It’s a noisy world out there. Distractions abound. Then there’s Resistance tempting us to neglect our most valuable dreams.

While visualization and affirmations are popular manifesting tools, adding visual reminders can keep you from forgetting your focus. Happily, there are many ways to add visuals to your journey.

I was reminded of this the other day when I was searching for the perfect wall calendar for 2012. At this time last year, I was settling into my new home with its treetop views and added to the pleasure with a calendar of treehouses from around the world.

Since 2011 was about putting down roots, the new year is going to be focused on growing wings. My new calendar of gorgeous scenes from Tuscany will be a constant reminder of the big wide world I want to explore.

Here are some other tried and true favorites for adding positive energy to our goals and dreams.

° Write it down. I don’t know a single goal-setting system that doesn’t begin by urging us to pick up a pen. As Patricia T. O’Conner points out, “An idea in your head is merely an idle notion. But an idea written down, that’s the beginning of something.”

° Put yourself in the picture. Several years ago, my daughter asked me to visualize her driving a red Honda CRV. When we happened to pass that very car parked at the Pasadena Flea Market, I asked her to stand beside it so I could take a picture.

She and I both posted that picture where we could see it frequently. Within a few months, Jennie was standing beside her very own red Honda.

Whether you want to see yourself speaking to enthusiastic audiences or trekking through Nepal, find a picture of your ideal situation and paste yourself in it. Or, if you’re handy, photoshop yourself in.

° Carry a talisman.When I was visiting my sister in Athens, Greece, she took me to a shop which sold small metal plates embossed with a variety of pictures. Nancy told me that people used these to enhance their prayers.

If they were praying for a healing, for instance, they’d buy one of these plates with a picture of the body part that needed aid.

Ralph Charell is an enthusiastic advocate. He wrote, “Putting aside any consideration of the supernatural attributes or powers of talismans, they provide a convenient, portable, three-dimensional, concrete focus for galvanizing goal-directed thought into productive action.”

I once met a young man who was wearing a stunning crystal necklace. He told me about an exciting opportunity that had come to him.

”Do you think your necklace is responsible?” I asked.

“No,” he smiled. “I think it’s my talent. The crystal helps me remember to use it.”

° Join the vision board fan club. As your vision grows and changes, create a poster to reflect those new directions. (If you need help getting started there are several good books including Joyce Schwarz’s The Vision Board.)

Almost everyone I know who regularly creates a vision board reports coming across one from the past that they’ve tucked away and discovering how many things they’d posted that are now a regular part of their lives.

It’s a fun exercise that has the built-in bonus of helping you edit out things that you’re less than passionate about in order to make room for what matters most.

Barbara Sher once said, “When you think your dreams are impossible, that makes them invisible.”

Quite simply, adding visibility before dreams manifest, increases the odds that they will arrive—perhaps when you least expect them. So gather words and pictures of what you’re working for and keep them in sight.

You might just amaze yourself.


Ready to up your commitment to the Joyfully Jobless Journey?  Here’s a great power tool. Join Terri Belford and me in Las Vegas on January 28 & 29 and get 2012 off to a successful start. Early Bird enrollment ends on 12/31/11.



Five years ago, Marilyn decided to leave her soul-squashing job and start a business that would share her love of animals. Today she’s still dragging herself to that same job and her entrepreneurial enthusiasm is weak from neglect.

When questioned about her business plans, she replies, “Oh, I decided in this economy it was better to hang on to what I had. Besides I hate to give up my benefits and I really need the money from my job so I can remodel my family room.”

What Marilyn—and so many others— demonstrate is that whenever we ignore our dreams we rationalize it by creating a villain. It’s never our fault, for goodness sake. Someone or something outside us is standing in our way.

That thinking leads us to look for the villain which is often disguised as an excuse.

Since finding an excuse is not a creative exercise, most excuses aren’t too original. Knowing that, syndicated columnist Dale Dauten put together the Excuse-O-Matic which can be a handy tool.

Just find your age and under it you’ll find the corresponding excuse not to take a risk.

Under 30—too young

Need to get established/planning marriage/ kids/house

No experience/no credit/no capital

30 to 40—too busy

Have spouse/children/mortgage

Too much credit/need to save for college tuition

40 to 55—too stretched

Kids in college

Need to pay down debt/save for retirement

Over 55—too tired

Not up on latest technologies

Too late to risk capital

Concerned about losing retirement benefits

Deceased—too dead

The final and best excuse

Now I’m not a mathematician, but I can see that if you add up these excuses all you’re left with are excuses.

If you want to amaze and dazzle yourself,  give up, once and for all, anything that sounds like an excuse.

Giving up all excuses is not enough, however. In the part of your brain where you’ve stored reasons and excuses, start building an Option Bank.

An Option Bank, just like the place where you store money, is a repository of good ideas, dreams and goals. Like an ordinary bank, the more you put in, the more you can draw out.

The best way to get started at this is to convince yourself that there is never just a single option available. Never. If you begin with that premise, your creative spirit will be free to go to work.

A word of warning: this is not the same as the frequently used expression, “I’m keeping my options open,” which usually means, “I have no idea what I want and am waiting for something to happen to tell me.”

What I’m talking about is a proactive listing of any and every possibility that occurs to you.

Another key to building your Option Bank comes from Harry Browne in his book How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. “As you view any situation in which you have a goal,” Browne writes, “there are basically two types of alternatives available to you. I call them direct and indirect.

“A direct alternative is one that requires only direct action by yourself to get a desired result. An indirect alternative requires that you act to make someone else do what is necessary to achieve your objective.”

On a blank sheet of paper, draw a line down the center. At the top of the page, write a goal that you have in the form of an affirmation. Over the left hand column write Excuses and over the right hand column write Options.

Think of your excuses as debits and your options as deposits. Now write your lists. If you can’t simply ignore your excuses, what direct alternative can you take to eliminate or change them?

When you repeat this exercise regularly, you’ll discover that your Option List will grow while your Excuses List will shrivel.

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage,” Anais Nin wisely observed.

Keep building your own Option Bank and you’ll discover that life not only shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage, but also in proportion to one’s options.


Scan the bookshelves for titles on relationships and you’ll quickly discover a trend: numerous titles tackle the issues around lack of commitment.

It’s not just personal relationships that are feeling the fallout from this wishy-washy approach, however. Hordes of people refuse to commit to anything much at all.

Does the idea of commitment make you tremble? A commitment is, after all, a pledge to do what we said we were going to do. It’s actually a way of volunteering to be accountable.

Those who avoid making such a pledge to themselves have no idea that they’re cheating themselves of some of the biggest rewards in life.

If getting a dream is step one, committing to that dream is the next thing that needs to happen. Commitment doesn’t mean trying something for a while to see how it turns out; it means being actively involved in how things turn out.

Obviously, not everything we attempt turns out according to our plans—but that’s not the function of commitment. Being committed is about going in for the long haul, not simply for one little project.

When I was cleaning out some back issues of Winning Ways, I came across this story from travel writer Pico Iyer that is a testimonial to the power of commitment:

Part of me really wanted to write and I suppose wanted to travel too, but I couldn’t find a way to do it. Finally, I decided I’ve just got to commit myself to this.

If I’m going to be a writer, I’ve got to haul myself into the unknown, be unemployed and try to make it work.

When I finally decided to commit myself to it, instead of just wavering, then suddenly opportunity came out of nowhere.

I think that if I hadn’t had the resolve to take the plunge at last into the unknown, I might never have been rescued in midair.

I think the whole process of traveling is about pitching yourself into a circumstance in which you don’t know how things are going to work out, but that initial act of faith can bring about good results.

Commitment, it seems to me, is a lot like love. It grows and strengthens over time when we’re truly committed to something that we care deeply about.

We don’t always know at the outset what will become commitment-worthy. What may begin as a simple flirtation, becomes more compelling as we learn more, increase our exposure and devote our energy to it.

For many of us, we’ve tried to make commitments to things and people and ideas that we really weren’t that crazy about. It’s hard to get past lukewarm if our heart isn’t engaged.

No wonder the word commitment elicits feelings of dread and drudgery. And if we’re only willing to commit where the outcome fits our preconceived notions, we’re doomed to a life of commitment avoidance.

Seems to me that commitment needs a new press agent and here’s what they might advise:

Give up ambivalent commitment.

That’s probably an oxymoron, but there are plenty who think they’re committed when they’re not even close.  Genuine commitment says, “This is what I’m going to do and keep doing until I succeed.”

Sound like it’s too much trouble?

“Those who would reap the blessings of freedom,” warned Thomas Paine,”must be willing to undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”

It’s still true.

When I saw the Twitter post from someone saying they were going to claim intentional serendipity, I smiled. See, I’ve had a long love affair with the concept of serendipity.

Like most people, I always thought serendipity meant accidental discoveries. Then I read Marcus Bach’s The World of Serendipity and discovered it is far more exciting than that.

According to Bach, the idea originated in an old Persian fairy tale which was retold in 1754 by Horace Walpole. The tale had to do with the Princes of Serendip.

While traveling through the world, these three young noblemen rarely found the treasures they were seeking, but continually ran into other treasures equally great or even greater which they were not seeking.

“In looking for one thing, Bach explains, “they found something else and it dawned on them that this was one of life’s sly and wonderful tricks. When they realized that, they got a new slant on life and every day resulted in a new and thrilling experience.”

Bach says, “A closer look at serendipity suggests that there are actually techniques involved. What seems to be chance is actually the result of (1) great expectations,(2) great sublimations, (3) great observations.”

We begin our journey expecting to reach a goal. When that doesn’t occur, we claim something equal or even better will take its place. Then we pay attention and see what shows up. (Note: we don’t abort the journey. This also doesn’t happen if we are armchair travelers waiting for something to show up.)

The author goes on to illustrate how this sort of serendipity has operated throughout his career as a writer. “No manuscript ever goes on its way to a publisher without a special blessing. I affirm that the manuscript will be accepted, that the publisher will like it, that the public will welcome it and that the book will sell.”

But once in a while one of the manuscripts comes back. “I affirm that though I did not reach the initial goal, there will be a wayside goal just as good, or better, waiting for me.”

“In some 25 years of writing, every manuscript of mine that was rejected eventually turned out advantageously for me. Either I improved it, profited from the rejection, placed it elsewhere, adapted it for radio or television, or benefited in some way from its return.”

Great expectations. Great sublimations. Great observations.

Or as Justice Cardozo said, “Like many of the finest things of life, like happiness and tranquility and fame, the gain that is most precious is not the thing sought, but one that comes of itself in the search for something else.”

So go ahead. Take up the journey and claim intentional serendipity for yourself. You’ll be delighted by the unexpected treasures that appear when you’re paying attention.