How to Change Your Life
By Abbie Schiller, CEO & Founder of The Mother Company
You know the story of the guy who just wishes he could win the lottery? He wishes and prays and wishes and prays and nothing happens. Then, one day, during prayer, he hears God whisper, “Buy a ticket!” He’d left out a pretty important part of making his dreams come true. Manifesting our dreams requires time and effort on our part – and it starts with imagining what we want and continues with us making the effort.
After a particularly challenging year, I vowed to take back my life. And I did that in the only way I knew how – to visualize exactly what I wanted and to figure out vaguely how to achieve that. Being clear – and writing it all down – is important, so for me, this all took the form of a mini retreat with my friend. The two of us shared a hotel room at a nearby seaside resort. We left the kids with the husbands, and set out on our first “Vision Quest” in which we spent a full 24-hours planning, thinking, analyzing, and dreaming. Then we went off for the year to manifest our hopes and dreams. After twelve months, it was amazing to look back at the list we’d created and see how much of it had been achieved. My life had started to align with my vision of it. I had taken my life back.
- I felt the need to acknowledge more gratitude and started a gratitude jar in which, I would regularly write down any little thing for which I was grateful. The mere act of recognizing “the little things in life” made me feel lucky and happy. As an added bonus, the year’s worth of gratitude cards were incredible to read on New Year’s.
- I hoped for a home my family could go to on weekends, which seemed impossible given our lack of budget. But after “putting it out there” and staying in friends’ vacation homes or finding affordable places on Airbnb, my father-in-law offered to let us use a vacant – and totally awesome – weekend house he could no longer care for.
- I wanted to have more fun and make new friends and now I have regular nights out singing karaoke or just going for dinners with fantastic people who hadn’t been in my life the prior year.
These things didn’t just magically happen (though the weekend house is quite the miracle). They happened because I manifested them. I thought of them, I wrote that thought or dream down, and I visualized it happening, and then I actively worked towards their results.
A Vision Quest can happen at any time of year. Ideally, it happens when you realize you want to make a change – and commit to making that change. So how can you create your own Vision Quest? Just follow these steps:
Find a place: Give yourself a break from routine. Remove yourself from distraction. Be somewhere you can think and dream. Plan not to think about anything else but you and your goals for the next 4,8, 24 hours (whatever you can manage).
Bring a friend: It helps to have a trusted companion in this process who can hold you accountable to your goals and celebrate with you when you achieve your dreams. Make sure this person wants to do a vision quest with you – and is a good, trusted listener as you’ll be exchange ideas. Be that person for your friend too.
Supplies: You need a timer, a pad of paper (not a computer) and a pen. You might also want a monthly calendar. The mere act of writing your goals puts them in your brain differently than typing them.
First steps: Turn off your ringer. Sit comfortably, set your timer, give yourself permission to dream without judgment. Dedicate one page per exercise below. Here goes:
Spend 30 minutes to write down all the achievements from the past year. Go month by month. Look at your calendar and remember it. Reflect on what you achieved – and what you thought you might be able to achieve but didn’t. Are those things still important to you? If so, make a note to carry them forward. If you’re not as committed to them, accept that you’ve evolved away from that want and leave them behind.
Share you findings over a cup of coffee with your friend. Saying them out loud will make them more real to you. Own your achievements. You did them!
Spend 30 minutes brainstorming on all the things you’d like to have happen for this upcoming year. We organize them into the following “buckets:”
- Bucket List
Your goals for the year can be as vague as “have more fun” to more specific ones like “set aside date night twice a month” – and sometimes, as in that example, one effort can achieve two goals (“have fun on date night!”)
Share your findings with your friend. Listen to theirs. Don’t judge the dreams – they might not all get achieved this year but just having written them down already puts you at a 44% higher chance of having them happen!
Spend 20 minutes brainstorming all the fears you have for the coming year. These are the things that might be holding you back. Fear is a tricky feeling – sometimes it can protect you and sometimes it just gets in the way of taking risk. Writing down your fears will help you realize what is what. It can be daunting to look at that list, but I find it more daunting to hold those thoughts in my head. Get them out!
Then say them out loud to your friend. And breathe. Listen to hers.
Now, spend 20 minutes brainstorming all the resources you have to achieve your goals – both people you know and businesses you should connect with to help you. Include a list of people you’d like to know or things that could help you. Don’t forget to consider social media. It’s a powerful connector! When The Mother Company first started, we were put in touch with the head of Gap Marketing by putting that ask out there on our personal Facebook pages. An old high school friend saw it and offered to make an introduction. The Gap became our first corporate partner and ended up sponsoring our first show! List every idea you have.
This is the time to list your current support team – and the team you might need. Support can come from spouses, family and friends – but also from professionals – including a therapist, nutritionist, life coach, teacher, trainer, whoever exists to help you and be in your corner. It takes a village! (And when you can’t afford that village, there are ways – barter, ask for reduced rates, work with people in network, find ways to get the support you need.)
Share the list with your friend. Listen as she reads hers. You might spend a few minutes brainstorming together.
Go for a power walk for 45 minutes. Break a little sweat. Breathe! Hydrate! This is crucial. You’re essentially giving birth to a new you – it’s tough work! Have a healthy snack like some fruit and nuts – all good for brain work.
Refocus by spending 15 minutes brainstorming a possible motto for the year. What do you want your phrase – the one simple phrase – to be that summarizes the change you want to make. Make sure to frame it in the positive. So instead of “no more gossiping” you might change it to “have empathy.” Or instead of “stop complaining” consider “an attitude of gratitude.” The motto might be as simple as “breathe” or “smile” because those things, when done daily, can also change everything. Just make sure it is something you can apply to your challenges ahead. You might not want to fully decide on the final motto until you’re totally done and have committed to all your goals. Essentially, you just want to summarize your intention.
Spend 20 minutes starting to map out your goals monthly, weekly, and daily. This is a time to really think about what it will take to achieve your goals and make them a reality. The “buy a ticket” moment. So for instance, if your goal is to lose ten pounds by summer, then you’re going to need to map out (and schedule) when to exercise, plan your meals, get weighed, and how much water you’ll need to drink. This is time to visualize and plan the details into achieving those goals – do you still want them? Ten pounds won’t happen by itself. Do you need a support team to help? List it. But what if your goals are less concrete?
One year I wanted to “have more fun” and so I started to map out how on a weekly basis. It included everything from a weekend away with the husband to a morning off from work/kids to karaoke with old friends. Weekly. Plus one killer family vacation.
Spend 20 minutes mapping the goals onto a calendar. It’s one thing to say you want a year of more fun, it’s another thing to actually schedule it. And THIS is where we cross over from dreaming to doing. We bought a spiral yearly calendar broken down into months and weeks because putting it into a digital calendar didn’t feel good enough for me. So now I carry my actual calendar and list out my goals daily, monthly, and can check back to see – actually see – all my accomplishments! Feels so good.
You’re in the homestretch!
Spend 30 minutes to write yourself two letters. Twelve months is a long time and we forget where we were a year ago. So here is where you want to remind yourself. Write yourself one letter that you’ll get in six months – a kinda check in. Where you hope to be then. This is a great reminder of your intent for the year. And a nice way for you to check in with yourself. (If needed, you can have a mini-mid-year Vision Quest, of course). Send it at the end of six month. The second letter is what you’ll get in twelve months. I do the vision quest on January 1st so I’ll get my letter next December after Christmas and before New Years. This is the letter that explains where you are today. This letter will remind you of all the things that are going on for you right now – with yourself, your family, friends, work, home, wishes, challenges, and dreams.
Give both addressed and sealed letters to your friend to mail, making sure to write the dates of when to mail them – and make sure she gives you hers. Put the dates in your calendar to mail and write down where you put the letters so you don’t lose them.
Optional (but recommended) – make a vision board with important words and images that will remind you of your goals and intent for the year. Confession – I find it nearly impossible to break down my image board from the year before and create a new one. But I’m forcing myself to…at least update it. I keep it behind my desk and I love looking at the images and little design-worthy bits of inspiration. Among other things, my vision board has a picture of Oprah (because I have to meet her!), an image of an Emmy (because I want to win one!), and pictures of me with my kids and husband – because I want more one-on-one time with each of them. Part of my goal was to have more fun so I booked Harlem Globetrotter tickets with the kids (a two-for-one item since it achieves “more fun” for me and “special time with the kids” with one event).
And that’s it. That’s a Vision Quest! Keep the documentation from the brainstorm nearby. Or better yet, write your goals into your calendar. And keep them in mind. Here’s to changing your life.
Let us know how it goes!
The Mother Company aims to support parents and their children, providing thought-provoking web content and products based in social and emotional learning for children ages 3-6. Check out our Emmy Award winning children’s series, “Ruby’s Studio” along with our beautiful children’s books, music, and more. We want to be a truly helpful parenting tool… For you!
This was originally published February 10, 2016Posted in: Happiness, Parental Wisdom, The Mother Co. Mamas