Hope is not a strategy. We have to plan. – Dr. Julie Gerbeding
Today, let’s discuss the intoxicating power of actually manifesting your intentions through deliberate action, rather than simply allowing your yearning to either succeed or fail through the efforts of someone or something else. To do that, let’s be clear on some terms. Dictionary.com defines hope as the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. A strategy is defined as a plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result.
Like me, deep inside, you already know what you can do to make yourself better, and achieve your goals. After all, you already know how to eat better. You already know that exercise will make you healthier. You already know where changes need to occur so that to can make more money. You already know why to stop smoking. You already know what needs to happen in order to retire in a manner you desire. And so on.
But, do you always and easily act consistently with what you know needs to be done? Do you always naturally move in the direction of your dreams? Of course, you don’t! And, then, you find yourself hating the realization that it’s just easier to relegate even your important desires to fragile hopes, rather than take the important action needed to succeed?
Today, I want to give you a little exercise that, when you are through with it, will help you take an exciting intention and marry it with a solid strategy to succeed. What follows is a simple action plan to move from complacency with what is to the masterpiece of what can be. This is not about changing what you want – this is about redesigning your strategy for getting what you want.
Take a piece of paper and write out three rousing hopes that you currently have; ambitions that, if they came true, would change your life for the better. Don’t censor yourself. No one is going to see what you’ve written. Go ahead – be practical or be outlandish. Be quirky or be sensible. The only rule here is that the ambitions, wishes, and goals that you write down must be both important and exciting for you!
I hope that __________________________________________________.
Example: I hope that I can lose 10 pounds before Summer.
Hope is usually connected with some fear. So, write out what fear is connected to your hope.
If [fill in your hope] does not come true, this is how I fear my life might be different: __________________________________________________________.
Example: If losing 10 pounds before Summer does not come true, this is how I fear my life might be different: people will laugh at me, my clothes will not fit and I will have to spend more money for larger, fatter ones, and I will feel like a complete failure.
Take the time to get in touch with all the negative thoughts and feelings that any lack of success in achieving your hope will mean for you. Don’t just regard this failure as an intellectual exercise. Really sense the feelings that your fear coming true might cause you. Now, for each item you have listed, ask yourself: Is this fear working for me?
It has been said by many others that people will do more to avoid pain than to seek pleasure. So, I want you to use the fears you just described as the spark – the catalyst – to move you away from mere hoping and toward actual doing something to make your hope a reality.
Now, for each of your hopes, write out what each one means for you if it comes true.
When [fill in your hope] comes true, this is how my life will be different]: __________________________________________________________.
Example: When losing 10 pounds before Summer comes true, this is how my life will be different: I will feel great about myself, my clothes will fit better, people will really notice how I look, and I will be healthier.
Take a moment and really notice the magnificent feelings you link with the incredible fulfillment of your hope. Notice how your body feels with your stunning accomplishment. Notice how you feel inside with this supreme triumph. And notice how you feel now compared with how you felt a moment ago when you were examining your fears.
So, how do you now move from hoping for an outcome to launching a grand design for your success? This is where we take your feelings of joy in achieving your goal and you make a choice to take powerful action to propel you forward.
Now, write out the following for each of your three hopes:
I can take the following actions to move me closer to my dream of [fill in your hope]:
Example: I can take the following actions to move me closer to my dream of losing 10 pounds before Summer: I can watch my calorie intake by keeping a daily food journal and holding myself accountable for what goes in my body, and I can exercise everyday by walking and on Sundays doing some yoga.
Finally, rewrite your can statements into do statements:
Example: Everyday, I am moving closer to my dream of losing 10 pounds before Summer: I am watching my calorie intake and I keep a daily food journal – I choose what goes in my body, and I am exercising everyday by walking and on Sundays doing some yoga.
Take these final declarations and put them on a card that you can carry with you as a reminder of your pledge to yourself. Use what you wrote as a daily prompt to take the actual actions you wrote about. Don’t just read what you wrote – do what you wrote!
An additional tool for you: As a reminder, you can always use your personal cabinet of advisers to provide you with input on what needs to be done and how to do it!
Oh, and one more thing, I am profoundly aware that there are some situations that arise where you find that you cannot control the final outcome. A major health situation, for example, might require you to wait for word from your doctor. A dire situation that involves a loved one or dear friend might relegate you to watching and waiting. While you wait . . . you hope! In those potentially life-changing types of situations, hoping is coping. This article is not meant to ignore your feelings of being vulnerable. However, you can still use the technique in this article to slow down some of those feelings of fear and dread. You might even discover that, while you don’t believe you can control a particular outcome, you can control how you feel about the situation.
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