By Mark Hyman
This is a time of year where many of us become overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed by what’s still left to accomplish and preparing for family or extra holiday centric obligations. I’m sure many of you, like me, are also thinking about what we want to accomplish next year.
My Handel coach gives me an excellent exercise each year that helps me focus, and get clear on what I want, and it never gets old. Simply put, it’s called dreaming.
Handel Group and I agree you should only take on 3 to 5 areas each year to focus on, but don’t worry when you improve one area, it always improves all the other ones, too. Everything is connected. Choosing to focus can be difficult but it’s crucial.
In 2017, I’m going to focus on my family and strengthening and building those relationships, my finances (as in getting more organized about how I manage them) and my friendships by dedicating more time to nurturing them.
Here is your guide for how to think about and write your dream:
WHAT’S IN A DREAM?
First of all, consider why you are doing this. Having dreams engages you in your life, makes your life more exciting and connects you to yourself and what’s important to you. It infuses your thoughts and actions with a sense of purpose, direction and hope.
Quantitative data now proves it’s good for your health!
- People who identify with a “meaningful direction” exhibit less stress and fewer physiological stress-related ailments, such as heart disease.
- People who identify with a “compass or lighthouse that provides an overarching aim and direction in their day-to-day lives” can live up to 15% longer than their peers.
Knowing what you want is critical to getting what you want.
Living without a dream is akin to driving a car with no map and no destination in mind. How do you know you aren’t going in circles? When you can measure and take pride in the achievement of your dreams, you’ll see forward progress in what might previously have felt like a long, aimless ride.
Authentic Dreams Inspire Authentic Actions
Dreaming forces you to rethink your limitations and act in accordance with what you want, and not what you don’t want. Once you’re clear on what your dream is, you’re also clear on what it isn’t. Having a dream gives you the long-term vision and short-term motivation to make the right judgements and decisions for what you do with your day.
Pursuing a Dream Puts You on a Shortcut to an Improved Quality of Life
As you align your thoughts and behaviors with your dreams, you witness change happen around and within you in real time. You begin to recognize your own ability to design your life, which is a powerful and humbling experience.
So now that you understand why you should dream, here are the 5 steps to doing it:
1. Write It Down.
Think about the 3 to 5 things you want to achieve this coming year. Then write it down. Writing is a powerful way to cause change in your life. If you write your dreams in the way we suggest, reading them will evoke a visceral response and get you emotionally connected and present.
2. Write It in “The Now”
This exercise is about getting you to focus on being the person who could fulfill this dream. Writing it in the present tense will have you feel it right now, making it easier to relate to and draw into your life. Use the present tense, saying “I feel energized,” instead of “I will feel energized.” Write it as if you are already experiencing this dream right now. The active, present tense engages your brain into action mode.
“I am a working artist who gets paid for my writings, paintings, creative design, projects”
“I am at my best shape this year! Slim, active and energetic”
“I design alone time with each of my kids every week, just for hanging out and talking”
3. Make It Real
Your dream has to be believable, sincere and uniquely you. Avoid extremes like “I always” or “I never,” or “all the time” or “perfect” – all of which are unrealistic. Remove any clichés, because they distance you from the feeling of your dream by being “fluffy.” You must endeavor to contemplate and write what you actually mean.
“I feel like a million bucks” vs. “I feel vibrantly healthy and alive”
Then check for extremes and replace them with something truer, like these:
“I have the PERFECT schedule” vs. “I adore making and sticking to my schedule.”
“I NEVER yell “ vs. “Peaceful interactions are the norm in my life.”
4. Take Out the Negatives
Most people begin dreaming from a point of what they don’t want. We can’t help being tethered mentally to the past and the present circumstances! The act of writing down your dreams is a purely creative endeavor, so you must suspend disbelief for a little while so you can design a future based on your ideals, not on “what you expect” or “what you don’t want.”
“I no longer hate looking in the mirror.” vs. “When I walk by the mirror, I think ‘WOW’ and feel full of pride.”
“I stop picking jerks.” vs. “I have met and am in love with my soulmate.”
5. Take Out the Hidden Jabs and Sarcasm
Your real, true, heartfelt dream has no room for jabs at others or yourself. Most people unintentionally weave them in, which end up zapping the power right out of their dreams. Read through your dream, and if you feel your good vibrations dip at a certain line, you may have snuck in sarcasm or a jab.
“My mom and I can finally stop bickering.” vs. “We treasure our time together.”
“I somehow get my finances together and pay down my debt.” vs. “I pay my bills on time and I have extra money leftover!”
That’s it – now you know how to write a great dream! The next step is beating your excuses and taking the right actions. For that you’ll need accountability. It’s ideal to get coaching, but if you can’t afford a coach, get a buddy! It has to be someone who thinks the dream rocks and will hold you to account for what you say you’ll do about it. It’s best if you are each rooting for each other and you are willing to challenge each other.
Designing a life of your dreams is one of THE BEST things you can do for your health.
Please leave a comment telling the WomenOnTheFence.com community what you’re dreaming up for next year.
Wishing you health & happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD.
Ten time NY Times bestseller, Mark Hyman, M.D. is dedicated to transforming healthcare. Tackling the root causes of chronic illness through functional medicine, THRIVE with Dr. Hyman. To learn more, visit DrHyman.com.