Potential po·ten·tial adjective \pə-ˈten(t)-shəl\ : capable of becoming real
Potential is one of my favorite words because it can serve as the foundation for realistic dreaming. Potential means “capable of becoming real” – so in its very definition we are assured that the dream is possible. Now, daydreaming can be seductive. I have often fallen prey to wishful thinking of how I should…could…would be – and much of it was quite unrealistic. Most of my clients’ problems with self-esteem relate to this same process – comparing oneself to an unrealistic ideal and then feeling inadequate.
You can instead take a more strategic approach to your dreaming. If you anchor your dream in what is possible, you make it much more likely that your vision will become your reality. This requires intentional focus. Thinking through what is actually possible for you; being honest with yourself about where you are today, and where you want to end up. Owning your limitations or past failures/disappointments can actually empower you to build your best future.
Use this approach to make New Year’s resolutions that are attainable, sustainable and that will help you flourish. Here are the steps:
- First, you need to practice radical acceptance of the things that just are what they are. For instance, I will never be an Olympic athlete, I am very unlikely to participate in an Ironman competition, and I like my sleep too much to wake up at 5 a.m. to work out everyday (in fact, I am currently napping). That just is what it is. Radical acceptance is about accepting your present reality and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. “Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life, just as it is.” (Hall, Psychology Today, 2012)
- Second, you need to allow yourself to ask “what if?” Brainstorming a vision for the realistic ways you would like to grow and change. Conjure a vision that can actually happen, you know you can stick with, and that energizes you.
- Third, you need to crystalize your dream. Say to yourself, “I want to be able to clearly articulate where I will be in a year, 5 years, etc.” So, taking my fitness example, my vision is that I will feel strong and healthy and exercise will be a regular part of my life.
- Fourth, you need to identify the first small step to get yourself there. For me it was joining a yoga studio that had convenient class times and was close to my apartment.
- Lather, rinse, repeat…As you achieve each small step you identify for yourself, you will feel better and stronger and will then be fueled by your own success. You will build on this new foundation and step-by-step make your vision a reality. My second step is that I am going to start jogging for 15 minutes for at least two of my current daily walks each week. I will let you know my third step once I accomplish this second one….
So….what is your realistic dream…how will you fulfill your potential….what is your vision for your future…what is the first small step that will get you on a successful path for 2015?