Did you read my last blog post about the time I hit a brick wall? If not, you may want to go back and check that one first. Enjoy!
Down The Lane Game
So, in understanding and waking up saying I didn’t want to live like this anymore, the logical next question was...how do I want to live? I had been doing the hamster wheel living for so long, it almost didn’t occur to me that I had a choice. I was trapped living in an imaginary bubble of thinking I didn’t have control over what was happening to me. Then I popped the bubble. How? Well, I took some assessment steps that helped me construct a life I wanted to live instead of dealing with a life I felt I had been dealt with by some mastermind puppeteer.
That is sometimes a major realization for type A, caught up in the race, running ragged, feeling crazy and treading water crowd...YOU HAVE A CHOICE. Even the things you think that you don’t have a choice about, the things you think you HAVE to do or your world may fall off its axis, you have a choice about those too.
Step 1: Play the Down The Lane Game
Look at your life from the end game perspective. Close your eyes and picture yourself years from now, your children are grown up. What are you doing? What are you kids doing? Do your kids have kids? How do you feel? How do you want to feel? What are you doing with your life at this stage that you enjoy? Get a really vivid picture, think about holidays and vacations and day to day living. What are you doing?
Open your eyes and write it all down. Write down what this amazing life down the lane looks like. Make sure to pay attention to writing in detail the emotions you are feeling at this part of your life. What makes you happy? What do you like to do the most? What do you have hours and hours to concentrate on?
Do you feel stressed, worried, or over-extended in this dream, or do you feel relaxed and happy? What weights have lifted off of your shoulders? Look back from an older age perspective and think about the things that will mean something to you and that you will remember 20-40 years from now, write them all down. Write down all the things you want to remember from this part of your life as an older version of you.
Now open your eyes and evaluate. Does the down the lane you and current you have anything in common? Do you enjoy the same tasks today that you are planning on doing in your tomorrows or do you push them aside because you don’t have the time?
Key notes about getting a grip on your life:
Your brain is going to do what you have trained it to do. If you spend a lifetime feeling stressed and cycling worry, fear and the feelings of not enough, those feelings will follow you into later life. If you run around busy, busy, busy spinning but not getting anywhere, you will teach your brain to do the same later in life and it has been shown to have detrimental effects on our memory and focus now and in our later years. It will be what your brain is trained to do. If you show your brain now some of those qualities you aspire to have in the future, you will begin to train your brain to recognize and respect the quality downtime you are giving yourself. So if calm and peace is a feeling you would like it down the road you, then you need to carve even a 3-minute mini-van meditation and breathing timeout so that your brain recognizes that you like the calm and peaceful feeling and it will then look for more ways to find calm and peace within you.
That’s the amazing thing, our brain will repeat what we teach it. Teach it calm and peace, it will reach for calm and peace as a default. Live in stress and spin and it will expect and look for more stress and spin to consume. The other great thing about our brain is that simple strides toward our down the lane game can yield big results in helping us actualize our goals for down the lane.
Plus, if you just played the Down The Lane Game, you just did your first visualization activity. Yes, you are now a visualizer (if you weren’t already). Visualization is a major tool in helping actualize goals because the brain doesn’t differentiate between fact and fiction when we evoke emotion and create vivid pictures.
There are actual studies where people have learned music and gained muscle just by thinking about it, not by actually playing music or lifting weights. Isn’t that crazy? Just thinking about it, walking your way through it and attaching the emotion you would like to evoke can have your brain trained to move toward your goals. So, if peace, calm, and contentment are your goals but you can’t seem to figure out how to get there yet, start with just visualizing what it will feel like to be there already and slowly begin to work your way backward into implementing some time to practice what makes you happy and peaceful down the lane.