January 2010


This popped up in my email today and I just had to share it…

The Magic of Thinking Big

by Will Craig

As long as you are going to go about your day thinking anyway, you may as well “think big”. Anyone can think small, and most people do. In fact, most people keep themselves in the same place in life, doing the exact same thing, without significant growth or change because of limited or conditioned thinking.

Ideas
Don’t just think about what is possible, think about what might seem nearly impossible, that would require you to grow and move beyond who you currently know yourself to be. Think about what you have always wanted to do or have in your life … those things that your heart speaks of.

“If you can dream it, you can do it.” ~Walt Disney

Thinking big equals going big. Thinking small means staying small. You decide. You get to choose your thoughts.

Be outrageous and let your imagination fly. This does not mean thinking unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky stuff, like being able to suddenly perform superhuman feats. It means allowing yourself to stretch and believe in the beauty of your dreams.

One particular line in there, “Don’t just think about what is possible, think about what might seem nearly impossible, that would require you to grow and move beyond who you currently know yourself to be,” really resonates with me. After only five years in business for myself there are many wonderful experiences to look back on. I spent nearly two decades in the workforce trying desperately to understand how I could fit in. For me, for my unique perspective and attitude and motivation, the answer was “you can’t.” That was a hard thing to accept, but it was replaced very quickly by, “Oh my God, I have to do what to make my business succeed?!”

The “what” was something I now consider quite simple, but at the time it was terrifying. My first business, and the one that still provides a great deal of my background bread and butter (thanks to wonderful, hardworking staff) is my housecleaning business. When I started, however, it was little ole me. I was unused to going into stranger’s houses and meeting them. I didn’t have much of a spiel and I was absolutely white-knuckled terrified. Of what? The unknown? The new experience? I’m unsure of the specific reason, but I was a complete nervous wreck. The first cleaning consult I went on, the guy actually asked me if I was okay. He never got an estimate, I ran out to my car, drove home and sat down and re-worked everything so that I wouldn’t be such a spaz the next time I tried to do a consult.

The thing was, I did have more consults and I did get clients. Slowly but surely my confidence built. I learned so many things about what to say, what not to say, what to agree to, and what rules and guidelines to put in place. In the end, I built a small, successful business that has generated income for me for over five years. Some of my clients have been with me since that first year!

A couple of years later, through a cleaning consult I realized another strength I had that could be put to use and I opened a professional organizing business. With limited funds, my advertising budget was practically nil. I decided to teach organizing classes and see if that wouldn’t bring in business. This was a terrifying proposition. Teach a class? Stand up in front of people and speak from a position of authority and knowledge? Was I insane? That first class was much like my first consult, I shook with nervousness as I taught the class. Thankfully I had a podium to hide behind.

Nearly three years later and I have published a book on organizing, broadened my offerings to include mini-seminars and classes through at least ten host sites in the Kansas City area and even expanded to teach other classes that I have interests and strengths in. I’ve obtained a certification in life coaching and I am currently working on a book on life change as well as a fiction book I hope to have published in the next two years. My successes in owning my own businesses, teaching these varied classes, and writing have encouraged me to embrace a life-long dream of writing. All of these things, writing, teaching, managing the business, are all interconnected and encourage each other towards success.

In both of these cases (cleaning consults and teaching organizing classes) I questioned whether I was attempting something that seemed impossible, had the potential for catastrophic failure (at least in my mind it did) and they were actions that required me to grow and move beyond what I currently knew myself to be, just like Will Craig encourages everyone to do!

These steps weren’t easy. They were scary, stress and headache-inducing experiences. But my successes, slow but sure in the months and years that followed, allowed me to see that not only was the ‘impossible’ actually quite possible and attainable, but that if I wanted it badly enough, I could make it happen. I can testify that I have grown more in the past five years than I did in nearly two decades of work experience before that.

You don’t have to quit your job to do it.

You don’t have to start your own business or teach classes to do it.

But whatever “it” is, think big. Dream about it and accomplish it. Because when you do this, everything opens up and you will see the world differently. You will see you differently.

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Goals and sub-goals are fantastic things. They list out exactly what we wish to accomplish, mapping the road in front of us clearly, and give us a concise directive…”Lose five pounds in the next two months” or “Enroll in college and start working towards my [bachelors, masters, etc].”

That’s a good thing, right?

Absolutely!

Except…see you knew there was a catch, right?…what if your goals are not aligned with what YOU want? What if your goals were made while thinking about:

  • What others expect from you
  • What your ‘responsibilities’ are to your family, friends, or society
  • What you ‘should be doing’

Why would anyone make decisions based on what others think they should do? Well, unless you have grown up in a pack of wolves, unless you have that very rare sense of self that knows exactly what you want and goes straight after it and lets nothing (and no one) stand in your way, then it isn’t too surprising.

We make decisions every day based on others. We fit into society and move within its boundaries and expectations. We are polite, we say thank you and please. We take turns at stop signs and avoid conflict with our co-workers.

Are we always this way? No! There are times when everyone’s anti-social side takes hold. But the majority of the time a majority of us are working within society’s expectations and conforming to the spoken (and unspoken) rules of conduct.

It is easy to lose yourself in that world. But how much unhappiness stems from compromise and capitulation? As in all parts of our lives, we must find balance.

List out three of your goals.

Right now…I’ll wait.

Okay, got them?

Look at your list and ask yourself, “Why that goal?” List your reasons beside it.

Now look at the reasons and underline them if they are other-based and circle them if they are you-based.

If a goal is other-based it has a far less chance of a) making you happy if it is accomplished and b) being accomplished at all.

If it is you-based, you know that this is a goal that you care about. Finding goals that are aligned with our own inner happiness are far more important than trying to make and achieve goals based on what we think our parents, family or society thinks of us. If we are happy deep inside, if we are accomplishing goals based on our needs and our interests, then it will allow us to grow as individuals. Eventually that growth can lead to us giving back (or not) to our community and those that we love on a scale that is tremendously magnified by our new inner joy.

Creating and striving for goals that benefit us as individuals is not selfish, it is the highest form of benefit we can give to ourselves and it will spread from us to others.

Take some time to sit back and ask yourself, “What is it that I want from my life?” You don’t have to have all the answers. It might be as simple of an answer as, “I want to be happy” or “I want a new career”.

Take it slow. Write down you-based goals that align with your needs and wants and leave the other-based goals at the door for now. Begin to work on them and don’t be afraid to revise them as you go along. Nothing is set in stone, not us and not our goals. Eventually, as you grow happier and more content inside, as you find the peace you have been seeking, your actions will naturally begin to impact those around you in positive ways. In other words, the other-based goals may often occur naturally, without any compromise or sacrifice of your you-based needs.

I am consistently amazed and impressed by the growth of the Internet.

On New Year’s we drove to a friend’s house, just a few blocks away for a relaxed get-together. The husband walked over to me, an old Coca-Cola crate in hand and asked if I would like it. “Like it? Are you kidding me? I’d LOVE it!” It was still caked with dirt from the barn it had been living in for who knows how long. What a prize!

This morning I saw it, propped against a cabinet in our kitchen next to the sink. I had brought it in to wash it, but the sink had been full, so it sat there until I noticed it again. As the coffee brewed I sat down at the computer and typed into the search engine “uses for coke crates” (with several changes to the words – soda, cola, etc). A host of ideas came up on re-purposing coca-cola crates, along with pictures, which I always enjoy. One woman had spent a year collecting little tiny teapots and had them displayed in a cola crate hanging on a wall. Another used coke crates to store baby-food jars filled with spices.

I resolved to hang the crate either in the kitchen or in the basement we are currently finishing out.

In the midst of my viewing different links and pictures, I also happened upon a completely different link. Search engines are amazing, but there are many things they pick up that don’t have anything to do with what you are looking for. And sometimes, actually quite often, these links can take you in directions you would never have thought of. One of my searches yielded the resulting link: http://www.yourdon.com/personal/fiction/doovers/index.html which led to a fictional book a published non-fiction writer had written. I read the first chapter, bookmarked it, and plan to continue reading it later.

What did it have to do with re-purposing coca-cola crates? Absolutely nothing. But it did lead to a source of entertainment and an education about how one writer has handled rejection (if the agents & editors won’t take it, publish it yourself!).

How often do you ask a question and find yourself typing it into a search engine? What will that answer yield? What other paths will it set you on that you have yet to discover?

Yesterday I was writing a scene in Book 2 of “War’s End” (a TEOTWAWKI type novel) and needed to sweeten a cup of chicory (non-caffeinated substitute for coffee). Having no sugar, and having already written in sugar beets into the book earlier, I now needed to understand HOW to extract the sugar from sugar beets. So I looked it up online! It’s actually pretty easy. I think I will try making my own sugar next year (I’ve already bought the sugar beet seeds). The link explains it all – http://www.ehow.com/how_2177131_sugar-beets.html and I easily added it to the story and continued writing.

I also bookmarked the page in case I need it later. Before I returned to writing entirely, I checked out how to raise beets (another link directly on the page) and this led to a question of how long beets take to mature. I knew by this point that I would need to start the seeds in the last week of March and had marked my calendar per the instructions on raising beets. Outlook will remind me of when to plant them now. After revising my search words to “how many days do sugar beets take to mature” I learned it will take 45 days. So I can plant them in March, say the 20th, and by Mother’s Day they’ll be ready to harvest and make into sugar. Cool!

You don’t have to take the path I just did. I recognize that not everyone is writing a book or needing to research wild edibles or circa 1800’s style food production. Really, I do understand that!

My point is this: Our lives should be filled with learning. Not the “Oh God, I have to study for the Biology test!” That’s memorization and regurgitation. It is somewhat necessary, since you often need those pretty little letters to follow your names. What I am talking about is the adventure, the leisurely dip into the pool of knowledge that sits there waiting for you. It waits for you to follow your passions, your interests, and indulge your curiosity.

What are quasars and how do they work? My eyes glaze over at the thought, but my nephew will happily discuss string theory all day if given the chance.

What can you do with old Coca-Cola crates? Well, from my travels today I would say that they have dozens of uses, including that of furniture. I think that’s pretty cool.

I want to work from home, what legitimate jobs can I do? Between Amazon.com and, eHow, About.com, and your local library – you’ll find plenty of options, my friend.

Take hold of this amazing resource and grow and learn and explore. Lose yourself in the possibilities and learn a new language, build a new skill, and discover your passion along the way.

And just for fun…here is what I ended up doing with the cola crate…

All those silly little things we hang on to…knickknacks, gifts from our children, mementos from the past. The yellow and red colors on the side of the crate matched perfectly with my kitchen paint colors!