Most wishes remain as wishes because they never get connected to any real steps and then never developed into easy, straightforward actions. It’s like that old proverb:
How do you eat an elephant?
If you were given the task of eating an elephant, how would you do it? The main thing you know is you can only do it one mouthful at a time. And before you could get to mouthfuls you’d have to kill it, then saw it into large chunks and divide those chunks into smaller chunks until you had a mouth sized portion. Only then could you begin to eat. Given enough time you could eat the whole thing – one mouthful at a time.
What are your elephants? Your big, unobtainable wishes that are going nowhere?
Why not stop a moment and make a list, before we go any further?
Here are some examples:
- I’ve always wanted a boat, one the family could use. I’d like to teach my children about boats.
- I like music and always fancied learning the piano or something else.
- And New Zealand, there’s a country I’d like to tour, but I cannot see us ever having time for that.
Got your list? Good. This experiment is about having a serious go at connecting these wishes to the steps needed to make them come true.
First you need to sketch out the big steps you’d need to take to turn your wish into reality. Next you need to take each step and break it down into tiny, single step actions (mouthfuls).
What’s a single step action?
A single step action is something like open drawer, turn on television, print document. In other words it’s a small enough action that if I wrote it on a card and gave it to someone they could go and do it.
So far, so good but why think about wishes that don’t stand a chance of coming true?
Grab a pen and draw yourself a cloud shape at the top of the page. Print the word FANTASY inside it. These wishes, (e.g. your desire to own a boat) are fantasies. They float around in your head and you take them out every so often to polish them. Then you consign them to the back of your mind with a wistful look while you get back to reality.
Now draw a circle somewhere else on your page and print the word STEPS inside it. Join it to the cloud with a line. Next draw an arrow down from STEPS and print ACTIONS at the bottom of your paper.
This process is your chance to challenge what you are doing by linking these fantasies to the major steps that would make them real and then breaking down those steps in to a number of easy actions. When you do this I’m willing to bet one of two things will happen.
- You will get excited because a fantasy suddenly looks within your grasp.
- Or once you appreciate the commitment required to make it happen you will decide it is not for you.
Either way, it will no longer be a fantasy taking up space in your head. Dealing with it either by dismissing it for good or making a real plan will free up space to focus on other things you want.
Next time, we’ll look at a real example, one challenge which always comes up in a workshop at this point - How To Win The Lottery