Robert Ringer put it this way:  “Nothing happens until something moves.”
  8. “We believe the lie that we aren’t good enough, or we are incapable, we fear change, success and the future, and we lack the courage, support and strength to hope to dream in the first place. It is only those who truly respond to the call/desire God has placed in them that ever see their dreams fulfilled – and usually much, much more!!!” Again, this speaks of believing in ourselves, taking action, being confident of our life purpose.
  9. “Many times, courage and faith are the missing ingredients.” This too, speaks of believing in ourselves, and in a power that is greater than ourselves.  I’m reminded of a quote from Dorothea Brande:  “Act boldly and unseen forces will come to your aid.”

What about you, my friend?  Are any of these reasons keeping you from achieving your dreams?

If so, resolve to take bold action today!   If you’ve got goals in your head but not on paper, write them down.  If you’ve never made a plan, take a few minutes to sketch out some steps you could take.  Then take that first step!  Decide to make something happen this week, this month, or this year!  Remember Robert Ringer’s words:  “Nothing happens until something moves.”

Please share your thoughts – and your stories of success.  I’d love to hear them!

Birthday – Annual Life Review

Today is my birthday.  I’m a little bit older, a little more greyer…and hopefully a little more wiser.  A birthday is a great time to spend with the people who matter most to you – your family and friends.  I believe it is also a great day to spend a little time alone to do an annual life review.  If you can’t do it on your actual birthday, plan another time within the week.  Don’t let this opportunity slip away!

There are three basic steps to an annual life review:

  1. Assess your current reality in your key life areas.
  2. Compare where you’re at today to the targets or  benchmarks you previously set.
  3. Celebrate your progress or determine what mid-course corrections, if any, need to be made.

It’s also a great day to look at your Master Dream List to see how you’re doing at achieving those dreams.  Of course, you can also delete any dreams that aren’t so important to you anymore, or add new ones to the list.

For extra credit, ask your family and friends for their opinion on how you’re doing.  Ask them to share a way you’ve blessed or impacted their life in the last year.  And ask them for a suggestion of something you ought to do in the next year – maybe it is something in your life that they think needs attention, or maybe it is a book they think would add value to your life, or some kind of experience.

And take some time to express gratitude for your life.  If you believe in the Creator as I do, then take the time to thank Him for giving you life, and ask for His help to live more on-purpose in the next year.  If not, then find some other way to express your gratitude and your intention.  Try it, and I think you’ll agree with me that there is power in the attitude of gratitude – on your birthday, or any day of the year.

Hey, What’s Your Dream?

The movie Pretty Woman came out in 1990.  And 19 years later, I still remember the opening line. Watch it for yourself:

Hey, “What’s Your Dream?” You know, that one you where you were going to change the world. Or do the work you love.

Are you taking bold action to achieve your dreams? If not, what’s stopping you?