There is a time for dreaming and a time for doing.
The art is in knowing the difference.
When it’s time for change and setting goals the call comes in different ways. Some calls ask first to be dreamt into existence. Dreaming is part of an active creation process. It’s a fun place because you live in the world of possibilities.
Something marvellous forms itself in your vision. You imagine new twists and turns — a new development in your story. You have a new excitement about life. Anything can happen if you’re open to it.
Wake Up and Get Ready
Other calls come with a to-do list already attached. You go from step one to step fifty and, voila, you’re there. You organize yourself, then learn the path, and refine the skills you need to succeed. Things like math or music or web development are like this.
When you’re young you learn many skills to become a ‘better’ adult. The cool thing about skills is that they can circle back to dreaming again — different skills let you express your vision in unique ways.
The two approaches call for very different mindsets and practices. Your brain will be wired to favour one over the other.
The wise ones learn to cultivate both.
Learn to Dream
One of the best guides I’ve found for creating the practices that will stimulate creativity is Todd Henry of the Accidental Creative. The short version of his ‘rules for a creative life’ are:
- Keep your focus to three creative priorities. Let your ideas marinate.
- Build relationships that spark your creativity and hold you accountable. Don’t think friends – think mentors, friendly competitors, inspiration.
- Manage your energy wisely – leave buffers between events to absorb and be present to what’s happening. Keep burnouts to a minimum.
- Be really choosy about the stimulus you take in from media and social media. Garbage in, garbage out.
- Trust your instincts.
Practice Make Perfect
If it’s the skill of learning skills that you need then don’t look any further than Canada’s singing astronaut, Chris Hadfield.
His memoir, An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth, is a hymn to the joy of preparedness, over-preparedness and obsessive attention to detail. Of course, riding what is basically a large bomb into space will do that. His rules for success are:
- Sweat the small stuff.
- Plan and test. Fix what went wrong. Plan and test that. Do it again and again.
- Figure out what could have gone wrong but didn’t. Make a plan and test that.
- Make a checklist for all the plans that worked, all the plans that didn’t work and all the plans that might not work.
- Practice, practice, practice the all the skills on every checklist.
- Don’t trust your instincts.
All Together Now
Now, for a moment, let’s think about how we could use these two complementary mindsets to the goal of losing weight.
The creative part of the process might look like this:
- Scope out Pinterest to find new and innovative ways to cook spring vegetables.
- Learn to make artisanal bone broth to stimulate your soup making.
- Practice different ways of eating – vegan, paleo, Mediterranean – to see what gives you most energy.
- Find forums of similar people and find out what they’re doing.
- Explore different ways of eating, like mindful eating, to see how your habits affect your weight.
The skill-based part of the process might look like this:
- Sit down on Sunday night and make your meal plans.
- Use an online tracker with reminders as an interactive checklist.
- Plan for the times during the week when your plans will not work.
- Write a checklist for all your plans so you don’t have to make it up on the spot.
- Make a lot of ‘if this happens, then I will do that’rules for your behaviour like ‘if I’m home late from work, then I’ll cook one of the frozen meals I made on the weekend’.
How could you apply these two approaches to something you want in life?