In the first two blogs of this series we looked at Creating Your Dream Life and The Art of Reflection. In this final one, we will consider the second of the two competencies I believe are essential to develop in order to create your dream life: Imagination.
Blog Three: Imagining Your Way Forward
The art of imagination is a favourite pastime of mine. So much so that I have to work on getting out of my fantasy world and putting things into action in order to avoid the resentment that builds when watching others moving forward and staying stuck in the same place myself! This is where imagining needs to be balanced with its sister competency – reflecting – on the way to creating your dream life. Reflection will show you the stuck-ness that inaction and hiding in imagination will create.
Since this is a strength of mine, I find it hard to understand that there are people out there who find it a challenge to imagine a life they would like. But experience with my coaching and workshop clients has shown this to be true. Many people are at a complete loss for an answer when asked what they would like out of their lives. And they find it so difficult to access their imagination to create anything other than the soul-sucking mundane or toxic existence that they are currently mired in.
Working on your skills of imagination takes creativity, bravery and the willingness to say ‘yes’ to many things that may at first surprise you and make you feel uncomfortable. Like an executive who is courageous enough to stay with his imagination to consider a dream life that may not involve the dizzying forays up the corporate ladder, and may instead involve growing herbs in a tiny village in the Karoo. This is terrifying as it very likely will rock his entire perception of himself and call his very identity and life into question.
Or what about the PhD student who, with a little bit of imagination, comes to the realisation that although she is an outstanding researcher and a top expert in her field, it is music that makes her soul sing and, when she is deeply honest with herself, this is the journey she would rather pursue, even after the fortune of money, time and effort spent on her degrees.
The truth is that, like the process of reflection, imagination can give you access to many emotions and thoughts that paint a picture of who you really are – or at least show a better direction to take in this search than the path you are currently on. This often causes an incredibly uncomfortable, rocky lead into the unknown that most people would rather avoid. Change is unpredictable and messy so why would we want to bring it upon ourselves unnecessarily? The honest truth to this is that without working on your capacity to imagine your dream life – your true dream life unfettered by the consumerist, egoist trappings of society – you will never experience what it is like to feel truly free. You will never know the exhilarating rush of realising that you are doing what you love and that you wouldn’t want to be anywhere other than where you are now. And, importantly, you will never be able to live out of the gratitude that comes from going deep inside you, facing some of the toughest times and knowing that you did it anyway.
Quite simply, without the capacity to imagine, and to imagine grand things, you will never have a direction to move towards. To many people, this rudderless, safe existence is what sucks enjoyment from their existence in a more profound way than any other thing could do, and they are very often completely unaware of it.
Using your imagination to envision something so exciting and full of hope that it leaves you tingly and breathless is what will propel you forward to reach it. And the amazing thing is, you will probably far exceed what you imagined. The momentum of going in your right direction, doing what you were created for, will bring so much more that you could ever have imagined.
Do you have the courage to do this? Are you ready to open your eyes to what you really want – and start to take some steps towards it? You never know, you just might find your dream life after all – and it won’t just be in your imagination.
If you take this journey, surround yourself with encouraging people who only want the best for you. And, if you can, invest in a life coach to help you create your dream and achieve it.
On a personal note...
I am curious, creative, determined, committed and (a bit too much of) a perfectionist.