Archive for July 2013

Feeling Stuck? How to Build a Better Life by Dreaming Bigger

Everyone wants to be happy. They want to have achievable goals that make their life better. But sometimes people get stuck on the way to their goals. One way to get unstuck is to dream bigger and broader to gain a clearer vision of what you really want.

One of the activities I practice with life coaching clients is called “Five Lessons.” It begins by writing five dreams down on five different notecards.

Most people have trouble coming up with what their dreams are, and when they do, those dreams are usually narrowly focused. The write down something like “successful business” or “happy family”.

Those are good goals, but they aren’t really what I’m aiming for, so I push them to dream bigger, wilder, crazier dreams. Want to solve world hunger? Write it down. Want to be a world famous actor? Write that down too. No dream is too big or too crazy.

If the dreams are still too narrowly focused, they can be built on by following some natural questions. If you want to start a business, why? What’s the bigger dream that’s hiding behind that one? And so on.

When I’ve done the exercise myself, I discovered that I suffer from the same limited vision. I wrote down that my dream was to be a farmer, but that wasn’t really my dream. I was focusing too small.

When I open myself to bigger dreaming, I find that what I really want to do is provide healthy food to people and improve their lives.

From the outside, those two ideas both wear boots. But they aren’t the same. Being a farmer is a lot more limited and less fulfilling than the concept of providing healthy food and improving lives. It’s just a small part of a bigger dream.

If I held in my mind that “be a farmer” was my dream, what happens when I achieve that? What now? Worse yet, what if I become a farmer and find out I don’t like what I’m doing?

Having big dreams allows for more flexibility and more happiness when you get there. It’s still possible to create specific, actionable steps to achieve the goal, but the broader vision helps us with decision making and helps us keeping sight of what it is we’re actually aiming for.

What You Can Learn From a Curious Cow

How many times have you gotten angry when someone questions what you are doing? You felt like they were attacking you so you got mad and started arguing, damaging your relationship with that person. What if it turned out they really didn’t care what you were doing but wanted to know why you were doing it?

I recently purchased a young bull to add to my herd of cattle. He had never really been around a lot of other cows, so I eased him in gradually by introducing him to the pasture boss, one of my momma cows. Once she was comfortable with him, the rest of the herd accepted him as well.

Since he’s been introduced to the herd, the new bull is very curious and cautious about me when I’m out working cattle. He constantly tries to get behind me and watch what I’m doing.

For those who haven’t experienced it, it’s a bit disconcerting being around a 1,600 pound animal who hasn’t decided if you are a friend or enemy. There’s no opportunity for ego around an animal like this. Any argument you have with him is one you’re not going to win.

But that lack of ego offers some clarity. I quickly realized the reason he was so cautious around me because he had taken ownership of the herd. He was doing his job trying to look out for their best interests and to protect them. Our intentions were the same, we both wanted to take care of the herd. We just didn’t know what the other intended.

The same situation happens between people in our personal and work lives. We let tension develop between us and someone else only to find out later that we’re both working towards the same goal.

It’s easy to get frustrated when someone is curious and questioning about what you’re doing. We tend to take it as an assault on our pride and get defensive, causing a rift between us and the other person.

What if instead of getting frustrated and trying to fight back, we dial down our pride a bit and treat the other person like a bull? And consider that maybe they are just trying to find out if we’re on the same team.