2022 December 20 Envision your future (and survive the holidays!)

Dec 20, 2022

Hi, this is Jim Cranston from 7EveryMinute and 7EveryMinute.com, the podcast and website by, for, and about Baby Boomers. Thanks for joining me tonight to prepare for the Christmas weekend and starting to envision our future. It’s a much more fun topic, because then everything is open to you. So let's get started. 


If you like what you hear tonight, please leave a Like, hit that bell, and tell your friends to take a listen. So the Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas season is upon us, closely followed by New Year's. It seems like there's just no escape from people giving you good wishes and everybody expecting you to do and go somewhere for the holidays.


It’s like Thanksgiving, only you have to bring more gifts. Just like Thanksgiving, remember that we can still control, to some degree, our response to the world and the people around us. We talked about this at Thanksgiving, and some other holidays last year as well.


Remember that you don't have to do anything, eat anything, drink anything, smoke anything that you don't want to. No, you don't have to explain yourself. A simple, Oh no thank you, is totally sufficient. If someone is insistent, just start talking like they change the subject. I know, I don't like tomato juice either! and walk away. You're in charge of your own body. Don't let somebody else try and force something upon you. You don't have to stay in an uncomfortable situation. If you don't like the conversation, you can either try and change it, move to a different location, or pick a different topic or activity. 


You never have to feel threatened. If you do, you can just quietly leave at the first opportunity, and call someone to the gathering and say you had to leave unexpectedly. You don't have to explain yourself. For all the holidays, this is a season of joy. If someone starts talking trash or just a fool, there's a little point in arguing. Just ignore them. Move to your own agenda and do it with kindness. It's often difficult to find the good things because there's so much going on all at once. So step back, take it all in from a distance, and then discover something good going on that you can join in.


Maybe it's someone talking about a topic that you really enjoy, helping to cook - whatever it is, focus on that and not all the other noise. Finally, be kind to yourself. If you decide you just want to leave, then celebrate that you showed up at all and maybe met someone nice. Remember to celebrate every win, no matter how small, because many small wins can lead to big changes in our lives.


Hopefully those tips help you get through any gatherings or parties you may find yourself at. I hope it lets you enjoy the true, joyful spirit of the season. While it's okay to not go out at all, I'd really encourage you to make sure that that's a conscious decision that you're making and not your brain trying to keep you safe from an unfamiliar situation.


Remember, growth usually happens outside our comfort zone, and if we want to grow our lives, then we most likely have to make some changes. Change is always a little scary to our brain, which leads us right into our next topic: how to make change less scary. That sounds pretty useful. We're going to talk about this one again next week because it has a lot of components, but we can start explaining it a little bit by remembering how, when you're a child (or maybe you still do cheat a little bit), how you do a maze puzzle. You start at the end and then go back to the beginning. For a variety of reasons, for most of us, our brains work amazingly better by solving problems, by starting at the solution and then working backwards from it. We can use that exact same trick when we're setting our goals and trying to make changes in our lives when we're normally taught how to decide what we wanna accomplish.


We're taught to make a goal and then brainstorm all the steps we'll need to get it done. Then step through them one by one. For most of us, that means we immediately come up with about 10,000 things that could go wrong or reasons it won't work, and we often talk ourselves out of even starting. That's really a shame. 


For example, let's say our goal is to go to Europe, or even better, let's be very specific. We want to go to the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, Spain. I bet you already have some reasons why you can't that are very rational. It's very effective and your mind is very effective at keeping you safe.


You might be saying things like, I'm not even sure where Barcelona is in Spain. I don't speak Spanish. What's the exchange rate? Is covid still bad in Europe? You're coming up with all these reasons. Your mind is keeping you safe - which is a really good thing. 


Now the trick is to really start to visualize. This will just be a quick tour of the process. So let's start to visualize the Sagrada Familia, get some pictures and put them on a piece of poster board. Read about the history, clip it out. Put that on your vision board, too. Whoa. Vision board. Where did that come from? What you're doing is you're making up an environment that you can look at and totally envision what you are trying to do so that your brain begins to get used to the idea of being inside this magnificent building.


Imagine the sounds, the smells. See what the trees are nearby, and get pictures of them. Are there some nice nice coffee shops in the area? Imagine what it smells like. See the color of the building. See the color of the sun setting inside the Basilica. This is just spectacular. A friend of mine was there this year actually, and his picture puts this one a shame. The colors at sunset are just mind boggling. Beautiful. Do all these things, and imagine what it's like to be there in all the detail and then start working backwards. You're there in the cathedral and now you're going back to the hotel. 


Well, wait, I got a hotel. Who's with me? Of course, my friends who like to travel with me. Oh, and my brother-in-law came too, because he speaks Spanish fluently. Suddenly as your brain gets more comfortable with the reality of being there, even though the reality is created right now in our vision board and in our heads, it'll start making the connections to find possibilities to make things happen.


That's the magic of having a vision board and really envisioning something you want to do. It gives your brain a target, and your brain is really good, once it knows what the target is, of figuring out how to get you there.

Just like that, just like the children's maze, when you start working backwards, your brain will find the path to make all your plans become reality. Why does it work better starting at the end than starting at the beginning? Why does it work better going backwards?


I think it's because now it's going from one good situation, because you had all these pictures, you had all these things to imagine. It's like, Wow, that's a pretty neat place. You're returning to a known good situation, back to your home and to things that are familiar. It doesn't have to try and keep you safe during all this.


Now it's free to concentrate on solving all the little problems. Also, since you've given it all this relevant material to work with, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the people, the food, the incense, the languages, everything, now your brain can safely work through all the logistics from a safe distance and find solutions that you are comfortable with.


We're running out of time tonight, but I did want to start on this whole process. If you go through it a couple times, it's really fascinating how - and this is all part and parcel of the same thing - when you think about something before you go to sleep, when you wake up you have a solution. It's the same idea.


You're giving a goal to your brain and then giving your brain some space to go work on it.  It works amazingly well. I encourage you to at least to take something that you wanted to do but seemed impossible - not something that's truly impossible, like, I'm going to walk to Mars but something that seemed overwhelming, like a trip or paying off a debt, or planting flowers around your house - anything that you wanted to do but didn't know where to start. Then turn it around and start at the end, at the goal. Imagine the flowers in the window boxes, or hiking in Peru, or getting a credit card statement with a zero balance.


Then really imagine it in every detail, what it feels like to have accomplished something you really wanted. What people are saying, what the sounds are, the smells, the sights, holding something from there in your hands. Then make a vision board to help you keep that vision in your head, and look at it at least every day or a couple times a day. Or even a lot more often!


Then, and only then, start brainstorming about how you just completed that previous step. How you paid for the hotel. Maybe with points from that travel credit card you found with money from that part-time job. Your brain will find ways to make your dreams come true.


We'll talk more about it after Christmas, but I would encourage you to start now, by picking a SMART goal. Remember: a specific goal with a timeline and an outcome that you can measure. Envision it, capture that vision on the vision board, and then jot me a line as to what you'd like to accomplish, and we'll work on it together.


We'll be talking more about this also in the upcoming course. See Your Future Transformed, that is starting in January, and that covers the whole process in a lot more detail. Next week, we'll go through some more steps and help you get a good start on it. You can do it for little things, do it for big things. I think you'll be amazed at how much you can get done. 


That's it for the evening. Please remember the war in the Ukraine. If you're able and you're interested, there are links to various donation places at UKR7.com. World Central Kitchen is still actively handing out meals in Ukraine. WCK.org. Remember, it's winter there, just like it's winter here in the Northeast. It’s bad and getting worse.


So if you can and you're able, please make a donation. If you don't feel comfortable donating to some of the other organizations, World Central Kitchen is well regarded. They've worked in many, many disaster situations, and this is the first time they've worked in an active war zone. They can certainly use your help, and the people of Ukraine can certainly use your help.


Remember, one of the best ways to care for yourself is to care for others. Thank you for stopping by. If you found something interesting or useful, please pass it along and please hit that Like button. If not, please drop me a comment as to what you'd like to hear.


Have a great weekend, and remember the holiday season, whether it's Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any of the other many festivities that occur during this time of the year. Remember to live the life that you dreamed of, because that's the path to true contentment. Love and encouragement to everyone. See you next week on 7EveryMinute and 7EveryMinute.com. Thank you so much.


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