Have you heard someone say that life is a journey, not a destination? It sounds good, which is probably why the proverb stuck around for at least the last century. Ralph Waldo Emerson sometimes gets credit for the quote, but a more likely source was parents hearing their young fellow travelers repeatedly ask from the passenger seat "are we almost there yet?"
There is virtue in being thankful for what we have but, on this trip of life, getting too content with our seating arrangements or the passing view through our window may not inspire us to reach our potential or awaken our sense of purpose. Too much satisfaction quiets dreams and makes us lazy.
In his second series of essays published in 1845 Emerson wrote about the journey and the destination, tying them together. "To finish the moment, to find the journey's end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom." In other words, to live well is to have our dreams in mind as we move along in life. This is powerful wisdom. To understand how powerful, we can look at what motivates people.
Big advertising agencies know human dreams that include happiness, security, strength, success, satisfaction, prosperity, peace, fun, health, and hope are what motivate us to act. Advertisers link a product to our dreams in order to move us to buy. Effective advertising sells dreams, not things.
Advertisers bring our imaginations to an amazing place where we feel good, then they tell us how to get there for real (if we act now for today's low, one-time price, while supplies last). Buying their product, we are to imagine, is the vehicle on our highway to bliss.
Whether changing our diet, exercising more, or getting more sleep, many folks become bored with their new plan faster than kids in a cross-country car ride. Why? We too often focus on the steps without remembering our dream. What if we turned that goal into a personal advertising campaign?
Is there a change in your life that is a struggle to make? Here are five steps to supercharge your success:
Decide what most appeals to you about a change you want to make. For example, eating better and getting more exercise each day in order to feel strong and healthy enough to do what you want to do without being tired.
Picture living the future with your dream of being healthy. Make it vivid. What are you doing, seeing, and feeling? Make your dream the best thing since bananas came to grocery stores.
List the steps to take you there. For example, eat five servings of fruit a day; walk 30 minutes every day before dinner.
Imagine yourself at each step in the future living the dream.
Repeat daily or more often, just like advertisers do.
Enjoy your trip, and always remember the destination.
Editor's note: Brian D. Rendel, MA LLP LPC NCC is a professional counselor and a training and prevention specialist at Copper Country Mental Health Institute in Houghton.