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Skip the New Year's Resolutions: Create a dream book instead

Posted Jan 07 2009 4:31pm

Lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more, get out of debt... do these goals sound familiar? This is the list of resolutions many people make at the start of each New Year. Unfortunately, 60% of these people drop their resolutions by 6 months. However, there is good news - making resolutions will likely help you achieve your goal. According to John Norcross, PhD (University of Scranton), people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to succeed at behavior change than those who do not make any resolutions.

As we are about to step into the New Year, I suggest that you focus on your dreams rather than creating traditional resolutions. Creating a dream book will help you supercharge your goals and give them wings. Your dream book will guide you and help you stay focused on your goals and dreams through the year.

In order to get a well-rounded plan for your year, it is important to include the major life areas: work, school, family, friends, leisure, hobbies, spiritual, health, etc. Take time to think about what you would like to create in each of these areas of your life over the next year. Think big… let your imagination run wild!

To help you get started, you might ask yourself - How would my life change if I banished all doubt? What would I do differently if I completely trusted myself? What actions am I willing to take to live my life on purpose? If I had no limits, fears, or doubts, what would I do differently? Write down your answers to these questions in your journal.

Close your eyes and allow yourself to create a vivid picture in your mind’s eye of what you really want to accomplish in this year. Focus on things you really want to create instead of picking something that you think you should create. Be sure to include every area of your life in this image. Don’t limit yourself with doubt and fear… really allow yourself to dream big and experience the excitement. Make this image come alive by using all of your senses. Make sure that you are a part of this vision of your future and not an observer. Experience this vision of your future as if it was happening right now.

Next, focus on one life area at a time and use your images to guide you as you create one big juicy goal for each life area. Then create 1-3 affirmations for each goal. The positive affirmations will help you stay focused on your dreams. Changing your negative self-talk to positive self-talk is a crucial part of achieving your dreams. Remember to be specific and create your affirmations in the present tense. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, your affirmation might be I am in great shape and love my body. You might also use this affirmation – I eat the right foods and in the right amounts.

You are now ready to create your dream book. Get a 3-ring notebook, a scrapbook, or journal. Gather magazines, photos, scissors, glue (or tape), and a couple of colored pens or markers. Create a page for each life category. Cut out pictures from magazines and use photos that represent your dreams and goals. Make a collage on each page with your pictures and photos. Be sure to include your affirmations on the page somewhere. You can write them with your colored pens or print them out from your computer. Be creative and have fun with it! Create a page like this for each of your major life areas.

The next step is to create your action plan. Having great big, juicy dreams is fun and exciting! However, it can be overwhelming as you try to figure out how to achieve these goals. Breaking your big goals down into smaller, more manageable, actions steps will help. That's the beauty of big lofty dreams; you can break them down into as many little steps as you need to in order to move forward. I suggest you keep breaking the big goals into smaller and smaller ones until you feel completely confident that you can reach the new smaller goal. If you don't break the goals down, you may get overwhelmed and end up not doing anything at all to reach the big goal. If you notice that you are stuck and not moving forward on a goal, then you know it is time to break it down further.

Go back and review each page of your dream book and write down at least 2 action steps that you are willing to take to reach each goal. Be reasonable in your action plan by creating small steps that are achievable. It is best to design action steps that you can accomplish in the next few weeks. Continuing with the weight loss example, your first action step might be to add 2 servings of fruits or vegetables in your diet each day. Remember that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. All you need to do is take one step at a time. Before you know it, you will be celebrating the completion of one of your great big exciting goals!

As you accomplish your action steps, you will want to create new action steps so that you are continuing to move forward. It is important to acknowledge your accomplishments and successes as you go. You might even create little rewards as you go. Focusing on your success helps to create a positive attitude and mindset. You may also want to include a few pages to express gratitude for what you have and what you have accomplished. An attitude of gratitude can help you attract more good things into your life.

Remember that no one is perfect. You may find that you lose your focus once in a while. If you do slip up, don’t fret or get angry with yourself. Simply refocus and get back on track. A slip up is just a slip up - don't use it as an excuse to give up.

Once your dream book is finished, it will guide you through the year and keep you focused on accomplishing your goals and living your dreams. Use your dream book to motivate and inspire you as you take each action step that is necessary to reach your goals. You will be harnessing the power of your inner resources and the unlimited power of the Universe to bring your dreams into reality.

The key is to look through your dream book each day and imagine yourself living your dream life. You might want to spend a few minutes in the morning, midday, and before you go to sleep reviewing your dream book and experiencing your imagery. Remember, it is important to make this image as vivid as possible in your mind’s eye.

Each time you do this imagery exercise, make the images brighter, bigger, and more exciting. The more often you experience this vision of your future and use your affirmations, the more powerful they become. This frequent repetition of positive affirmations and images will create and strengthen neural pathways in your brain (like wearing a path in the woods), making it easier for you to believe in your success and take the necessary actions to create it. This will also help you align with the Universal laws of success to help you create a life full of magic and miracles.

Remember dreams are goals with wings… follow your dreams in 2009.

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