Martha Beck's 7 Steps to Creating the Life You Really Want
At every turn, Odysseus's travels were filled with surprises. He conquered monsters at sea only to find worse ones waiting on land. He encountered seductions that sent him half mad with longing. Finally, in the Land of the Dead, he got clear directions from a seer who, oxymoronically enough, was blind.
Does this ring any bells for you? Maybe you, too, feel stranded in your life, awash in a turbulent sea, or lured by the Siren song of a terrifying love. Or maybe you just hope to experience Winnipeg someday, if only for a long weekend. Fortunately, you have your own internal "blind seer". It can feel its way into the future and draw you a map. I mean literally. Our project today is to help you create a map of your own epic tomorrows—a magically morphing guide that will get more detailed and accurate as you travel.
The Sea of Life
I've created many life maps in my time, and they all assumed one thing: The journey was over land, with things pretty much staying where you put them. These days, however, almost every life requires a sea map. The pace of change in our world has become so rapid that everything—every job, every family, every possibility—is constantly shifting like water. Maps are even more necessary at sea than on land, so it's time you had one. To get started, you'll need a computer and printer (if you like computers), magazines that appeal to you, photos from your private collection, a roll of butcher paper or a clean stretch of wall to use as the backdrop for your map, and some kindergarten tools (paper, scissors, markers, tape). Got all that? Good.
Step 1: Make an Ideal Island
Your first job is to create your own Ithaca, your dreamed-of destination, your ideal future. Since your internal blind seer thinks in pictures, not words, you'll be making a vision board: a collage of images that appeal to you. You can cut pictures from magazines and glue them to a sheet of paper. You can also go to oprah.com/dreamboard, where you'll find an elegant and user-friendly vision board tool . Either way, the process is simple—find appealing images and put them together. Always choose pictures that are viscerally pleasing, images that make you respond with wordless sounds: "Oooh!" "Aaah!" "Mmm!"
The vision of your ideal life doesn't have to look possible, just delicious. When your collage feels delectable enough—aim for about a dozen images—put it on the far right side of your long stretch of butcher paper or wall (obviously, if you're using a computer, you'll have to print your vision board). Label your collage Ideal Island. This is where most vision board exercises end. But we're just getting started.
Step 2: Make an Island of Experience
The most useful maps have an accurate point that says YOU ARE HERE, so your next step is to make a collage of your life as it is now. Think through a typical day. What do you do from dawn to dusk? How does your body look and feel? What are your relationships like? Find images or words that illustrate each. And be honest. Include the chocolate addiction, the clutter, the heartbreak, everything. Then tack this collage to the far left side of your butcher paper or wall. Label it Island of Experience.
You've now created two collages: one depicting what you want to be and do and have, and one depicting what you're currently being and doing and having. Next up: mapping the islands you must visit while journeying from one to the other.
Next: How to map your islands of enhancement