Congratulations, you’re in Square Two! This is one of my favorite places to be, and my intention for this article is to help you to both love it and move through it without getting stuck. To recap, this phase is when you start having new dreams and scheming up how you can make them happen. I’ve found that people who struggle with this phase of the change cycle are usually struggling with one of two issues – first, they are afraid to dream at all due to fear of failure or social rejection and the second is a fear of actually making a plan and going for their dreams. We’ll dive in to the fear of dreaming first:
“But I could never do that.”
“What would people think if I even wanted to do that?”
“I don’t have the talent to do that.”
“I’m not creative – I don’t have any ideas.”
“I’m totally happy going to Vegas every weekend – I don’t have time to dream up a new hobby.”
All of these boil down to one easy thing – fear. (With some denial thrown in at the end.) Fear of not being good enough, fear of people judging you for loving what you love, fear of letting yourself have a desire and not getting it; all are equally crippling.
I have some tools for you for sneaking around these fears, but first, please consider this:
By not dreaming because you are afraid you’re not good enough, you’re telling yourself you’re not even good enough to imagine trying something.
By not telling anyone that you love what you love, you are judging yourself for what you love, and valuing other people’s opinions over your own.
By not letting yourself have a desire to protect yourself from the pain of not getting it…you’re already experiencing the pain of not getting it.
Not dreaming is a no-win situation.
To help get around the fear, here are a couple of ideas
Give Fear a Break
The goal here is to sneak past any fear and resistance you might have by doing something like a ‘blurt.’ Set a timer for thirty seconds. Then choose one of these sentences to complete from Martha Beck’s “Whizzing on the Electric Fence” exercise in Finding Your Own North Star:
If I didn’t care what people thought, I would _____________________________________________.
If I were sure I’d succeed, I’d __________________________________________________________.
If I had the nerve, I would ____________________________________________________________.
If I could be certain it was the right choice, I would ________________________________________.
If I weren’t worried about the future, I would ____________________________________________.
If I had the freedom, I would __________________________________________________________.
Try one each day for a couple of weeks, and see if a theme emerges.
In Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, she suggests creating a vision board that bypasses our standard left brain thinking. Choose several magazines, get a poster board, glue and scissors. Set a timer for twenty minutes and rip out any image that grabs you. Once the timer’s up, stop, grab your board, glue, and scissors. Then, set the timer again for twenty minutes and trim the images, arrange them on the board, and glue them. When you’re done, check out your completed vision board and see what types of dreams pop out at you.
At the opposite extreme are Square Two junkies. I find that they come in two varieties:
- You’ve taken every workshop on the planet, you’ve memorized the work of every self-help/spiritual writer currently popular, you can vision board in your sleep…but nothing changes. You, my friend, are a dream junkie. (I can call you out because I am too.)
- You know exactly what you want to do. You’ve dreamed it, and now you just need the additional bit of research to ensure that your plan is perfect. Once you have contacted the five experts who have done this previously, you can perfect your to-do list. You spend so much time on your plan that you never actually do anything. You’re a scheme junkie.
Square Two is so much fun for those of us who like the world of ideas, research, information and imagination; it’s like a playground we can stay in for years. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not going to stop taking workshops – I love them. And I’m not going to stop scheming either – all I’m saying is that getting stuck in either of these modes can hold us back from actually living the life we’re dreaming.
“Without action, without decision, you remain in possibility, which is safe and beautiful but eventually enervating and boring.” – Jennifer Louden
Help for Dream Junkies
I think for those of us that are dream junkies the fundamental fear is that we’re going to pick the wrong dream. Or that by committing to one dream, we’re limiting ourselves from all of the other dreams we have. It is the best way that I’ve found to feel like I’m moving towards my dreams while remaining completely stuck.
Let’s look at our example of the rejected suitor from earlier in this series. If she’s a dream junkie, she’d promptly enroll in several how-to-find love workshops, read dating advice books, scroll the web for dating coach blogs, and spend three months coming up with a list for the ideal partner.
Again, each of these things are fantastic…however she’s not actually doing anything that moves forward – none of these get her a plan of how to find love.
So if you’re a dream junkie, here’s the (painful! I know!) solution: pick one course of action and create a decent plan. Our example woman above might set a goal of going on six different dates over the next three months. Then she gets to work backwards from that goal as to how to make that happen.
Help for Scheme Junkies
I think for scheme junkies the illusion is that if we can plan everything perfectly, we can eliminate any risk. And planning and researching is so much fun! Again it feels like we’re actually doing something, when we know we’re not.
If our example woman from above was a scheme instead of dream junkie, she would spend months planning exactly how to find her ideal partner – the exact schedule, what she will be wearing, how many dates she will need to go on before she finds one hallway normal person. But she won’t actually do any of the steps, because the scheme is not yet perfect.
If you’re a scheme junkie, this is the (scary) solution: pick a date within the next two weeks and start. I know your plan is not perfect…but it never will be until you get real feedback which only comes from trying it out.
Next week we’re going to look at what comes after you enact your plan – the hero’s saga! In the meantime, leave a comment with what strategies have worked for you in navigating Square Two.