Post a copy of your goals, your vision, your ideal day, your life line, or your treasure map someplace where you can review it daily or weekly. Creating a visual reminder of the big picture you seek sets it in your mind and generates internal motivation and pictures to energize and inspire you. Sometimes we get so caught up in the day to day issues, inconveniences, and irritants of living, that we forget the big picture. Sometimes we need that big picture to help pull us through some of that yucky stuff we have to wade through to get to the other side.
I have made a habit of doing an annual mission statement and personal vision for my ideal life as well as writing down 100 things that I want in my life. I have been doing this for 20 years and find it quite interesting to see what was on my first list. Some things on your list may be easy to acquire or accomplish and other things may take you many years to achieve. It’s always good to have intermediate milestones to whet your appetite for more success.
Research has shown that our energy is enhanced when we are actively working on achieving a goal. I keep my treasure maps in my walk-in closet. I have also had them in my garage and inside my medicine cabinet door. One study concluded that 39% of the people who use your bathroom will look inside your medicine cabinet, so I decided to give them a show with my treasure map.
Reaffirming our mission on a continual basis gives us strength and energy to handle our challenges. The benefits of visualizing what we desire have been proven time and again. Seeing a picture of yourself in a positive state in the future sends a signal to your brain and your body to prepare for this end state and you subconsciously start behaving in ways to make it true.
Physical energy accounts for only 30% of our total energy while 70% of our energy comes from our emotional energy. Emotion is energy in motion. Get yours in motion through positive visualization. I have found that creating Treasure Maps – posters of pictures and words that you have cut and pasted from magazines that represent what you want in your life are like magical magnets to what you visualize for your life. The act of physically creating the poster and being on the lookout for images to add whenever you skim through a publication keeps your visions on the top of your mind and you are more likely to act in a manner that is congruent to achieving your vision if you see it clearly each day. Get your scissors, glue, and poster board ready.
There’s always been a certain charm of Europe that grabs hold of you, a sense of great architecture, grand design, great food, amazing culture, and women who know how to wear a scarf effortlessly. I particularly like to be in Europe for the holiday season. It’s done so well, so elegant, old-world charm, light-handed, and all your senses are immersed in holiday cheer. Not the unabashed, neon, tinsel-town fakeness in America.
So my BFF and I decided to spend this holiday in Italy and Belgium to surround ourselves with Christkindlemarkts, gluehwein, kaesestanger pretzals, and French fries with mayo in a cone and little forks as only the Belgians and the Dutch can do so well. When we arrived in Bruges, one of our favorite towns in the world that we thought couldn’t get any more charming and quaint. Well… cue the horse-drawn carriages clip-cloppping down the cobblestone street, the smell of chestnut roasting on an open fire (no kidding), and the smell of chocolate, the sight of 18th century canal homes decked out in greenery, simple white lights and red ribbons, ice skaters on the square encircled by holiday market stalls, and holiday music piped through the streets. Bliss, simply bliss from all angles. All we needed was reindeer and some snow. It did spit rain, so we ducked into a 15th century convent turned hotel for high tea by the roaring fire in the walk-in fireplace along the canal. We were the only ones in the sumptuous drawing room replete with champagne, tea, and crumpets – just what we needed to complete the holiday mood.
Several trips and years ago we had decided to up our game in several areas of our lives. It’s funny how little things can be improved and when you string together all the areas you have stepped-up, it turns out your life has been up-leveled in interesting ways. This trip was no exception. We continued to step up our scarf game because they are plentiful in Europe, take up no room in the suitcase and don’t break. I’ve come to know that eyeglasses are much more creative and interesting in Europe than in America. Why can’t American’s have imagination when it comes to eyewear. There is no comparison. This trip was no different when we met a woman whose dad has been the creative force behind some wild and crazy designs since the 60’s. Of course, we couldn’t leave the country without a pair of hot pink and purple frames to add to the collection.
One this trip we decided to step up our balsamic vinegar and chocolate game. Visiting a tiny artisanal vinegar house in Modena was a perfect entre into the world of fine balsamic vinegars. They produce only 2000, 100ml bottles per year and the entire operation is in the attic of their 1800’s home. The sweet, tart scent of vinegar wafted throughout the home where they took such pride in aging their stash for 12-25 years completely naturally. Of course, we had to buy bottles at $65 – $130 each. The complex taste is out of this world and the consistency of heave syrup is divine. I had long stepped up from the watery balsamic of the grocery store to specialty vinegars, but had no idea this amazing concoction existed. It rocked my world.
The same held true for chocolate. The Europeans have the Americans beat to shreds in chocolate-making, bread-making and many other things. When we strolled the Galleries near the Grand Place in Brussels, the high-end chocolate shops looked like fine jewelry stores with Mary chocolates holding the seal of the royal family. Another divine sensory overload. Eat your heart out Hershey’s.
The cherry on top was the sensory overload in the Grand Place at night with a light show set to holiday music while eating a warm waffle and turning in circles to not miss a thing trying to catch a glimpse of the fabulous buildings from the 1600’s bathed in flickering lights timed perfectly with the music. It was magical, it was marvelous, it was setting the bar very high for holiday experiences European-style. Yet another area where we had up-leveled our experiences and our awareness of bigger and better things available.
What kinds of things have you up-leveled in your life? How have you stepped up in different areas of your life? What are you consciously letting go of in order to make room for newer, better things, experiences, ways of being, doing, having? From things such as pens, furniture, fabrics, foods, jewelry, books, what you watch on screens, how you choose to use your time, dishes, thoughts, habits, colleagues, job/work, friends, behavior, bed linens, towels, lingerie, bags, paper, lotions and self-care products to hotels, villas, restaurants. Treat yourself to some up-leveling at any level this year. One small thing or big leaps and be conscious of what works for you and how it feels and what feels right for you. It’s all part of continuous improvement in all areas of your life. Make an effort to notice your space, your closet, your kitchen and refrigerator. What can you improve to represent who you are or who you want to become?
I’ve decided I probably need to be in Europe the month of December from now on. It feels like home. I’ve always tried to stay off the road and out of the malls and stores between Thanksgiving and Martin Luther King Day in America. It feels bad for me and I refuse to get caught up in the self-imposed stress of running around for sales and buying obligatory gifts that you wouldn’t normally be buying. The rushing around and fake blow-up decorations are a big turn-off for me. What feels more right is the old-school way of celebrating the holidays is how it is done in Europe. One more way of stepping it up and stepping out to enjoy what feels best for me. What do you do to feel your best and take care of your soul, your psyche, your body and your mind?
Look further down in your story than today’s page and see how you want it to turn out. What is the plot in your ideal story, who are the characters, and how does it end? Plan for the ending chapter and the twists you want to add along the way. Adding new sub-plots will keep your attention piqued. To help get you through a tough spot or difficult time in your life, page down a day, a week, a year or two from now to get perspective on how important this particular difficulty might be.
What does your ideal outcome look like and what do you have to do now to get to that point? Something that may seem unsettling or stressful at this moment may not be such a big deal after you page down a few pages to see what affect it might have on the storyline. Expand the story a bit more and make a lifeline listing the things you want to accomplish in each decade of your life.
Fast-forward to your 105th birthday and look at your life. What will they be saying at your funeral? What is the legacy you want to leave? Be aware of how you would feel about the decisions you made. Are there any regrets? It has been said that most people end up regretting the things they didn’t do more than the things they did do. What would you regret not having done in your lifetime?
If you’re going through turbulent times, remember that the hero of most stories always have to overcome obstacles in order to become victorious in the end. If you didn’t have some conflict, it wouldn’t be a very interesting story. Are you living a pager-turner life, with lots of pages dog-eared to mark the good spots, or are you living a text-book style existence with lots of dry material between the covers?
Are you as interesting on the inside as your cover might represent, or is your life more flash on the outside with some emptiness on the inside? What are you doing to make your life something others would want to read about? (As in a great novel, not the National Enquirer.) Page down from today and see if you are living a best-seller and start creating your storyline right now.
Defining your boundaries makes it easier to turn down unwanted offers or requests on your time that are not in alignment with your clearly defined values and principles. Stick by your guns to keep you from wavering and accepting anything that is incompatible with your standards. Doing so gives you the energy to follow through with your plan congruent with your stance.
One in four workers in America have an anxiety-related illness such as stress or high blood pressure, and the sales of antacids, pain killers, and anti-depressants is at an all time high. These signs of the times represent a workforce and a nation out of alignment. Is your body telling you that something is out of alignment in your life?
Take a close look at your work life and personal life and decide if you are acting with congruence. Monitor your body signals and heed the warning signs when it is telling you something is out of kilter. Be rock solid in your principles and your values and make sure that what you do when nobody is looking is what you really stand for – that’s called integrity and that will keep you from the energy drain of covering your tracks or operating below the proverbial line.
Hone in on the goodness of your values dear to your heart and be true to them. Ensure that your work is in alignment with your values in order to avoid energy-sapping stress. Living in congruence with your deeply held beliefs is enlightening and keeps you authentic to your mission here on Earth.
As we grow, our values may shift priorities – be aware of what you value and why, to give you more guidance in your daily choices. Once you truly know your values, it is much easier to say no to requests on your time, which do not correlate to your beliefs.
Set high standards for yourself and stretch your limits. Set short term and easy peaks as well as long term and higher peaks to build on your successes, build your self confidence and build your energy to gain momentum for the big stuff. Reach for the outer limits and rejoice when you accomplish what you formerly thought impossible.
Author and artist Susan Kennedy, a.k.a. SARK, says “impossible” means “I’m possible!”. Peak performers take care of themselves through body, mind, and spirit to ensure they can meet their challenges. Acquire solid, healthy habits to help you attain your peak: restful sleep, nutritionally balanced eating, exercise, emotionally stable relationships, and following your passion.
If you do not have a healthy balance in your personal life, there is no way to be a peak performer in your professional life. Get organized, get your act together, get goals, get support, and get going to reach your peak.
I’m sure you have heard “do what you love and the money will follow”. Well, so will your enthusiasm. The time you spend on something is directly proportional to the priority you give it in your life. Watch how and where you are spending your time to get a true picture of what you subconsciously think is important. Consciously choosing to do what you love often will increase your sense of control over your time and your life. (And your time is your life energy, remember?)
It may help to schedule a date with yourself on your calendar to block out the time to do what you love. List-makers know the power of the written plan. Take a look at the list of all the fun things and energy inserts you like to do and make time for creative renewal. When we are burned out, rusted out, pooped out, and tuckered out, then we have no energy left to give to others. If we don’t fiercely guard our personal energy by doing what we love often, then we run the risk of running on empty and not being there for others when they need us most. To be at our peak energy, we need to take care of ourselves, employ a healthy lifestyle, and honor our wants and our needs to be true to ourselves for optimum health.
A healthy lifestyle includes: hobbies, hope, honesty, home, heart, holistic thinking, happiness, hand-holding, healing, helping, humming, hanging out, hiking, good hair days, humanity, and honoring the human being inside the human doing.
I couldn’t imagine a life full of energy that wasn’t filled with these things. Currently stress costs American industries over $150 billion annually. What healthy habits are you cultivating to avoid being a statistic? Try including a new activity per week or a couple per month to get in the habit of practicing healthy lifestyle choices for a longer, enriching, and energized life.
You know how businesses regularly share best practices with each other or study their competitors or benchmark other industries and copy their best practices, right? It’s how they improve in areas they’re not so great in. Well, how about taking inventory of your own personal best practices and sharing them with your mentors, coaches, friends or other role models to lift everybody up? When groups of people get together to do what they do best, they thrive. It gives them energy do to what they like to do and feel successful at doing. When they spend most of their time trouble-shooting, putting out fires and fixing problems, they become exhausted, unhappy and inefficient.
Focus on how you best run your life and build on it and take from others what they do best and see if it fits. If it doesn’t, throw it out. Gain energy by building on your successes and not fixing your failures. This is a great exercise for your mastermind group or success team or personal board of directors – whatever you call it – your support system. These are gleaned from the good folks at Canyon Ranch Spa.
Here are some constructive questions as a place to start. Now get out your pen and paper or digital tablet and start writing/typing:
- What makes you happiest?
- When were you happiest?
- How did you become happy then?
- What do you like most about yourself?
- What creates that quality?
- How do you make that quality last?
- When did you have that quality the most?
- How could you create more of it?
- What gives you peace of mind?
- What brings out the best in you?
- Who appreciates you the most? Why?
- What are your primary strengths?
- What re your core beliefs?
- What values do you live by?
- Who is in your emotional support network?
- What best helps you feel creative?
- What are you doing when you feel at your best?
- Who are you when you’re at your best?
There are hundreds more similar questions to help us take stock of our best practices in every area of life. These should help you get started and light the fire to illuminate what may be hiding in the shadows. All the best in your personal Q and A session.
What is your function in life? Studies show that those who have a purpose, and are actively working towards achieving their goals, are happier than those who just show up for life each day. Set goals, change them, as your needs or situations change, and actively work on them. Do you have a mission statement and vision statement for creating your personal life as well as running your business or working in your organization? How does your professional function merge with your personal purpose? Writing down your goals, your purpose, and your function help to ingrain those visions into your subconscious to assist you in achieving them and giving you energy by looking forward to them. I’ve said it before in other posts – find your why that makes you cry and you’re on your way to living out your calling.
Anticipating and preparing for congruent personal and professional functions add energy and enthusiasm to your life. Knowing your function can give you the strength to face adversity in the world. Help increase your resilience to stress by choosing to align your workplace values with your personal values and purpose. When these two foundational things are congruent, you get the least stress and the most energy from the partnership. A playbook by Kathie Hightower called Your Enchanted Life: A Journal of Discovery & Delight at www.JumpIntoLife.net has tons of exercises and action steps to help you discover your function and what you really want. Spend some quiet time and meditate on your fuction and your why, then match that to how you can best serve. I find that being in nature helps me clear my head and clarify my thoughts.