THE BLOG
02/05/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Step 3 To Your Best Year Yet

Three weeks ago, we began the process of making 2009 your best year yet. If you are just joining us, you may find it useful to read two earlier posts where we introduced the Wheel of Life, and the role of imagination in creating significant improvement in your life experience. Last week, we built on the imagination theme, introducing the notion of inner visualization.

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There are three elements to getting more of what you want out of life:

1. Know where you are going
2. Imagine getting there
3. Do the work necessary

Step One: Know where you are going

In the first post, we introduced the Wheel of Life as a way to help clarify your 2009 areas of focus. Simply stated, notice your relative satisfaction in each of the eight areas depicted in the Wheel. Then select two or three areas where improvement in 2009 would make a big difference to you.

Step Two: Imagine getting there

The role and power of imagination were briefly touched upon next. Imagination can be translated as "image in and act it out." If you can't imagine getting there, it's pretty difficult to muster the energy to even try.

Step Three: Do the Work Necessary

You knew there was a catch, right? Wouldn't it be great if all it took was having a goal and the ability to imagine getting there?

There are several tricky parts here and we are going to take the next couple of weeks to explore how you turn the goal and imagination into a satisfying reality.

The first trick is to select an area of focus and then create a realistic goal in that area. If you exaggerate the goal beyond the level where you can give yourself even half a chance, you are unlikely to follow through on the improvement.

Creating a "stretch" goal can be useful, but only so long as the goal bears some semblance to reality as you define it. If the goal is too small, why bother? If it is too big, why bother?

So, let's assume you have chosen a goal that is within the realm of imagination. How about one of those typical New Year's resolutions that come and go so quickly, something like getting in better physical shape by joining a health club.

So why do so many join, go a few times, and then fall to the wayside? The first answer is that your real goal is not about joining a club - it's about improving your level of health and fitness. There are lots of ways to get fit and improve your health. Joining a club may or may not be one of them for you.

Last week, we showed you a way to use your inner imagination to build stronger self images linked to the kind of success you might like. The power of the imagination doesn't have much to do with magic - "think and it will come to pass."

If you were to create a set of inner images of yourself already in good shape, enjoying the way you look and feel, perhaps "hearing" others comment on your improved state of health as well, you might find yourself beginning to lean more favorably toward what it takes to produce that state of improved health. If you were to imagine how good you feel after having exercised, you might find yourself moving more toward the exercise itself.

One of the tricks here is to persist in the imagination of a successful outcome, including how you would feel if you were successful, and then agreeing with yourself that you will not engage in the exercise unless some part of you really wants to - and then only so long as you really want to keep exercising.

Most people get hung up on perfection - perfection is pretty hard to attain the first day or two out. So, I prefer to suggest that people focus on the outcome and then doing something that is "directionally correct."

If you stay consistent with the inner images of a good outcome coupled with positive feelings about it, you may find yourself taking small steps in the direction of the outcome. If you haven't exercised in years, even 2 minutes is enough of a start in this way of thinking.

Give yourself the chance to feel good about yourself and the "direction" you are heading, rather than having to wait for the "perfection" of the outcome. This combination of imagination and micro steps can become increasingly inspiring as you begin to note choices you are making.

Now the next tricky part is to come up with a set of choices or activities you could choose that might help you get to your desired outcome. Notice I didn't say pick the one perfect choice or perfect plan. Just a set of possible choices.

So, your assignment for this week:

1. Choose an area from the "Wheel" that you would like to see improve next year
2. Imagine that the improvement has already taken place and create an inner "film" of your success
3. Create a list of activities that you could choose if you were so inclined, activities that would be "directionally correct" were you to enact them

For example:

1. If you chose something like becoming more physically fit in 2009, what would the outcome be when you are successful? Would you be able to run a mile in 12 minutes, swim 200 meters in the pool, increase your flexibility, or? Would you change your eating habits, avoid sugar, achieve a weight goal, or?
2. Next imagine yourself having achieved the goal and feeling great about it, with all the visual, verbal and emotional detail you can.
3. List some of the kinds of things you might do that would be on the way toward the outcome - again, just directionally correct, not perfectionally correct. Your list could include things like walk around the block, take a yoga class, pick a day and eat only vegetables and proteins, etc. Make a long list and include a range of choices. Keep in mind that you are not committing to these - they are just possible choices that are directionally correct.

Next week we will build on this, and show you a way to track your goals, your visualization or imagination and any steps you actually take toward the goal.

I'd love to hear from you. Please do leave a comment here or drop me an email at Russell (at) russellbishop.com.

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If you want more information on how you can apply this kind of reframing to your life and to your job, about a few simple steps that may wind up transforming your life, please download a free chapter from my book, Workarounds That Work. You'll be glad you did.

You can buy Workarounds That Work here.

Russell Bishop is an educational psychologist, author, executive coach and management consultant based in Santa Barbara, Calif. You can learn more about my work by visiting my website at www.RussellBishop.com. You can contact me by e-mail at Russell (at) russellbishop.com.