By Sandy Bienkowski
Several years ago, everything was going wrong. It was almost comical—at least that’s how I like to think of it now. My car suddenly turned into a lemon. Repairs sucked away my paycheck. I realized I was dating a chronic bachelor who liked himself way more than me. Friends were getting laid off in droves at the publishing company where I worked. Plus, it was no longer a fun place to work. I quickly turned into one of those friends so self-consumed with my own problems, I had nothing left for anyone else. I was in my thirties and thought life wasn’t turning out like I thought it should.
I turned to the place I always turn—my journal. I wrote out a vision of how I wanted my life to look. And then I wrote out the depressing part—how my life currently looked. I asked myself: What steps do you need to take to turn your life into your ideal vision instead of its current mess? The action steps included things like: dump the lemon car, let go of Mr. Narcissist boyfriend, find a new job I love, and be a better friend. I was amazed at how quickly my life turned around. I landed a job at the national magazine, SUCCESS, writing about how people can improve their lives. How fitting, right? The boyfriend was happy I finally dumped him; now he’d have more time in front of the mirror. I stopped talking about my own problems long enough to be a good friend again.
So, that’s my first strategy. If you don’t like where your life is today, write out a plan for your ideal life. What’s your ideal vision for your life? How far is it from the life you live now? The only way to find out is to write out how your life currently looks and compare it to your ideal vision. Don’t forget the most important part—your action steps that will walk you right into your ideal life.
Next, write your 101 list. I learned this tip from Mark Victor Hansen, co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books, and it’s one of my favorite tips! Take 15 minutes and write out 101 things you want to do while you are alive and breathing on this Earth. They can be big goals—like travel to Australia or little goals like lose five pounds. Just capture everything that’s important to you. The reason you need to do it in 15 minutes is because the time pressure will silence your inner critic that likes to chime in on what you can’t do. You won’t have time to listen to any negative voices when you need to write out 101 goals and dreams in 15 minutes. Try it! Let me know how it works for you. You will be surprised about the power of writing down your goals. Six months after you do this exercise, I bet you will be crossing several things off your 101 list. Writing gives you clarity and focus, and puts you in motion toward your goals.
Let yourself win. Too little time and too many demands are common for most people. Don’t rely on your mind to keep all the things you have to do straight. It will just stress you out. Keep a notebook with you at all times for daily to do lists. (Some people like to capture to dos on their techy gadget—but I am a notebook girl because I love the feeling of crossing off items I have accomplished.) When you think it, ink it. I keep a list of work to dos and personal to dos on the same piece of paper in a notebook, and I make it my daily mission to see how many things I can cross off. Accomplishing tasks large and small—will give you a feeling of reward. (Make sure your to dos are aligned with your 101 goals. Don’t just be busy; make progress!)
Keep a master to do list. I keep another notebook for all of the random ideas that pop in my head and for long-term to dos. This is a good place for the long-term goals on your 101 list. Use something you can carry with you wherever you go to capture those moments of spontaneous inspiration.
I am excited to start this journey with you to Find Your Bliss.