Some twelve years ago, someone who was becoming a mentor and who I still consider one of my greatest teachers observed and asked me, “Why do you try to live such a conventional life, when you are very unconventional?” His statement hit home and I knew it as truth, but I continued my conventional existence until about three years ago.
I don’t regret anything about my conventional life. I have great memories, made some dear friends and it provided lessons and skills that I will always carry with me. But at best I was only “half-full.”
It can be difficult to know how to change direction from the world I have mindlessly created according to the sensibilities of others to designing a life of my own meaning and purpose. Some people can cut the ties of a current life and walk directly into their new life; some must take small incremental steps. My way was somewhere in the middle. In the late summer of my life, I cut the restrictive ties of my pseudo life (see blog post “Monica’s Camino Story), and took decisive steps to recreate my life: visualizing, planning, doing and reflecting.
I’m a strong believer in visualization, not only because of what I've read, but what I had personally experienced. “Beginning with the end in mind,” I wrote out and define the vision of my life. When I close my eyes, I see the “me” I want to be. I hold that vision and its clarity as I continually work through the next three steps.
I lay out the steps that will take from where I am now to the place I want to be. I consciously assess what talents I already have and what obstacles lay before me. I plan how I will work through those obstacles. Do I need help? Who or where can I go to get that help? I also plan out how to let go of habits and thought processes that will impede my progress.
Plans are good, but mean nothing if they are not mindfully implemented. Slowly I incorporate into my life those things that will help me to achieve my end result. Every month I integrate one new activity or discipline into my life. Some activities will end to be replaced by new ones; some will be permanent additions.
Weekly I assess where I am. What did I do this past week that got me one step closer to living a life I designed? Sometimes the most important question is “What didn't I do and why?” Does the plan need to be tweaked? Is the timeline unrealistic? Do I need to implement better?
These are not linear steps but part of a never ending process. As I review the process the next steps become clearer as does my vision. Also, my attention to this process creates more serendipitous events and people that help me along my journey and, ironically, those I can help.
I have not fully become what I visualize. I continue walk and stumble through this new wilderness of life, but I wake up every day feeling that “Life is Good.” Every day I feel better than the day before. I wake up stronger and able to stretch beyond disabling boundaries and experience the joy of becoming. I know the journey will never be over and for the first time I am at peace with that knowledge.
Living a life of my design is no contest, and I am the only judge. What is at stake is my happiness, magnitude of a life well-lived and its fruit that I can share with others.
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