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— As told to Jancee Dunn on Oprah.com
Lists often come from the organized, analytical left side of your brain, and to solve an intractable problem, you want to engage the right, the creative side. Make a mind map instead. Get a big piece of paper and start in the center with a circle that contains the original problem. Write different solutions, and follow paths outward on the page, limb by limb, pushing beyond the obvious. To plan a party, for example, I put “A great dinner party for friends” in the middle, and among the many branches, one went: “Make your own sundaes → mashed potatoes → have dessert first → sit on floor → indoor picnic.” Another branch went: “Progressive dinner → go to different restaurant for dessert(s) → show up at friends’ houses uninvited → scavenger hunt to find food.” A third: “Teach something → learn something → juggling → magic trick → expert invitee on food/wine.” Your to-do list will just get you from point A to B.
2. Hire a Coach
A lot of people tell me, “I’m a smart person; I don’t really need help.” When I hear that, I point out that Tiger Woods, perhaps the best player in the history of golf, has a coach. My first book came out in 2001, and I was approached by a speakers’ bureau that wanted to send me on tour, but I had done zero talks. So I got a coach. I spoke in 16 countries last year. Suddenly, I’m standing onstage with Deepak Chopra! I’ve got to tell you, for me to discover at age 45 that I could do this? That was a gift. A coach can bring out talents that you haven’t fully developed or ones that you might not even admit to yourself that you have.
3. Keep a Journal, But Not Just Any Journal
Good to Great author Jim Collins asked people who felt stuck, “What are you born to do? What are you passionate about?” A lot of them would look at him blankly. So he’d explain: As a kid, he was really into science and jotted down observations in lab notebooks. When he grew up, he worked at Hewlett-Packard—a great company—but he just wasn’t happy. While he was trying to figure a way out of his situation, he bought a new lab notebook, wrote his name on the front, and studied himself as if he were a bug, trying to understand what kind of bug was this thing called Jim. Each night he’d write the answer to this question: When during the day did I feel bored; when did I feel engaged? After a while, he noticed that his favorite moments involved teaching people. So he went off to do that and lived happily ever after. When you start paying attention to when you’re at your best (it can take a while to find a pattern), the results can open up unexpected new territory.
4. Blow Open Your Curiosity
Focus on what you love, but don’t limit yourself to only things that you love. Subscribe to new magazines, download podcasts on a topic that has nothing to do with your current life, go to lectures by people at the top of their field—even if you’ve never heard of their field, get books on tape, and follow websites that gather interesting information. (I get Cool News of the Day from Reveries.com and Trend Candy from TrendHunter.com.) If you’ve been banging your head against an obstacle, this kind of cross-pollination can get you over it.
5. Let No Idea Escape
Ideas are precious and fragile and tend to show up when we’re in the shower, in bed, or stuck in traffic. So we forget them. Try to capture 100 percent of your ideas—on your BlackBerry, in a notebook, on the back of receipts or boarding passes. Go for quantity. Defer judgment until later, when you start to sift through them. You’ll probably find that you have a thousand concepts—and most of them are bad. At IDEO, we start a brainstorming session on an empty whiteboard, and in the next 60 minutes we try to fill it with at least a hundred fresh ideas. (By the way, if you number the ideas as you go, no self-respecting brainstorm group would ever want to stop at number 97.) We’re happy if we come out with a few leads.
6. Find a Reverse Mentor
The world is changing at such a rapid rate that most people over 40 and certainly 50 (which is me) find it impossible to stay on top of developments that might contain the perfect solution to your family’s digital photos snafu or open you up to a job that would not only put your talents and skills to good use but thrill you. A reverse mentor—someone younger and more plugged in—can get you up to speed on new trends, pop culture, starting a social network account, or more substantial things. I have two reverse mentors. One, Diego, took me under his wing and helps me with blogging. What’s in it for the mentors? They’re building relationships, for starters. And, as we all know, you learn a subject more completely when you teach it to someone else.
Learn more about Vision Coaching and Mind Mapping
“If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right.”
Research in something called mirror-neurons showed that neurologically, our minds cannot tell the difference between things we see that are real or those that are imagined. In one study, people who imagined practicing a sport improved as much as people who actually practiced.
The mind processes information better in images and when we can create in our imagination what we want, the mind works subconciosly to create it. This is how the Law of Attraction shown in the movie The Secret works to help you manifest what you desire.
For years I have been helping my clients create the life they want combining Visioning, Visualization and Business Planning combined. Now you can use the practical but effective method of creating a Vision Board quickly and easily online.
“Oprah’s O Dream Board”
NOTE: The software works well on PC but only in Firefox on a Mac.
Turn Your Vision Board Into a Concrete Action Plan
Use FreeMind, the simple yet powerful FREE Mind-Mapping Software for goal setting to create a concrete plan to make your dreams come true.
A Story of Magical Manifesting
I’d like to share a personal story of one of the primary Metaphysical Laws I work with: Stepping out in Faith.
Recently I ran out of savings due to a construction problem in a cabin I have upstate on 9 acres. I wanted to start a new type of Mindfulness Skills Training to help regulate emotions which effect my health and did not have the money. It cost $275 for intake and $700/month which I did not have in my spending plan. I figured I needed about $2500-3000 for the whole program.
I DID NOT HAVE THE MONEY. But I stepped out in faith and called several times to discuss the treatment, when groups start and if they would work on a sliding scale (answer to that, no.) I kept letting them know I was going to take the training which starts June 1.
Last week an old client called to say I never cashed his last check from 4 months ago and he was sending $400. At the same time upstate, a lumberjack came by and offered me $2500-3000 for 30 trees on the far end of my land I never use.
I did NOTHING but DECIDE I was doing the treatment and stepped out in faith AS IF I had the money already and it appeared just in time.
Whether I want to take a course, get a new lover or start a new business, the Law of Attraction works the same.
1) DECIDE what I want
2) IMAGINE it as already happening in my mind
3) ACT AS IF it will happen by stepping out in faith and taking concrete actions toward my goal