The following is excerpted from an online course I’m creating about the essentials of creating a life you truly love. This working title for this particular module is, “Try Supporting What You Want Rather Than Diminishing It.” How’s that for a radical idea? It follows a module about giving yourself permission to want what you really want for your life, which is a theme my readers will recognize as one I write about frequently. So assuming you’ve actually given yourself permission to want what you really want – and if you haven’t, now would be a good time! – read on…
Okay, you’ve given yourself permission to want what you really want, and to feel how you really want to feel. Congratulations! Take a moment, right now, to close your eyes and imagine you are already experiencing what you want to experience. Luxuriate in the feelings and images that are stimulated. Relax, breathe a little deeper, and relish these feelings for as long as you can.
Notice that you can actually feel the way you want to feel right now, even before “what” you want has materialized. This is key. I’m not the first person to make this next point, and I’m sure I won’t be the last, but even if you’ve heard it countless times, see if you can take it in at an even deeper level:
We want what we want because we think that, in having it or experiencing it, we will feel better. So feel better now. The capacity for those feelings is within you.
As you choose to generate and experience those good feelings more often, you become a magnet for ideas, people and opportunities that are on that same good-feeling wavelength. You move forward with more fluidity, creating what you want – because you can, and because the creative process is so enlivening – rather than working to “get” what you want.
And that’s what supporting what you want is all about. It’s about finding ways to focus on what you want (rather than becoming absorbed in what you don’t want), relishing the anticipation of experiencing it, relaxing and opening to inspiration, nudging yourself to take small steps forward and looking for all the resources and reasons you have to succeed.
It’s also about learning to respond constructively to the small-self part of you that doubts your ability to realize your dreams, or simply judges them to be impractical and ignores them. We’ll talk more about that later, but for now just notice how common it is for people – maybe you? – to immediately look for, and enumerate, all the reasons why they can’t have what they really want.
We’ve become habitual dream-crushers with thoughts and questions such as:
- Nobody has ever pulled this off. It’s completely unrealistic!
- That’s going to take more time and money than I have.
- The world doesn’t need another ___________. There’s too much competition out there already.
- I’m not good at sticking with projects for the long term.
- Who am I to think I can have that?
- This is just the way I am, and I’m too old to change.
- I have no idea how to do this.
The list could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. Given how quickly our minds can fill in the “reasons why not” – the reasons we can’t have or experience what we want – we need to literally retrain them to focus in a way that empowers and supports us.
In this article I’ll offer a practice that has been particularly helpful to me, and to my clients and students, in that retraining process. But before launching into the details of the practice, let me offer another key point that you have undoubtedly heard before, yet is so fundamental to creating a life you love that it cannot be overstated. It’s one that is easily understood at an intellectual level, but in order to realize its power, you have to “get it” at a far deeper, more embodied level.
Are you ready? Drum roll, please.
You cannot get what you want by focusing on what you don’t want.
Let that one really sink in. Reflect on all the places your mind wanders throughout the day, and where it goes when you consider manifesting what you want. Which direction are you facing – toward what you want, or away from it?
Here are a few examples of where we often focus our attention. In many cases we think we’re focusing on what we want, but we’re really placing our attention on the perceived obstacles to what we want:
- Past failed attempts to create what we want (thinking that if we figure out where we went wrong, we’ll be able to move forward)
- Resources we need that we don’t have
- Tasks and to-do lists that don’t include any steps toward our dreams
- All the things we’re not getting done
- How hard things are right now
- How long creating what we want will take
- Worst-case scenarios if we pursue what we want
- Worst-case scenarios if we don’t!
If you were able, moment to moment, to notice where your attention is and whether it’s pointed toward what you want – and, if it is not, to pause and shift your focus – you would not need to use the practice I’m going to suggest. (But you might choose to use it, anyway, because it’s fun!)
So intend, right now, to do just that. Imagine you can turn up the dial of self-awareness and begin noticing where your attention and thoughts are focused. Keep choosing to pause and shift your focus whenever you notice you’ve wandered into “don’t want” land. Let it be that simple.
And now let’s get to the practice. It’s a direct and powerful method for developing a new habit of focusing on what you want in a way that is supportive and empowered. Here it is:
Keep a “Good Vibrations” notebook.
I love this one. I still write in mine most days, and without fail it helps me get focused and feel better about where I’m headed.
The idea of a “Good Vibrations” notebook is simple: record anything and everything that helps you get in the vibration of what you want to create or experience. It’s the perfect place for asking (and answering), “What do I really want to create or experience in my life?”, jotting down your Reasons Why, brainstorming (and even answering) your Effective Questions and playing with your One Small Step ideas. (Note: the capitalized phrases are the names of additional practices from the online course that were too detailed to include in this post.)
It’s also the perfect place for acknowledging and celebrating the steps you’ve taken and the wonderful outcomes you’ve created. Bestselling author Tama Kieves refers to this as a “win list,” which is a simple and powerful way to keep your attention focused on what you want, rather than on what you don’t want.
And the best part about the win list is, it helps you grasp that you’re already living into your dreams. You’re already successful. What you want isn’t a “thing” out there in your future. It is an ongoing expression of who you are.
Nothing is too big or too small for the win list. If you’re cultivating peace of mind and you carved 10 minutes into your day for meditation, that’s a win! If, in the midst of a conversation with a friend, you noticed you were complaining about the progress you feel you haven’t made, and then switched your focus to all the progress you have made – that’s a win! If someone gave you positive feedback on something you did, and you were able to really take it in – that’s a win!
And of course, if Oprah calls with an offer to create a new show featuring you and your work – that would probably go on the list, too.
Be creative about what – and how – to write in your Good Vibrations notebook. You can write in prose, poetry or bullet-point lists. You can draw pictures. You can add cutesy things such as stars and hearts to highlight your favorite things. You can spend two minutes with it each day, or twenty.
Make it fun and inviting for you, so that you look forward to writing in it. Keep it going for a while on some regular basis – daily is great, but weekly is good, too – until you’re living more readily from that “good vibration” place.
You might be tempted to dismiss this practice as simplistic rather than simple and helpful. I hope you won’t. It’s purposefully simple so your mind doesn’t get all tangled up in philosophical arguments or analytical detail. And it works.
Of course, feel free to create your own practices that help you support rather than diminish what you want. As you consciously choose to focus, more and more, in that direction, you will naturally create the positive shifts you want to make.
And remember, what you want matters…because you matter. Let that one really sink in, too.