DREAM IT

DreamGoals

We can feel a lot of personal power while working toward a DreamGoal. DreamGoals can give us direction and a sense of hope especially if we are feeling stuck in a particular area of our lives. I have consistently doubted my ability to reach goals once I’ve set them. Plus it has been tempting for me to wait until the perfect situation or circumstance comes along to give me “permission” to take a leap into unknown territory. However, there is incredible value and strength to be derived from taking action toward your goals EVEN with self-doubt, fear or whatever obstacle you see in front of you. You have the ability to create the change you seek in your life.

Write

Writing your DreamGoals can help you to become clear. It will also help you to create inspired action steps toward your goal. Be specific. This is a moment to practice setting aside what you think limits you and write your DreamGoal down on paper – unbridled and unburdened. I know for many of us that that can be a BIG ask. I think I have a PhD in judging/criticizing myself, and I have 100% questioned if I am “deserving” of what I envision. I have bitten the bullet many times over to set my self-judgment & self-criticism aside. You can too. Invite yourself to be imperfect, have compassion for who you are in this moment, what you’ve been through, and write it down!

Feel

Take a moment and remember a time when you were a child and felt such excitement and joy that it filled your entire body. This is a time to allow yourself to play with what it would feel like once you’ve achieved your goal. Allowing yourself to imagine a clear path in front of you, full of possibilities. Sometimes when I do this, immediately my mind can say, “But what about the person/place/thing or situation that is in my way? I mean these are real!!” Begin to understand that more is possible than your brain can envision! Inviting ourselves to feel whatever it is we feel when we imagine achieving our goal (excitement, hope, joy, etc.) can help us to release some of the self-doubt we might have about accomplishing our goal. This can help support us to take inspired action.

Visualize

What will it look like when you achieve your DreamGoal? I decided I wanted and needed to feel better: body, mind and spirit. Once I could “see” the steps I needed to take to reach my goal, that became my focus.

ACTION STEP: Read your written DreamGoal first thing in the morning and before going to bed at night; then take 2 minutes (set a timer – I know you’re busy) to visualize and connect with what it will look like and feel like when you achieve your DreamGoal. Get it into your subconscious mind with a daily practice.

Fuel It

USING “LIMITATIONS” TO STOKE YOUR FIRE

We all run into obstacles of one kind or another when we are moving toward a goal. I have faced countless obstacles. The obstacles have made me want to give up many, many – I really mean many – times. We will learn from the people, places, and things that cross in the center of our path. But conversely, there will be people, places, and things to give us the support we need to move through or around what is in the way. This section is about empowering us to train our brains. Progress, NOT perfection. We will begin to see what a difference these valuable tools can make to create clarity on our path.

1. List (Click the " - " to close)

Keep a worry list. Our brain can be Velcro for negative experiences. Worrying is so natural. Grab a pocket sized journal and make a worry list for 2 weeks and the minute you start to worry write it down. This can help release the heavy energy associated with worrying that can often keep us stuck.

2. Note

We start by paying attention to what we focus on. Do we pay attention to what’s going well or what’s going wrong? As a former opera singer, I have been very well trained to notice what is wrong so I can fix it. However I have done a good job taking this to the extreme, so that instead of self-criticism being helpful, it has been harmful. When we start teaching ourselves to focus on what’s working, we aren’t ignoring what isn’t working. This allows us to  grow in tour ability to become incredible problem solvers. This builds our confidence as we move through obstacles in the way that is right for us.

3. Move

Move your body in whatever way feels good to you. Emotions get stored in our bodies on a cellular level. This was absolutely the case for me being a survivor of intense trauma. I can say first hand that moving is an EXTREMELY effective and profound way to release stress and negative energy that is stored. The healing power of movement is one of the many reasons I have the gift of being a fitness Instructor at SoulCycle. My life is what it is because of the healing power of music and movement. Moving our bodies IN ANY WAY to create mental and emotional space can literally MOVE us in the direction we want our lives to go.

4. Meditate

I have a monkey mind and I am not ashamed to admit it! Ask any of my friends, they’ll tell you that truth. What does it mean to have a ‘monkey mind’? From Chinese xinyuan and Sino-Japanese shin’en 心猿 [lit. “heart-/mind-monkey”], is a Buddhist term meaning “unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable.” Meditation quiets the mind, which for some people can be naturally biased toward negativity. Meditating does NOT mean we stop thinking. But rather helps the grip around our thoughts to soften. Meditation helps us withdraw attention from stressful, negative thinking patterns we may have created over time. My favorite tool for meditation that I’ve been using for over a year is an App called “Headspace.” Headspace has changed the way in which I meditate.

5. Gratitude

When we train our brains toward looking for things to be grateful for, we will find that we begin to appreciate simple pleasures and things that we didn’t notice before. This is not always easy for me. I consistently catch myself when I am brooding about something and I forget all there is to be thankful for. Sometimes when I try to shift my thinking toward gratitude, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. When I have a moment, I make a gratitude list. Even if I only have time to jot down a few things. It’s all about progress, not perfection. ACTION STEP: Be gentle and compassionate with yourself. Our ability to look for the good even in unpleasant situations becomes heightened the more we practice gratitude. Try to take 1 minute a day and jot down 1 or two things you are thankful for in the “Notes” section of your phone or a pocket sized journal. My short list includes being thankful for the good health and well being of my son, friends and family, as well as myself. Everybody’s list is different – nothing is too big or too small.

6. Self-Compassion

Merriam-Webster’s full definition of Compassion: “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” When we feel compassion for another (rather than pity), it means that we realize that their suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of OUR shared human experience. We try to offer understanding and kindness rather than judgment. Do we try to offer ourselves the same compassion and understanding? Having compassion for ourselves can sometimes feel self-indulgent. Often times it’s easier to extend kindness to others than it is to be kind to ourselves. When we are having a difficult time, think we’ve failed, or notice something we don’t like about ourselves it is an opportunity to practice self-compassion. Instead of ignoring our pain, we stop to tell ourselves “this is really difficult right now, what action can I take to comfort and care for myself in this moment as I would care for someone I love?” It took a very long time for me to learn to care for myself. In fact, I started to practice compassion for myself in the hope that with this daily ritual, maybe my outlook would transform from self-loathing to self-love and self-acceptance. By having compassion for ourselves, we honor and accept our humanness. Accepting ourselves for who we are and where we are right now becomes a springboard for positive action. Our practice of self-compassion begins to fuel who we are. And in doing so, can bring us closer to what we dream.

7. Feel the ____ and do it anyway

What we think about ourselves and what we think we are capable of can hold us back OR propel us in a big way. I felt terrified to stop bingeing; to deal with the feelings underneath. All of us at some point in our lives have had something we feel holds us back. I remember going on and on to a friend and mentor about how horrible I was feeling. That things could never change. She was so great, had so much compassion. She didn’t call me a victim – although in my opinion I was living as one – she simply said “Feel the fear to stop bingeing, and stop anyway”. I was like “what???” Feel the fear – insecurity – anger – frustration – lack of belief in myself, aaaaand take positive action???  This phrase – “Feel the _______ and do it anyway” – was and continues to be one of THE biggest influences in my life. This approach really does allow us to feel what we need to feel AND simultaneously keep moving in the direction we want to go. It’s amazing how taking any positive step, whatever it is, can transform any “all or nothing” thinking. Feelings that we perceive as roadblocks become fuel toward our goals.

Discover It

STRENGTH IN COMMUNITY – IT TAKES A VILLAGE – FIND YOURS!

How can you believe in yourself enough, feel worthy enough of what you dream? At times, it can feel really tough. This is why it is important to line your path with the support you need. The people, places and things we gather around us can become shining lights when our path feels dark. It’s a reminder that we are not alone. While working toward a goal, I have stumbled through the darkness that came with lack of belief in myself. And at times, I can definitely still feel that darkness. This why as we walk through life, we begin to learn along the way the importance of community. To give and to receive within your community.

1. The Power of Emotional Support

Emotional support is powerful, crucial, essential – the giving and receiving of it within your chosen community. It’s nearly impossible to move through challenge without it. Giving emotional support is deeply fulfilling. It can also give you insight on your own path. Emotional support might look like positive feedback when you’re doing well, or encouraging you to keep going when things are tough. Objective feedback can also be extremely beneficial. Keep in mind, if someone you go to in your community for support is unavailable, don’t give up. We all have full lives and there are many reasons why that particular person is not available for you. This is why we have lined our path with shining lights that come in many forms. One of those other lights on your path might be exactly what you need right now.

2. Practical Support

Some goals require time, energy or physical resources. Do you have family or friends who can help out in practical ways? At this level of help, your friends or family don’t need any involvement in your actual goal. If you want to be a writer, it doesn’t matter that your partner has no interest in doing likewise – what does matter is that it is accepted that your goal is important to you.

3. Like-Minded Support

When I made a decision to stop bingeing, I really needed emotional support along with professional help. Being with a community of like-minded people moving toward living healthy emotional lives was extremely important to me. I found this in a weekly support group. While family and friends can be a real support, they may not always be able to understand the help you need as you move toward your goal. Look around for a community of like-minded individuals who are working toward a similar goal.

4. Expert Help

This level of help isn’t right for everyone: it may mean a substantial commitment of money and probably of time. If you’re going for a big goal, though, you may find it’s very worthwhile to invest in expert help. Whatever you’re working on, there will be people who can help in the role of a teacher, mentor, tutor or coach. With some goals, these individuals are essential and their involvement is pretty much automatic (if you’re aiming to get a degree, for instance). If you can’t afford to pay for one-on-one time with an expert, look for opportunities to attend group sessions (such as a seminar) – or even consider buying a book that you can learn from.