May 4, 2011

The 30 Day Challenge: Step 3- Chart Your Own Course

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” – Lao Tzu

A couple of years ago Justin & I were on our way to a meeting in Newport, RI, when we took a wrong turn on to a side street. We knew immediately what we had done, but because the street was one way we had to keep going before we could get turned around. As the road dead-ended where we wanted to go left, another one way sign pointed us right instead. And as anyone who has been to Newport, with all it’s twists & turns and one way signs and cobblestone streets, can tell you…it’s easy to see where this is heading. On and on it went, wrong turn after wrong turn. Getting more and more off course. Being forced to zig when we really wanted to zag. And when it was all said and done, it took us a solid twenty minutes and who knows how many miles of driving just to get back to where we started. Where we still had the rest of the journey to complete. All for a two minute mistake in the road.

So, what’s my point?

Just this: You have to keep a careful watch on the course you’re charting for yourself. You have to know where it is you’re trying to go and really think about those side streets before you take them. Because even the shortest deviation in the wrong direction can take you ten times longer to get back on track.

Now, let me be clear. I am living proof that some deviations are a million times better than the original path. And the point here is not to say that once you pick a road for yourself, you have no choice but to stay the course until the end. The truth is, so much of the richness of life is about the unexpected twists and turns it takes along the way.

The real point that I’m making here is just about beginning with the end in mind. About knowing where it is you’re ultimately trying to go. Knowing without question at the end of the day, what is most important to you. And using that to navigate the path. So that when those twists and turns in the road pop up, as they always will, you can pause long enough to ask yourself “does this actually move me closer in the direction of my dreams?” Or is it just a side street and ultimately a dead end along the way?

Step 3: Chart Your Own Course

The action plan for Step 3 is all about giving yourself enough time & space to sit down and really think about where it is that you want to be going. About what you want this life to ultimately look like. About the big picture. The real dreams you have for this life that keep getting buried & blurred by the mountain of mundane we live in the day to day. So for the next week, I want you to do this:

1) Spend 15 minutes every morning and 15 minutes every evening alone and somewhere quiet, where you can start to hear your own voice again. Where you can start to remember what it is you wanted your life to stand for again. I was 5 years old when I knew I wanted to be a writer. Only to spend the next 25 years somehow forgetting that. It’s time to get back to the big picture.
2) During this 30 minutes a day of quiet time for the next week, I want you to start writing down words and sentences that feel like the life you want. They don’t have to make sense yet. If you feel them in your gut, just write them down. If you are a more visual person, gather up a stack of magazines and tear out the pictures that feel like the life you’re going for. Start assembling them into a dream board. Start putting the pieces together.
3) At the end of that week, I want you to sit down and write out what the life you love looks like. It doesn’t have to be perfect with proper punctuation. It can be stream of consciousness if it needs to be. Just when you’re done, make sure you have a description of what you want your life to ultimately look like. Of where exactly it is you’re trying to go.
4) And finally, as a companion to go along with that, I want you to write out a list of your top 10 “bHag’s” (big, hairy audacious goals) for your life. And just so we’re on the same page, as those of you who have done mentoring sessions with me will know all too well, a bHag is not “I want to live comfortably” or “I’d like to take a one week vacation” or “I want to fix the front porch.” Sure, those are goals. But they are by NO means big or hairy! Let alone audacious. A bHag is more like, “I want to speak to stadiums” or “I want to buy my next house with cash,” or “I want Jake Gyllenhaal to play the lead when they turn my first book into a movie.” :) Now that is audacious!

It’s time to start dreaming bigger. It’s time to get back to what we knew we wanted when we were younger, but somehow life just got in the way.

It’s time to start charting our own course. And running towards it as fast as we can.

So tell me, how is the challenge going so far? Are you filtering out the negative and being grateful for the positive? Have you passed the challenge on to a friend and helped spread the love? And most importantly, what are some of your biggest, hairiest, most audacious goals? Write em out and let us know. Because I believe we give a world of power to our dreams if we will just be brave enough to say them out loud for the world to hear. Annnd…Go!

  1. Chelsea McGowan

    We have our bHag’s on a bulletin board in the office. They are as follows :
    Build our dream house on land with lots of trees.
    Take our children on a summer trip to Europe.
    Renew our vows in Greece, where we wanted to get married in the First Place, with you guys shooting it.
    You guys are on our bHag bulletin board.
    Thank you so much for being brave enough to talk about your moments of questioning, and this 30 day challenge. I did something similar recently, and I can tell you, it’s made all the difference in the world for me as a wife, a mother, a friend, and as a photographer & a business woman. Mostly… I’ve learned to put "photographer and business woman" at the end of that last. It’s still on the list, but doesn’t come before wife, mother, and friend anymore.
    We love you!

  2. Angie Becker

    Thank you so much for this…sometimes we do get so caught up in the everyday life that we forget what we really would like out of life, as well as what God would like us to do. If we want something bad enough and for the right reasons, we just need to go get it!! Love you both and enjoy everything you have to say!

  3. Janet Galland-Hunt

    This is a great Challenge… makes you open your eyes and find the real ‘you’. I have been so very blessed in life that my goal is to be a photographer that people admire.

  4. MM

    I had a feeling people would be more quiet on this one! :) I know it’s scary, but saying something really BIG you want for your life is SO worth it! Let me hear just one bHag from everyone!

  5. Chase+Jaime

    Live in Spain, Germany or Italy, shooting the wedding season and then working the rest of the year for nonprofits. That’s one big hairy audacious goal of mine. -Jaime …And yes, it’s scary to admit outloud!

  6. Ray

    I can’t say my biggest dream, but one of them is to travel around the world for a full-year. That would be awesome-fantastic-amazing-phenomenal-ness. Yeah. I think I explained it well. =P Also: to be able to rent an expensive apartment with a panaramic view of the city!

  7. Shannon Rosan

    My BHag is a three week, luxurious European vacation, all paid for by the profits from my business. It is a huge goal that I have been dreaming of for a long time that I would love to see come true… I just don’t know how to get there….but I keep reaching :)

  8. katie

    my bhag is have a doggie day care and help rescue animals and give them homes!!

  9. Kare

    I’m still stuck on the negativity; I live with it and can’t filter it out. By living with me, I hoped the boyfriend would become an optimist like me, but it’s not happening. I’m going to keep trying though – at the very least, I’m trying to maintain my own optimism and tune out his negativity.

  10. Karen Stott

    filtering…check….sharing the love…check…. bHag….hmmmmm….. well. I think what I am meant to do and what I dream of doing are a little different…. I think my dreams are somewhat lacking in comparison to the capabilities inside. It’s easy to dream small, to dream attainable, to dream ordinary. But that isn’t enough. My here and now goal is to dream beyond myself. Beyond what I can wrap my mind around. To believe it can truly be. To let go. And to not look back.

  11. Asha

    I find that I really don’t have much negativity in my life- not sure how I did it, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem for me. :) I am working on the gratitude journal. One of my bHag is to write a book. Another would be to speak at WPPI one day (not that I even have a topic yet :) There! I said it!

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