I’ve lost count of the holidays I’ve planned, but never taken. Courses I’ve craved, but never started. Or worse, courses I’ve started (and often spent a lot of money on!) before running out of steam and deciding they’re no longer ‘for me’. There is so much I want to do and achieve. Yet at the start of each new year, I find myself with a long list of unfulfilled dreams. I tell myself, this year will be different. This year I’ll take those trips, learn that language, write that novel! While knowing, in the back of my mind, I probably won’t.
Does this sound like you? (Here’s where you nod your head so I know I’m not alone!)
Do you find yourself researching new ideas, career paths, courses, holidays or ventures, only to go off them a week later? Or do you excitedly set out on a new path, before throwing in the towel and realising it wasn’t right? What happened? And how do we know which plans we should run with, and those that aren’t worth our time?
To find out, I spoke with breakthrough and transformation therapist Shelley Viskovich.
Shelley says it’s not a big deal if our loose plans to take a trip to Thailand with friends (plans often made after a few wines!) don’t go anywhere. It just means it wasn’t a priority.
“We only have so much energy to use for what we want to do, so it’s about how much you really want to do it,” Shelley says. “If it was important enough for you to go with your friends on vacation, you’d move mountains to make it happen. Whereas in the scheme of things, it would probably just be a nice thing to do. It’s great to think of doing these things as it gives you ideas of what you want to do and what you like.”
The light bulb moment
So how do we know which plans are the ones we should, uh, plan?
Shelley says it’s about the ‘light bulb moment’.
“I get an incredible surge or intuition in my body. I feel really present and it feels as though time slows down and I am in the flow of the moment. It’s like I am going through life doing my daily activities, but something bigger is going on underneath like that goal is alive and is working under the surface all the time.
“When you feel this way about a decision, you know that it is right for you. Also when things connected to that choice come up, you know it’s right as well. Like if you are thinking about moving to Cairns and then out of the blue someone talks to you about living in Cairns. You know that’s the universe’s way of letting you know you are on the right track and your energy starts bringing things in to you.”
I like this mantra. It’s about trusting that the right decisions will present themselves. Feeling the surge. Surrendering to it and letting the process take over.
Reflect on the past
What decisions have you made in the past that turned out and changed your life for the better (or worse)? Shelley advises writing a list of those decisions that worked out, and those which didn’t.
“Sit and feel into what each one was like. Did you have a sense it wasn’t the right choice but you did it anyway? People often report that they did have a feeling it wasn’t the right choice at the time, but they override it as part of them wanted to do it anyway.”
Years ago, I started a counselling diploma, because I was desperate to escape my mind-numbing job. Plus, my friends and family said I’d make a good counsellor. I’m still trying to finish the damn thing and my heart just isn’t in it. It didn’t feel right at the time, and it definitely doesn’t feel right now. I now know that I didn’t trust what my ‘self’ was trying to tell me. I needed to listen.
Be a smart planner
Of course, it’s not all up to the universe. Despite what advocates of The Secret might say, you do have to put in some effort!
So often I’ve had an idea, one that really stirs something within me, and I’ve left it at that. Surely if I want it that badly, it will come into fruition, right? Not so. Here’s where the practical stuff comes in. It’s important to set S.M.A.R.T goals. This stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
If we really want to change, we need to turn vague thoughts into concrete, achievable goals.
One of the joys of life is questioning where we are now and where we want to be. I may not have taken any of those planned trips, or spent a year teaching English overseas (something I’ve wanted to do since I was 20). But reflecting and thinking and dreaming can be a lot of fun. It can help free us from our own restraints.
“Life is about constantly exploring new options. ‘Do I like where I live? Do I love my job? Am I happy?’ Exploring this it is a good thing, as if you don’t love your job and love your life, you should look at making changes in the areas that count.”
And with that, I’m off to plan next year’s trip to India!