Your Dream Memory Ratio

I just finished reading The World is Flat, by Thomas L Friedman. Most of the book is about the global economy and the shrinking and leveling of the playing field. What struck me most, at the very end of the book, was this quote:

Analysts have always tended to measure a society by classical economic and social statistics...Such statistics are important and revealing. But there is another statistic, much harder to measure, that I think is even more important and revealing. Does your society have more memories than dreams or more dreams than memories?

Friedman then quotes business guru Michael Hammer who said:"One thing that tells me a company is in trouble is when they tell me how good they were in the past. Same with countries. When memories exceed dreams, the end is near."

And the same is true of people.

Do You Have More Dreams or More Memories?

Go to any high school reunion and you'll find people who are still reminiscing about their triumphs in sports, sex or scholarship. Still others regret choices they made or didn't make. And you'll find people running their own business or guiding major corporations who are dreaming the future.

Memories and regrets focus on past successes and failures.

Dreams focus on future possibilities and desires.

Where are you putting your attention? Past or Future?

When Greg Engel and I created The Motivation Profile, Greg's wife started using it in her therapy practice. She found that people who were suicidal were focused on moving away from an unpleasant past. They felt that the future would just be a projection of that unpleasant past. To help them move beyond their suicidal thoughts, she helped them dream up a desirable future. Once they had something to move toward, they improved rapidly.

Dreaming the Future

Alan Kay, one of the architects of personal computing, once said: The best way to predict the future is to invent it. It takes imagination to conceive and create something that doesn't yet exist. But it's not that hard.

Many years ago, I started dreaming of owning a home in Hawaii. I knew that it would be close to the ocean and a beautiful beach perfect for long walks. I could hear the wind in the palm trees and smell the fragrance of flowers. I could taste the freshly broiled Mahi Mahi and succulent pineapple. In other words, I knew in my mind's eye what I wanted and what it would look, sound, feel, smell and taste like long before I had it.

First, however, I had to pay off our house in Colorado. I made extra payments every year to pay it off more quickly. Then I had to save money for a down payment. Then, after 9/11, real estate in Hawaii went flat and interest rates came down to a 40 year low. A unit became available at our favorite Hawaii destination, Maui Kaanapali Villas, a condo hotel right on Kaanapali Beach. I applied for a mortgage online and got approved immediately. It took over a decade to convert my dream into reality, but it happened.

Hold The Dream

When I talk to people about Effortless Achievement (Dreaming things into being), they often tell me stories of how they had a dream of a relationship, a job, a home or whatever, but it didn't arrive quickly enough so they scaled back their dream.

Big mistake. Hold the dream in its entirety. Another business guru, Jim Collins, says to create BHAGs: Big Hairy Audacious Goals. The bigger the dream, the more creative tension exists between where you are and where you want to be. Insights arrive to help you cross the chasm to the new reality.

Keep it fresh in your mind. Cut a picture out of a magazine that encapsulates your dream and put it in your wallet or purse.

Repeat the Dream

I used to teach classes on attracting romance: finding your ideal relationship. Everyone has a love map of who they want inside their head. The trick is to get it out and enhance and enrich it until it's really desirable. Then all you have to do is revisit it often. What does it look, sound, feel, smell and taste like to have this relationship?

Repetition drives the dream into your subconscious and your subconscious will convert the dream into actions and insights that will pull you toward that dream. The people in my classes who revisited the future they desired ended up meeting Mr. or Ms. Right in about six months.

Cancel the Dream

I don't know about you, but I grew up in a house where my mother was afraid that I'd injure myself in some way and that she'd be somehow responsible if I did. I heard: "Don't touch that stove. Don't stick that in that outlet. Don't go out without a jacket."

I learned everything not to do. I became an expert at identifying all of the ways something can go wrong. But this can be a form of dreaming as well.

A couple of weeks ago, I went into Starbucks for a cup of coffee. I sprinkled powdered chocolate on my coffee and suddenly started thinking: "What if the cap were loose? It might fall into my coffee or I might drop the shaker." I kept thinking about this every so often (repetition). Then last weekend I went into my neighborhood Starbucks, got a coffee and went to sprinkle chocolate on my drink. I picked up the chocolate shaker by the top and started to lift it. The bottle came loose from the top and I reached to grab it, but only succeeded in knocking my coffee onto the floor. The bottle fell into the trash, but not before making a terrible mess on the counter.

I tell you this story because you can dream really bad or stupid stuff and make it happen just as easily as you can manifest good stuff. I forgot one of the basic rules of dreaming:

If you imagine doing something stupid, bad, wrong, or unpleasant, just say, inside your mind: "Cancel, Cancel" so that your subconscious will ignore it.

The Dream-Memory Ratio

For those of you who love formulas, I offer the dream memory ratio:

Success Indicator = Dreams/Memories

If your dreams exceed your memories, then your success indicator will be greater than 1. If your memories exceed your dreams, the indicator will be less than 1. To feel successful and fulfilled, you will want to spend more time on creating the future and less on remembering the past.

Here's My Point

You are responsible for creating the future. If you're stuck remembering past glories or regretting past choices, you cannot create a future other than an instant replay of the past. You will want to shift your attention toward what you want to create in your job, your relationships and your life.

That's why I wrote the book: Debug Your Mental Software. Most people will need to erase, revise and resolve the traumas and conflicts from their past before they will be free to turn their attention to the future.

Remember: When You Change Your Mind, You Change Your Life.

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