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Suzanne Falter-Barns

Spring Cleaning for Your Dreams
by Suzanne Falter-Barns

Got dreams? Spring is a time that’s fairly crackling with possibilities for forging ahead. But how can you effectively harness all that energy, and turn it into actions that really move you forward?

I say have a "Clean Start Planning Retreat." This is a technique I've been using for several years that really helps focus and ground your actions. And even though it may be brown and muddy outside (if you’re in New England) … you can still rise up and harness the abundant energy in the rebirth of spring.

Living Your Joy by Suzanne Falter-Barns

1. Schedule two full days in which you can do something just for you.

Begin by scheduling in at least two full days sometime before spring really kicks in that you can designate "Clean Start Days." You can schedule them together, or separately. Saturdays can work well for this. (If you tend to be a guilty parent, use this as a chance for someone else who loves your kids to spend the day with them.)

2. Record your results for the last year or quarter.

Day One is dedicated to assessing what progress you’ve made on your dreams. It may be that you’re just beginning your dream, and have few or possibly no ‘tangible’ records of progress yet. Take a look through journals, and notebooks from classes or programs.

On the other hand, you may be launching a business, or just starting to sell your work. If so through ledgers, stat reports on web sites, check book registers, receipt piles, Quicken files, sent email files, even phone bills. Compare what you unearth to any goals you made for the last year. It doesn’t matter how much time you span – use your intuition on which parameters to use.

Wherever you are with your dream, write up a report that addresses these essential categories. (It’s okay to write, ‘None yet,’ in many categories if that’s where you are … this gives you room to grow, right?)

  • Products/Services produced
  • Marketing efforts (be sure to log in their effectiveness)
  • People reached (and which target markets they come from, if you can)
  • Income
  • Expenses
  • Support System (include staff, temp help, consultants, support group)
  • Office (assess the effectiveness of your workspace and its equipment)
  • Inspirational Tools (note any sources of stimulation or ideas that have worked well for you, or what you might need in this area)
  • Mistakes Made
  • Lessons Learned
  • Ideas Hatched
  • Old Projects Retired
  • Reviews/Critiques/Feedback (assess overall reaction on each product or service)
  • General Risk Assessment (did you take enough? Wish you took more?)

3. Pick a really appealing location for Day Two. (You might even bring a supportive friend.)

Once you've got your report in hand, move on to day two. It's critically important you not do this work in your home or office. Instead, go into a new environment that gives you a blast of inspiration. Choose a place that naturally nurtures you. It doesn't have to be an expensive resort. My husband and I sometimes spend the day sitting in front of the fireplace of a nearby country inn, where we also eat lunch. Think of weekend getaways belonging to friends, your favorite beach, a string of cool coffee bars and restaurants. You might even consider doing this work with a friend and splitting the cost of a room at a hotel or resort for a night or two. Pick places that are fun to be in, but also provide a spot to get comfortable and talk quietly.

If you do choose to bring along a friend, make sure it's a staunch supporter. You want to share your dreams and visions with someone who won't take too much delight in 'playing devil's advocate'. Nor do you want to bring along a mindless yes-person who will ooh and aah over your worst ideas. You want someone who can help you see the gaps in last year’s systems, and help you to reach for your biggest and best, as well. You also want to be available to support that person’s goal’s, too. This way, you can become yearlong support buddies to each other, which always helps.

Also, if you bring a friend, take turns briefly sharing last year’s progress reports that you created in Day One, so he or she has a point of reference.

Of course, many of us prefer to do this sort of planning alone, and that’s just fine, too!

4. Spend Day Two imagining the year you really want.

It's this simple: bring lots of paper, sit back and dream. That's why a nice, nurturing environment is so important -- because it's hard to think big if you're looking at a kitchen full of dirty dishes.

  • Set concrete goals in all the following areas that speak to you, plus any others you can think of.
  • Products Produced/Services Rendered
  • People reached (how many and whom)
  • Overall Results
  • Emotional being/Level of personal satisfaction
  • Publicity/Promotion
  • Financial
  • Work environment
  • Support Staff
  • Sources of Inspiration

Really blue sky this ... (and feel free to add any other categories you can think of.) And while you're at it, listen to your gut. That's the beauty of taking the time to do this -- it finally gives you time to hear what you're intuition wants to tell you about your dream.

Also, be careful to be specific with your goals. Don't wish to "make lots of money." Give it a dollar amount. Don’t write down "I’m generally happy," under the heading, Emotional being -- write down, "I’m happy and satisfied with the knowledge that I’m helping people achieve …" or whatever it is that resonates for you.

How Much Joy Can You Stand? by Suzanne Falter-Barns

Also, don't write down things you think you should want, but in your heart, you're not so sure about. If you think being on Oprah would be a good idea, but you have this vague feeling that it might be overwhelming, don't write it down. You won’t be able to manifest it anyway, probably, since manifesting is a gut-based process. Instead, pick the goal that seems really right -- maybe appear on a local cable show or do some radio.

Finally, you want to imagine goals that align with your soul purpose in life – that unique gift that you are meant to give to others. Let this be like a great guiding umbrella that informs your choices. (For more information about your soul purpose in life, check out my Discover Your Soul Purpose CD at http://www.howmuchjoy.com/soulpurpose.html

5. Divide your goal list into business quarters.

To further treat your visions and goals effectively, break them down by quarters, like businesses do that end on April 1, June 1, September 1 and January 1. Figure out what you can reasonably expect to get done by quarterly dates, (a support buddy can be a great help with this.) You can even write down a specific list of actions for the first quarter, and leave the remaining three rather vague. That's okay. Just tighten them up as you progress through the year. Then you can have a little burst of energy at the beginning of each quarter, as you slice, dice, reassess and rearrange your goals.

Now you're all set to have a magnificent year! Congratulations!

© Copyright 2005 Suzanne Falter-Barns  All Rights Reserved. 

Suzanne Falter-Barns
Suzanne Falter-Barns is the author of the new book, Living Your Joy: A Practical Guide to Happiness (Ballantine) and How Much Joy Can You Stand? A Creative Guide To Facing Your Fears and Making Your Dreams Come True (Ballantine Wellspring).




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