It’s all in my head: How visualization has helped me

February 22, 2010 § 2 Comments

I’ve been reading The Secret over the last couple of months.  It hasn’t taken me a couple of months to get through it, but I’ve been reading it over and over, letting it sink in, seeing if I could swallow what the author is saying or if I thought she was missing the ball.  I think, that like anything else, there is some truth to what she is saying, but there are important elements about myself that I have had to recognize to find a way to make what The Secret is about work for me.

Take, for instance, the idea of visualization.  If you visualize what you want, it will become reality.  The mind has a tough time differentiating between imagination and reality, so by visualizing what you want, it will come to pass because your mind already thinks it’s real. And to some degree, I think this does work, but, I’ve found that I’ve had to make a few modifications for it to be successful.  See, for me, I need to know where that difference is between reality and make believe.  I’m all too willing to believe that what’s in my mind is true today.  Except that half the time, this isn’t the case. And without recognizing that fact, I would never have believed that visualization could be a successful exercise in getting what I want. Because I wouldn’t have seen that sometimes, visualizing what you want isn’t enough, sometimes the stuff around me needs for me to be present in it and take action in it as well in order for this to work

I live the majority of my life in my own head. That sounds a bit absurd to write, if I wasn’t in my own head, who’s head would I be in? Well, nobody’s.  Just my own.  But what I’m getting at here is that I have always had an incredibly active imagination.  And in some cases, that imagination has gotten me through some tough times.  It’s been my cocoon from life’s events that may have otherwise taken me down. But it’s also kept me in a world entirely of my own.

I’ve had some very good relationships in my head. I’ve loved and I’ve lost.  I’ve overcome so many barriers… except that many of them never made it past the walls of my cocoon.  And that’s where I’ve found the greatest benefit for me with visualization. It’s helped me see where there’s a disconnect between what I see in my mind as true and what the situation around me actually is.  It’s reinforced the importance of balance in my life.  Balance of work, balance of friends, and balance in the amount of time I spend upstairs, and how much I’m out taking action, ensuring that what I find when I close my eyes is what I will find when I open them.

When they don’t match, that’s when I know I’ve got some work to do. But that’s the easiest place for me to get tripped up – when I think everything is going according to plan, but I’ve only checked in with myself, not with the situation around me.

I’m not sure how many people out there are like me, and how many are the opposite.  But I do know that living in either extreme does not get me any closer to having what I see internally and what I see externally mirroring one another.  How about you?  What kinds of things do you use to keep yourself in check and on track?


I doubt that’s possible… or do I?

February 17, 2010 § 1 Comment

There are times where it can be easy for me to get caught up in the mechanics of a situation.  There are details I just haven’t figured out yet, and I get so focused on trying to find a solution that I miss out on everything else that’s going on.  Right now, for instance, I’m fumbling.  I have an idea of where I’d like to go, and for most of last year I was just out in the world, doing my thing, going wherever the wind took me.  Because I figured if that’s where the wind blew me, then that must be the place for me to be.

As much as I talk about being clear about choices, and trusting yourself and your instincts, I think an important part of this process is knowing that at some point, you may fumble.  How is it possible to be so sure of oneself if you haven’t spent any time being unsure?  The questions milling about in my head right now are ranging on all levels.  From relationships, to music, to career.  I’m questioning my choices, I’m looking at where I’ve been and I’m wondering if where I’ve been headed all of this time is still where I want to go.

Is it possible to devote my spare time and energy to build a company, write a blog that will turn into a book, follow my heart further down the musical path it loves so much and still have time for quality friendships and relationships?  Many people over the last couple of years have told me “no, no it isn’t possible.” And yet, I’ve found some that tell me “of course it is.”

I’m in a moment right now, that I don’t know which one of those sides to believe.  I’m doubting the truth of everything I’ve said so far.  And yet now that I’ve put those doubts into words, I wonder just how true they are?  Or if I’m just looking for a way to prove the rest of the world right.  The ones who say it’s not possible.  The ones who can lull me back to a spot of complacency.

Part of living the life of my dreams has been about recognizing everything I might be feeling at one moment or another.  Knowing that there will be moments that I doubt myself and my abilities, but having the strength to acknowledge it, but not to give in to it.

Doubt is as much a part of the process as belief. It’s as natural a feeling as any other.  It can be what gets in our way, what stops us from continuing on down the path to what we want.  But it can also serve as a valuable check and balance.  Whenever you are at a place of doubt, don’t just banish it from your thoughts, but don’t get caught up in it either. Stop, observe it, explore where it’s coming from. It crept into your mind for one reason or another. Take it as a sign to check in.  See what the situation is around you, see if what you want still fits, or if new opportunities have arisen that change your game plan.

Just as light cannot exist without dark, the good is never good unless measured against the bad, belief cannot exist without doubt. Use it to your advantage and then decide which one you’d like to prove right… what you believe… or what you doubt. Consciously pick one.  And I think you’ll find your proof either way.

Connecting Opportunity With Reality

February 2, 2010 § 8 Comments

Young people have more opportunities than ever before.

Some people will suggest I’m certifiably nuts for that statement. What about the economy? What about the global uncertainty caused by terrorism? What about financial barriers to post-secondary education?

The fact is there have always been challenges to achieving success. There always will be.

In my own realm in the communications field, the possibilities have grown exponentially over the years.

I have moved from being a newspaper reporter with stops in St. Paul and Grande Prairie, Alberta and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario to corporate writing and editing for a Crown corporation to operating my own communications firm to communications in the education sector to my current position as Manager of Marketing and Communications at the City of Grande Prairie.

Thanks to technology, someone in the communications field here in Grande Prairie could be producing copy for a company in Warsaw, Poland and never set foot in the country. For that matter, an entire website can be produced for a client in Walla Walla, Washington and no actual direct conversation needs to take place.

When I graduated from college, you could be a print, television or radio reporter. Now, you can have a job reporting completely online. There are companies specializing in advising companies and governments on how to maximize social media opportunities.

At the time I left college, Public Relations practitioners were not nearly as widespread as today. Back then, Marshall McLuhan stating, “The medium is the message” still resonated readily with people. Now, there are a myriad of mediums and there is a general recognition in the importance of communications – and the consequences of it being done poorly.

By merely mentioning Grande Prairie, Sault Ste. Marie and Walla Walla, Washington in this Blog, people who have these place names in their Google alerts will be notified about it.

As far as barriers go, I left college at a time when bumper stickers in Alberta read: “God, grant me another oil boom and I won’t piss it away this time.” This may be the first economic crunch of the generation, but it is nothing new for anyone who’s been in the workforce any length of time.

I grew up listening to news of every morning of political strife in Northern Ireland. I remember watching the American troops pull out of Viet Nam.

A similar explosion of career possibilities has occurred in other professions. A whole industry has sprung up around the green movement – my close friends, Cecilia Lu and Sofia Ribeiro, at Kiwano Marketing have found a niche in green marketing.

So, how does all this relate to young people in 2010?

There needs to be a far better connection to the opportunities and the realities.

Many parents and the education system, to a large degree, still have the mindset that little Johnny and Mary, starting out in Grade 1, will go to university because, after all, they need a high level of education to get a good job.

It really is much more complicated than that – and there are enough taxi drivers with degrees to debunk that notion.

In 2002, 58 per cent of Albertans aged 25-34 reported having completed post-secondary education. The rest? Well some would have started into college or university and dropped out while others went directly into the workforce from high school. A significantly high number of students still do not complete high school – in the 30 per cent range in some areas.

It is clear that the vision many of us as parents have when our children begin Kindergarten and the reality is not at all connected in many cases. Nor should it be.

How can we know what skills and aptitudes our children will have at age 5? In my own case, I didn’t even like school until I was in Grade 12.

My son graduated from high school and has attended college, but has decided to take a break until he determines what direction the schooling is taking him.

I support his decision. No education is lost, but when there is not an unlimited source of funds, there needs to be some focus.

Given there is no end of choices, I want my son to find something he is passionate about – unless, as parenting expert Barbara Coloroso would say, that choice is life-threatening, morally-threatening or illegal.

He might be best suited to travel for while and maybe work overseas. Unlike when I was his age, people backpacked in other countries and had to scrape up jobs to continue their travels, there are now actual programs that will help people line up opportunities and help them make arrangements for living abroad.

Far too many people are bored or stuck in a rut before age 30, despite the opportunities.

Sometimes that is because parents or the students themselves rushed a decision about a career choice. In other situations, people’s likes or circumstances change.

I believe a big improvement in the success rate would be made if co-operative education was mandatory for all high school students, even the ones who are adamant they know their career path. Maybe some time in the workforce in their chosen occupation would save thousands of dollars by students realizing a career path is not for them before it is too late.

There also needs to be more flexibility in the system. We can’t always pigeon-hole students and must allow for diverse interests.

A hands-on student may also have an academic side. In a world that emphasizes entrepreneurism, it would be handy if a young person who’s gifted in electronics could also take business courses. From first-hand experience, I know it is easier to operate a company if you have both practical experience and some courses to help you understand the ins and outs of business.

Although the education system has evolved in recent years, more needs to be done to ensure students are prepared for the realities of the real world, particularly given so many don’t actually attend post-secondary.

I am pleased there is more recognition that students acquire knowledge in a variety of ways and teachers are being instructed in how to address differentiated learning.

More parents need to realize they need to have a significant role in their children’s education. We shouldn’t criticize the education system if we’ve invested little in knowing how it works or supporting the people in it.

Our children’s teachers spend more waking hours with our kids than we do during the week, yet far too many educators get little support. In fact, a lot of people seem to think they could do a better job.

Society needs to do more, too. It was enough that schools were expected to teaching Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. Then it was sex education and drug education. As families became more dysfunctional and social problems became more prevalent, they have had to become part-time psychologists and counsellors.

Now, in many schools, kids are being fed at the school before classes get under way in recognition that children learn better with a full stomach.

There is an old African proverb that it takes an entire village to educate a child.

If we expect little Johnny and Mary to capitalize on the opportunities, then all of us must do more to make it happen. We need to be willing to change our thinking about how reality and opportunities can better connect.
As author and motivational speaker Tony Robbins notes, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

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