Here it is, the chapter you've been awaiting with eagerness, anxiety, or both. Here you'll discover what you want. You'll get to choose which of those wants you'll pursue, which you'll let pass, and which you'll postpone.
The underlying question of this chapter was best stated by Dr. Robert Schuller: "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?"
The answer to this question may require some reflection. I use the word reflection rather than thought because, as William James once said, "A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices."
We all have prejudices. We think we don't know what we want, and that becomes a prejudice. We think we know for sure what we want, and that becomes a prejudice. We think we'll discover what we want sometime--but not now--and that becomes a prejudice.
To the degree you can, clear the slate. Start fresh. If a dream is truly your dream, it will survive the questions I am about to ask you. And if it is not your time to know, nothing I can ask will part the veil. You and your dream are safe. How well you learn about your dream in this process is entirely up to you.
If you happen to have some 3x5 cards lying around (ha!), get them. And a pen or pencil. If you're not using 3x5 cards, get three pads or piles of paper and make lists. Without 3x5 cards, you'll have to do a bit more recopying.
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW
Let's start by returning to the sanctuary.
Imagine going to the entryway. It opens. You step inside and bathe under the pure, white light just inside the entryway. You know that only that which is for your highest good can take place while you are in your sanctuary and during this process.
It's important to ask this for, as Cicero said, "the highest good." It's usual for various glamour-seeking parts of us to want something, not because we want it, but because it would be impressive to have. Obtaining these things only leads to woe. As St. Teresa of Avila said, "More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones." Or, to quote Oscar Wilde, "When the gods choose to punish us, they merely answer our prayers." Asking for the highest good of all concerned allows your true dreams to surface.
Go to the people mover and invite in your Master Teacher. See your Master Teacher appear through the white light of the people mover. Welcome your Master Teacher. Chat for a while about the process you are about to do.
This is a special process using your sanctuary. You can open your eyes, write things down, do things, and when you close your eyes again, you're immediately back in the sanctuary, precisely where you were when you opened your eyes. In fact, this entire process is done in the sanctuary--some of it with your eyes open, some with your eyes closed.
Open your eyes. You're about to make three piles of cards (or three lists). Each card will contain one item. As you write each item on a card, place the card in the appropriate pile.
Write a card to identify each pile. The first is labeled "WANTS," the second "QUALITIES and ABILITIES," and the third "LIMITATIONS."
Now, start filling out the cards. Free associate. A WANT ("Move to New York") might spark some of your QUALITIES and ABILITIES ("Adventurous," "Flexible," "Cultured"), and also some LIMITATIONS ("Not enough money," "Fear," "Leaving friends behind"). An ABILITY ("Talented") might prompt a WANT ("Become an opera singer"), which may inspire a LIMITATION ("Can't sing").
Once a card has been filled out on a given subject, it need not be repeated. One card containing the limitation "Fear," for example, is enough. (Might as well fill that one out right now and get it over with.)
Don't bother sorting or prioritizing the cards. If you "want" a hot fudge sundae, write it down. And, despite the rattlings of an earlier chapter, if money, fame, and power pop into your mind, by all means fill a card with them (three cards, in fact). Tiny Tim, in listing his wants, said, "I'd love to see Christ come back to crush the spirit of hate and make men put down their guns. I'd also like just one more hit single." That's how our wants seem to go--some cosmic and grand; others personal and tiny.
In the process of decision-making and organization, putting it all down in writing is known as a "data dump." Dump all the data onto cards, and the only sorting to be concerned about now is whether something is a WANT, a QUALITY and ABILITY, or a LIMITATION.
In writing all this down, remember that you're not committing to any of it. You'll have the opportunity to do that in a later chapter. For the purposes of this chapter, everything is just a "good idea."
And don't forget to have fun. Yes, it's your life you're looking at, and what you'll be doing with it, but that doesn't mean you have to be too serious. What we do to fill the time between our first cry and our last sigh is all a game, anyway. Treat this list with the same gravity you'd spend deciding what to do next Saturday afternoon. Shall we play football, baseball, or stage a ballet? Take some time now and fill out the cards. If you run out of ideas, close your eyes and return to the sanctuary. Ask the Master Teacher for suggestions. Get all your WANTS, QUALITIES and ABILITIES, and LIMITATIONS on cards. Spend at least an hour doing this, although you may choose to take longer.
Do it 'til it's done, and return to this place in the book when your piles (or lists) are complete.
Now go through the cards (or lists) you made during the earlier process What Is Your Purpose? Write your purpose on a card and place it where you can easily see it. Does this remind you of other WANTS, QUALITIES and ABILITIES, or LIMITATIONS? When you discovered your purpose, you made a list of qualities about yourself, and also actions you enjoyed. These can be added to the QUALITIES and ABILITIES or WANTS piles.
Now, look at the earlier listing of all the things you already have for which you are grateful. Add those things you want to include in your future to your WANTS list. Yes, you already have them, but maintaining them will probably take some time.
Almost everything-- except perhaps that rock you brought back from Yosemite--requires some maintenance. To maintain what you currently have must be considered a goal for the future. So, add "Maintain house," "Maintain car," "Maintain relationship with _________," etc. to your pile of WANTS. If any ABILITIES and QUALITIES or LIMITATIONS arise while adding these wants, make cards for them, too.
That done, let's turn to the WANT pile. Sort each want into one of five categories: Marriage/ Family, Career/Professional, Social/Political, Religious/Spiritual, and Recreation/Fun.
I am making the assumption that everyone will want some recreation and/or fun in their lives regardless of which area of life they choose to primarily pursue. It seems to me that even the most serious devotee of a given path will want some recreation--in the sense of re-creation. So I'm making this a parallel category, one that can complement whatever major life area you choose to pursue.
In choosing the category (Marriage/Family, Career/Professional, Social/Political, Religious/Spiritual, or Recreation/Fun) in which to put each WANT, remember, "to thine own self be true." There may be an obvious category, but your personal motivation may make a particular WANT part of another category.
If one of your WANTS is, say, "Become a minister," is that because you want to be closer to God (Religious/Spiritual), you feel it would be a good platform from which to make social change (Social/Political), you think it would be a rewarding occupation (Career/Professional), or you want to intensify your relationship with someone who has a decided fondness for persons of the cloth (Marriage/Family)?
GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR
We must look closely at our motivations. As Madonna explained, "Losing my virginity was a career move."
You could, for example, put "Get married" under Career/Professional because everyone in the career you intend to pursue is properly espoused. Or, perhaps you're doing it for Religious/Spiritual reasons, following the dictate of Paul when he wrote, "It is better to marry than to burn" (I Corinthians, 7:9). You could be getting married for primarily societal reasons: "Any young man who is unmarried at the age of twenty-one," said Brigham Young, "is a menace to the community." Or, you might want to get married just because you want to get married (Marriage/Family).
There will be some overlapping, of course, but put each WANT card in the category that most fits your motivation.
That done, review each of the Marriage/Family, Career/Professional, Social/Political, and Religious/Spiritual categories. (We'll look at Recreation/Fun a little later.)
Now, let's look ahead for the next, say, five years.
Take each category of wants separately, read them over, then close your eyes. Imagine what your life would be like in the next five years if you had a good number of those wants. Explore both the good and the bad, the up side and the down. Be neither too romantic nor too cynical. Take a look at it "straight on."
Use all the elements of your sanctuary to explore your life in that category. You can use the people mover to invite experts in the field and discuss the pros and cons; the information retrieval system to gather any facts or data you might find useful; the video screen to see yourself living that life. You can put on ability suits for each of the wants, and experience what that ability is like in the ability suit practice area; visit your health center and check on the health risks and advantages of each want; contemplate the category in your sacred room; and, of course, take your Master Teacher along with you throughout the whole process, discussing your reactions as you go.
MR. DRYSDALE: Yes, I've heard it. And I consider it one of the most ridiculous statements ever made.
THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES
And in all cases, ask yourself, "Would this direction in life fulfill my purpose?"
After spending time in your sanctuary with each of the four main areas of life, ask yourself, "During the next five years, within which category does my heart's desire lie? During the next five years, which would give me the most satisfaction?"
If no answer is forthcoming, return with your Master Teacher to your sanctuary and explore. Is the choice between two? Examine them both, alternately. Which is most "on purpose"? Which category thrills your heart the most?
When you've chosen the category, go through all the wants within the category and select the one WANT you want the most. Again, use all the tools in the sanctuary to explore the pros and cons of each WANT, and choose the Big Want, the Big Goal, the Big Dream.
Why do I have you choose a category first, then a goal within that category? Usually, going for the Big Goal within a category automatically fulfills many of the smaller goals within that category--not all, of course, but many. If you pick the area of life first, you will, by pursuing a Big Dream within that area, have more of what you want in the area of life you choose.
You are, of course, free to choose a Big Dream outside the area of life you are most drawn to. I have found, however, that most people tend to be more fulfilled by obtaining several goals within the area they prefer, rather than one big goal in an area they don't prefer as much. This is just an observation. Please make your choice of Big Dream yourself. Your Master Teacher will not steer you wrong.
One method of choosing between two Big Dreams that seem equally appealing is to make a list of all the pros and cons for each choice. As you read over these lists and compare them, one dream usually takes the lead.
Is this it? Is this your dream? The Big Dream? If yes, read on. If no, keep choosing.
Congratulations! But our work is not yet over.
When you have chosen, then quantify your dream. That is, make it a goal with specific results so that you'll know when you've achieved it.
This can be tough. People like to keep their dreams vague. "I want a family," is easier to say than, "I want a spouse, two children and a rottweiler." But one is obtainable, one is not.
"I want a family" is not obtainable because the goal does not define what a family is. You could have a family of mice in your kitchen and your goal is fulfilled. "That's not what I mean." You could have eighteen children and still not reach the goal, because some families have nineteen children. "That's not what I mean, either."
Then what do you mean?
Put something countable, something quantifiable in your goal so that you'll know when you've obtained it. You are not saddled with this goal forever and ever. When you reach it, you can choose a bigger one. For now, however, it's important to know what your goal is and be able to tell when you've reached it. (Remember: you haven't committed to anything yet.)
Here is where money often comes in. Although money is not a great goal by itself, as an indicator of whether or not you've obtained a goal, it can be excellent. As the people who understand money say, "Money is just a way of keeping score."
Rather than, "I am a singer," say "I am a singer making $50,000 (or $100,000, or $1,000,000) per year singing." Make the goal big enough to be a dream (if you're already making $40,000 at something, $42,000 is hardly a Big Dream), but small enough to be at least partially believable (if you're making nothing at something, jumping to $100,000,000 per year might be a bit too much for any of you to believe).
Some goals are quantifiable by time: "I am spending six months per year traveling." Others by amount: "I weigh 150 pounds." Others by degrees or recognition: "I have my medical license."
In setting a goal, it's fun to remember the movie Bedazzled. In a reworking of Faust, Peter Cook plays the devil and Dudley Moore--a short-order cook--sells his soul to be with a waitress who is indifferent to him. The devil catches the cook in one loophole after another. Moore wants to be married to his beloved, live in the country, and be rich. He gets his wish. However, she is in love with someone else. Moore asks for another chance. This time he wants to live in the country and have his beloved in love with him, too. The devil finds a loophole and makes them both nuns in a convent. And on it goes.
Be careful of the loopholes. If in doubt, add, "...for the highest good," to the end of your goal.
Write down your goal, your Big Dream.
Phrase your goal as though you already had it: "I am . . ." "I have . . .." If your goal begins, "I want . . ." then your goal is wanting, not being or having .
Now, for a slight aside. Do you know how many minutes there are in a week? 10,080. That's 168 hours. That's your wealth in time. What you spend it on is your choice. No matter what you spend it on, however, you never get more than 10,080 minutes (168 hours) per week.
On a clean sheet of paper, or a new set of cards, write "168 Hours" at the top. Now, let's plan the next year.
ALFRED NORTH WHITEHEAD
Let's start with the basics. How many hours do you sleep each night? Multiply that times seven, and subtract that total from the week. If you sleep eight hours per night, eight hours times seven days is 56 hours per week of sleep. Subtract that from 168, and you have 112 hours remaining in the week.
Now, how many hours do you spend each day bathing, shaving, making up, dressing, and on other ablutions? One hour? Multiply that times seven and subtract from 112. That gives us 105 hours.
And now, eating. An hour a day? More? Less? Consider an average week and see how much time you spend preparing, consuming, and cleaning up after eating. Let's say it's an hour per day, or seven hours per week. That's seven from 105, which leaves us with 98 hours.
What about other necessary personal tasks? (Include things only if you actually do them on a consistent basis.) Cleaning (including car and laundry)? Shopping (including groceries)? Working out? Medical appointments or activities? Church? Meditation? And so on. Calculate how much time you spend per week on these (don't forget transportation to and from each), and subtract that from your total.
Let's say all that came to eighteen hours per week. That leaves you with eighty hours per week. Half the week spent maintaining the basics-- and thus far we haven't even considered work!
We are, by the way, smack dab in the middle of something most people have a very difficult time facing: time. Yes, it's easy to accept the concept that there's "only so much time to go around," but, when faced with the reality--and the limitation-- of time in one's own life, that's tough.
Facing your time limitation is, however, precisely what I'm asking you to do. It may be uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as looking back on this coming year after it has passed and saying, "I really meant to do that. Where did the time go?"
Now, go through the cards that list the things you already have and would like to maintain. Calculate how much time it would take each week to maintain each of them. Write that figure on the card. Do it for what you already have in all categories, but keep the cards within each category (the Marriage/Family cards in the Marriage/Family pile, etc.).
Some things may require zero maintenance (that rock from Yosemite). Others may need quite a lot (children, spouse, careers, major projects). Remember, these are the things you already have.
Don't forget to include those things that must be paid for to be maintained--mortgage or rent, car payments, etc. For those, calculate the number of hours you must work per week, at your current level of income, to pay for them. For example, if you make $10 per hour, and your car payment, gas, and maintenance is $320 per month, that's $80 per week, or eight hours per week to maintain the car.
Now the truly tough choices begin.
After all these hours are calculated, go through the cards of what you have and want to maintain, and compare each with the Big Dream you selected. For each item, ask yourself, "Which is more important?"
If what you want to maintain is more important, put that in one pile. Subtract the number of hours it takes to maintain this from the remaining hours in the week. If the Big Dream is more important, put the card of what you want to maintain back in the category pile it originally came from. For the Recreation/Fun category, you can set aside so many hours per week for various activities within the entire category. Subtract that from the hours remaining in the week.
RULE A1: Rule A does not exist.
RULE A2: Do not discuss the existence or non-existence of Rules A, A1 or A2.
R. D. LAING
Confused? Don't be surprised. These are difficult choices, and confusion, anger, fear, guilt, unworthiness, hurt feelings, discouragement, and all the other denizens of the comfort zone form a marching band when difficult choices present themselves. "You don't have to make these choices," they counsel, "They will make themselves," or "You need more information," or "Let's eat! We'll do this tomorrow."
I suggest, however, that you press on. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Get comfort and encouragement from your Master Teacher.
Now calculate the cost for basic necessities (food, shelter, video rentals) not covered by the things you already have that you want to keep. How many hours each week will it take to make that much money? Subtract that number from your total.
How many hours do you have left? Is this enough to fulfill your Big Dream? If you don't have at least fourteen hours per week--two hours per day--to spend on your Big Dream, that may not be enough. If your dream can really come true with less investment of time, it might be a rather small Big Dream.
Of course, you can set aside more than fourteen hours for your Big Dream. The more time you spend, the more quickly your Dream will come true.
Now comes the fun part. Take your Big Dream, and see how many WANTS would automatically (or almost automatically) be fulfilled by achieving the Big Dream. For example, if your Big Dream was to become a movie star, the smaller wants of "Live in Los Angeles," "Be famous," "Make $1,000,000," and "Meet Brooke Shields," would naturally follow. If you fulfilled the Big Dream, a great many of the smaller dreams would almost effortlessly come to pass.
It's okay to go into any of the piles and pull out dreams that fit within the Big Dream. But be honest, now, because with enough bending and twisting, almost any goal can fit behind a big enough dream. "I want to be an airline pilot, so watching every movie that comes out will better help me tell the passengers what the movie is about on board the plane," or "I want to write a novel about being rich, so I think I'll take all my money and buy a Rolls Royce so I can get in the mood."
Now, back to the tough part. Eliminate all wants that are in direct opposition to your Big Dream. "Live in New York City" and "Experience the joys of small town life" do not belong in the same dream. One of them must go.
Be ruthless. "Oh, I can stay in Kansas and become a movie star." Uh-huh.
Please remember that simultaneously pursuing Big Dreams from two different categories is difficult. If, for example, your main area of activity is not Marriage/Family, please keep this in mind: if the romantic relationship you may seek in addition to your Big Dream does not provide you with more time to pursue your dream, either your Big Dream or the relationship will suffer. Usually both. I don't like this harsh reality any more than you do. It seems, however, to be the way it is.
If you still have time in your week (which is doubtful), you can add other wants to your week providing they are not in opposition to your Big Dream. The smart thing is to choose additional goals that somehow support or enhance the Big Dream--but as soon as you run out of hours, stop. That's it.
You can now combine the piles of The Big Dream And All That Comes With It and the pile of things already in your life you chose to maintain. Review your choices. Behold: your next year (and probably beyond).
Write at the top of each card in the new pile the following: "I am . . ." or "I have . . .." No longer are these mere wants. They are goals.
Hold on to the WANTS not in the "I am . . ." or "I have . . ." pile. We'll get to them in the next chapter.
For now, review the LIMITATIONS pile. For each limitation, ask yourself how you can turn it into an advantage. How can it become an ally in fulfilling your Big Dream? We've already looked at fear becoming the energy to do your best in a new situation, guilt as the energy for personal change, unworthiness as a way of keeping on track, hurt feelings as a way of remembering the caring, anger as the energy for change, and discouragement as a reminder of our courage.
See if you can find a positive use for everything on your list. Impatience? Be impatient for success. Stubborn? Let it become determination. Big ego? Bravo! Put it behind your goal. Laziness? Become lazy about doing the things not on the way to fulfilling your Dream. Procrastinate about procrastination. And so on.
Write the positive attribute for each former limitation in larger letters on the same card. Any time you feel this limitation coming on, you can return to the card and see what the positive use for that former limitation might be. Remember: it's all your energy. Align it toward your goal. Be creative. If some limitations seemingly can't be turned into assets, set them aside for now.
Turn now to the QUALITIES and ABILITIES pile. Review each quality and ability. Imagine how each quality and ability can be used to fulfill your Big Dream.
Look again at the LIMITATIONS for which you have not yet seen a positive use. What QUALITIES and ABILITIES would best help you in overcoming each limitation? Let the qualities and abilities gang up--let their deck be stacked in your favor; it is, after all, your deck.
Review again the cards in the "I am . . ." and "I have . . ." pile--your Big Dream and its companions. Compare each dream in that pile with your purpose. See how each fulfills your purpose perfectly.
Close your eyes, find yourself in your sanctuary, thank your Master Teacher, watch the Master Teacher disappear into the white light of the people mover. As you turn to go, you notice some writing on the wall of your sanctuary--your Big Dream.
Read it, enjoy it, become it. Move to the white light of your entryway. Bathe in it, breathe it in. Leave your sanctuary, and return to the outside world to make your Dream come true.
Copyright © 1991-1996 Prelude Press & Peter McWilliams