The “preparatory collection” is one of the processes that the mind employs to sort through the massive quantities of data that pour in on a regular basis and keep it manageable. It aids the brain’s ability to concentrate on things that are considered essential. You can “program” the process by writing down and making clear the goals you want to achieve. It focuses your attention to specific events and occurrences once programmed. To give you an example, when you decide you want a certain vehicle, you see it everywhere: on the highway, in advertisements, and in commercials. That’s how the preparatory collection works. You will naturally be more conscious of certain activities, opportunities, and people who can be helpful if you program it with your goals (visualizing in addition to writing is most effective). You’ll probably be more specific about what you want, which will show up in your conversations and general demeanor, which others will pick up on. If you believe, as I do, that the mind is a marvel in and of itself, it’s not really magic.
For example, to make it simple to incorporate easy exercise into your life, write down your goal (I will walk an extra half hour a day) and visualize yourself walking and enjoying it: maybe you imagine parking a few blocks away (where it is cheaper) and walking the rest of the way, or getting off the bus or subway one stop early, or walking to the nearby restaurant for lunch, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. If you visualize yourself walking and enjoying it, you’ll soon discover new and different ways to walk more without feeling stressed.
You can build a “road map” for yourself as soon as you have a target.
Creating a visual image of your goals will help you accomplish many things: To begin with, the process will force you to be more precise and straightforward about what you want. Second, devoting the time and effort to build it sends a strong message to yourself that you are serious about achieving your goal. It establishes a goal. Third, if you keep it visible, it will serve as a powerful reminder of your goals for your own life.
Your visual road map is divided into two sections: a view of your destination and a map of how to get there.
Exercise 1: Visualizing Your Destination
This is a visual illustration of your perfect life that you can use to remind and inspire yourself for the next few years, so treat it as the essential project that it is. You should be able to see each of your goals reflected clearly in your finished frame.
1. Gather the things you’ll need to create a collage you can write on, including a big sheet of paper and colored markers, pens, paints, pastels, or other art supplies; many magazines with pictures and ads that you can cut out, paste, or use a glue stick to adhere to; and several photographs of yourself and people in your life. If you enjoy drawing, you may want to forego the magazine pictures in favor of creating your own. If you’re a tech whiz, you may be able to accomplish this by computer art. Strong artifacts, bits of fabric or jewelry, tokens and keepsakes that are precious to you may also be included. Keep in mind that vivid, graphic images are strong subconscious stimulants, and the purpose of this exercise is to direct your subconscious attention to your goals and dreams.
2. Make parts for your personal life, your company or job, your family life, your friends, and your spare time on your paper.
3. Give each section a title and consider what you would like to put in that section if you could build your own life.
4. Start with the segment about your personal life, and consider what activities reflect the private, personal side of your life, as well as the photos that represent you. Begin with a photograph of yourself as you are or as you wish to be (in a graduation gown, wedding clothing, thinner, successful, you can paste a small picture of your head or face on a magazine picture if you wish). Do you have any hobbies or skills that you value? What photos give you a positive feeling about yourself? To represent yourself, what symbols will you use? What do you like to use as a symbol for your physical well-being? What makes you happy? What makes you so determined? Select one or two photos to reflect the different ways in which you identify: Hobbies, spirituality, relaxation, exercise, working, parenting, and having fun are all things that I enjoy.
5. Now look for photos of concrete things or objectives that will complete the personal portion of your road map, such as your house, vehicle, clothes, travel, pets, personal development goals, and any other significant factors that reflect your personal life.
6. Arrange these photos in your collage’s personal section in a way that you like, or draw representations of the things that are relevant to you. Make sure your preferred portrait of yourself is prominently displayed in this section. Arrange, rearrange, and change your photo set until you’re satisfied with the final product.
7. Now, in a similar manner, complete the remaining parts of your results image. Since you will be directly interested in each group, certain elements will most likely be replicated from the personal portion. Create a new version of your idealized self for each section, or use black-and-white or color photocopies of your original image in each section.
When you’ve finished arranging your frame, take a step back and examine it to see if it accurately represents your ideal life. If not, continue to experiment with it. If that’s the case, copy or save the items and keep the collage somewhere you’ll see it frequently. This image just needs to reflect your vision as you currently see it; as your expectations evolve and shift, you can change, add to, or create a new one.
Exercise 2: Constructing Your Road Map
You’ll find that by concentrating on nuances and facts, you’ve explained your image until you’ve invested the requisite time and energy into picturing your destination. Most people who have been through this phase in workshops and classes say their vision has made them feel more inspired, clearer, and energized. Use the energy now to build your road map, a strategy for getting you to your destination.
1. On a separate piece of paper or artboard, write “Where I am Now” on the left side of the roadmap. In all of the areas outlined on your destination image, place enough symbols, words, or numbers to show where you are now.
2. Write “My Destination” on the right side of the paper or artboard and arrange similar symbols, sentences, or numbers to show where you will be when you achieve your goals.
3. Divide the space in between into columns, and write down the steps you’ll need to take to get from where you are now to where you want to go in those columns. Consider the following scenario: In the workplace, the steps could be: 1) finish school, 2) look for a job. 3) Advance your career by gaining new skills, experience, and expertise; and 4) advance your career. (As you approach each section of the Roadmap and need to achieve clear targets, each of these steps can be broken down into smaller steps.)
Use your road map on a daily basis.
Once you’ve finished your destination picture and road map, use them on a regular basis to stay motivated and focused on your goals. Keep them in a convenient location where you can check them regularly and make changes and updates as needed. It would be much easier to achieve your goals and dreams if you have a good vision of them in front of you.
From now on, you can base all of your decisions on your road map. Your options will become easier and more direct if you approach each subsequent decision in terms of whether it will get you closer to your target or not.
Using your destination picture and road map to set goals and stay focused will help you balance all of the important aspects of your life and shape your future. Knowing where you want to go and how to get there will help you to stress less and feel less indecisive and confused.