Perhaps it's happened to you before that you've become possessed by an inspired idea or vision for your future; something that tickles your imagination and gets your heart-blood pumping...
And then, once that initial surge of clarity has passed (or been expelled into someone else's ear-holes), you're left staring vacantly at one looming, un-get-around-able question:
And suddenly all that vitality starts leaking right out of you, like heat from a coffee mug left alone to steam on a cold granite counter.
"Maybe I'd like to be a biologist," you think one day on a walk in the woods -- and not ten seconds later, you're lamenting that useless Art History degree that you labored for 4 years to obtain and that virtually insures against any sort of future in any sort of field that even remotely smacks of science.
For me, this raises the question of whether or not we're able to imagine, with ANY consistency, a future that is untethered by past experience.
If not -- if all of our future designs are automatically cut down to fit the worldview that was established at some point by our past experience of what's real and possible...
Then we are essentially slaves to that past; forced to live out the same limits on repeat -- like Bill Murray in Groundhog's Day, only without the awareness that it's happening -- until we die.
And that doesn't sound very fun -- does it?
The fact is that your ability to imagine a new potential and your ability to realize that potential rely on two different parts of your brain.
And we happen to live in a society wherein only ONE of those brain functions is typically valued, encouraged, practiced, and paid for.
Don't get me wrong -- I'm a HUGE fan of strategic how-to execution thinking, and I get tremendous kicks out of helping people find legitimate ways to realize the possibilities they dream of.
But none of that can happen without a motivating DREAM to kick it off in the first place.
The problem is that we've forgotten how to let ourselves want anything that is more than just a small extension of whatever we've already experienced in the past.
So at best, you dream of a 15% raise.
Or one step up the ladder at your current company.
Or selling that extra contract to bring in a few extra $K.
These are fine as incremental goals, but they're not really dreams -- because they fail to exercise your imagination.
And what we have, across the board, is a problem of imagination.
To help remedy this, I offer you this small imagination-exercise:
Think of 2 life scenarios you'd like to experience that, based on your accumulated past experience and wisdom, are relatively "un-realistic."
Just for fun -- just to see if you CAN.
Here are a couple things I sometimes dream of that have practically zero basis in "past reality":
1. Become a real estate mogul and interior design maven, capable of creating luxurious and restorative spaces that people travel far and wide to experience. (Perhaps run creative retreats for working artists on the side.)
2. Become a master botanist, wilderness-genius and permaculture expert, capable of retreating from "the grid" and "the grind" and living independently in the forest, with no other concerns beyond the present moment and the people I love and the general fate of the Earth. (Perhaps write award-winning novels to pass the time.)
Your turn -- what do YOU dream of, when your future is not bound to the same rules as your past?
Take 10 minutes to dust off your imagination -- and then hit me back with one of your dream scenarios.