Okay. Let’s give another round of applause to you. Come on. Don’t be shy. You’re here. You’ve made it. The very fact that you are sitting here is solid tangible proof that you’ve given your life a good hard look and said to yourself, “Hey, it’s time to kick it up a notch.” Either that or a friend dragged you…or maybe you just wanted to try some of these sick snacks that will be provided at intermission. Either way, you’re here and I have made it my sole mission to give you some cool tools to improve your world the SECOND you step out of that door [time of day]. Now I wish I could tell you that this was the easy part. You came. You listened. You leave a beautiful butterfly. We wish, right? The road to substantial change is a rough one, filled with more frustrations…and more highs than settling could ever give you. But if you stick with it, the end result will be…wow.
I like to start off with some conversation. An ice breaker, if you will. Something simple to loosen us up and to help us realize that, [time of day], we are all here united. We are an unstoppable force, moving fearlessly toward a single goal: more. Okay. I’m going to ask you guys a question. Raise your hand if you care to answer out loud. And for every answer you give the rest of us are going to cheer like our favorite team just won the superbowl and our best friend scored the winning point. Okay. Here’s the first question: What do you want?
[question answer session]
Next question: What is standing in your way?
[question answer session]
This is the last one: When, in your current life, do you feel you’re at your best?
[question answer session]
Awesome. You guys are amazing me already. Thank you so much. One more round of applause for those brave souls putting themselves out there like that.
Okay. “What do I want?” I always smile at the amount of people who answer, “I have no idea.” They know. I ran around, aimlessly getting myself involved in this and that, completely sure that I didn’t know. I knew. I’ve found that “I don’t know what I want” is code language for “I know EXACTLY what I want but the thought of going after it is so overwhelming or so terrifying that I have tricked myself into thinking it’s not really for me at all…or isn’t even worth trying.” Fear, right? Scary stuff. Fear. That invasive force of inner self that can take YEARS of living off of the human life. Fear, the number one cause of failure. The greatest supporter of inaction. If you have a choice between a relationship that survive anything and a relationship that crumbles, which do you choose? [audience answers “works”] If you have a choice between your dream job and one that feels like it’s draining a little bit of your soul every day? [audience answers “dream job”] When you have the choice of ruling with courage or being ruled by fear, which do you choose? It’s an easy answer, right? It’s a no-brainer, but why do so many of us constantly choose fear when courage is the alternative?
I bet that there is very little fear involved today when you’re engaging in those things that you said make you feel like you’re at your best. But how about when you were just beginning? [give examples from an audience answer to the third question] Those first steps are terrifying. In love. In having children. In starting a new career or hobby. Heck, maybe they’re still a little freaky at times but you’ve become stronger than your fear. I find that most of the greatest things that come to us are the ones that are preceded with an irrational fear. I’d even go as far to say that irrational fear can sometimes be the best determinate of how much you want something.
Now notice I’m talking irrational fears here. If a tiger is charging for you that is not the time to stick around and see what happens.
A few years ago I wanted to move to New York City from my small town in Pennsylvania and the second an opportunity arose a BILLION horrified voices started ringing in my head. It’s expensive! You don’t have a job! You’ll be all alone! Homeless people are crazy! What if you don’t make it?! Ha. Only one way to find out. I moved up there and have lived there ever since and couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. A few years before that, when I was a wee little lad graduating from high school, I attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for animation. Ever since I was two, I drew pictures. I was pretty good. My dream was to work for Disney or Nickelodeon and everything would be perfect. I thought, “I’m afraid to be so far from home!” “”I’m going to miss being near my friends!” “What if I don’t make any friends?” “What if I’m not good enough?” Naturally, it was the stuff I didn’t freak myself out about that got me in the end. First of all, I was 18 and had a 36 year old roommate. That was fun. Secondly, after a whole short life of eating, drinking and breathing cartoons, I learned that the animation industry was not for me. Out of all the things I was unsure of, that’s the one thing I knew I wanted…and it wasn’t. And this, above all other reasons, is why we try. We try…so we can know. Who we are. What we want. If we want what we think we want. Picture being the person who is so sure that he wanted to be a dancer…but never tried once…died, never trying once. Now picture the person who is so sure he wanted to be a dancer…went to dance school and hated it. But in trying he learned something about himself. One door closes. A million more possibilities open. While at dance school he realizes that it’s not so much the movement, but the music that he enjoys so he picks up a violin and becomes a music major, satisfied. Fear of failure is almost entirely unjustified because if you try, there is no failure. Only growth and a clearer perception of what it is you want to be.
Having gotten us all through that beautiful disclaimer let’s get to it. The same of this seminar is “Becoming Your Ideal Self” and that’s what we’re gonna move a little closer to doing. Like I said, behind all the apprehension, we all know what we want. We all have a pretty good idea what this ideal self is…so, it’s time to say hello…
I’m going to need you guys to close your eyes. Don’t by shy. We’re all brothers and sisters of change here. Okay. I want you to picture your ideal self. I want you to image them into existence right here, right now. Make them as real as you are. Are they thinner? Are they happier? Do they have a better job? A new puppy? A more fulfilling social circle? A really sweet dragon tattoo on their left arm? Do they keep calm in stressful situations? Are they the voice of reason that everyone turns to? Are they madly in love? Do their words inspire people do to great things? o they do great things? Are they ruled by fear? Are they ruled by others? Do they go to bed every night with an emptiness inside of them? Do you? Eyes still closed, I want you to look into the eyes of your ideal self. Take in their body, their face, the way they dress and smile and stand…and, on the count of three, I want you to say “hello.” One. Two. Three.
[audience says “hello”]
t your ideal self? What do you admire the most about them? Why is it so admirable? What do they think of you? What do you have that they do not? What does your ideal self have that you do not? How did they get it?
Excellent. Let’s have one more good look at our ideal self. Picture them as real as can be and look straight into their eyes. I’m going to tell you something and I need you to listen because this is the most important thing I will say tonight. This person you’re gazing at. This culmination of all of your hopes and dreams and none of your fears and challenges…this is not some other person. This is not some unreachable figment of your imagination. This is you. You are looking at yourself and there is NOTHING in this person that you cannot become. You are your ideal self. It’s merely a matter of unlocking what’s been in there all along.
Alright, open your eyes and repeat after me.
I am my idea self.
I am my ideal self!
I AM MY IDEAL SELF!
Congratulations. I can feel keys turning and doors opening already. Let’s find some more brave souls… Who would like to share their experience with their ideal self? How does the thought of them make you feel? Enlightening? Weird? Overwhelming?
It’s a funny thing we do,as people, with big ideas sometimes. When we have a dream or an idea that is so different than our current status quo we tend to separate it from ourselves. For example, I always wanted to be interviewed on a late night talk show. So I would imagine what it would be like. Sometimes I’d be in my room or in the shower pretending I was being asked questions by Letterman and Leno, answering accordingly. But even though that guy sitting in the chair in my head looked like me and talked like me, I had established him as “celebrity Trystin”, an entirely different person than “normal Trystin”, the guy who talked to himself in the shower. And by separating myself from my dream self I instantly created a wall between the two. He’s the one that made it. I’m the one that doesn’t. That’s what we do when we fantastize. We take energy that could be spent bettering ourselves and instead waste it on building pretty pictures in our heads. This is why accepting that “you ARE your ideal self” is so crucial.
Think about when yourselves were a kid. In middle school or high school. How you dressed. What you thought. The sorts of…trouble you got into. Talk about being a different person, right? Sometimes it feels like the “me” of the past was an entirely different creature from the “me” of the present. Obviously, though, we’re the same. The Trystin that thought giant sweatshirts with Looney Tunes printed on them was the highest form of fashion and bought Happy Meals for the prize inside WAY beyond the recommended age is the same Trystin that is talking to you right now. The relationship between child you and now-you is as real as the relationship between who you are now and who you want to…scratch that…who you WILL become. Got me?
Let’s do a quick review and then we’ll get to the good stuff. I know, I know, you thought that other stuff was the good stuff. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, guys. First off: Face your fears. You know what you want so accept it and let the confidence of accepting it help you conquer your fears and give it a try. Secondly:Trying is a coin flip with no losing side: Failure and success are two sides of the same coin and both lead to growth, change and a better picture of who you are. And third: You ARE your ideal self. Let’s give ourselves a hand, just because we’re awesome.
So we’ve tackled the what: Conquering fears, taking action a.k.a. trying and becoming your ideal self. Consequently, we also know the who: You. The time has come for the “How”. How, Trystin, how do we go about this Extreme Self Makeover once our time together is just a memory and we’re out on our own? The answer: Do it. [pretends to leave] I’m Trystin Bailey. Thank you for your time and have a good [time of day]. Haha, kidding. Let’s go back to the beginning of this party and think about why you’re here. Unless you’re one of those people who came merely to accompany a friend or for my precious snacks. YOU guys have heard enough of this. I want all of you to think of that big looming thing that you’re missing. It could be something that exists in your life now, but you want it to go away. Something that exists but you wish it would become better…or would be replaced with something better. Or something that isn’t there at all that you feel should be. What is that giant something …love, career, family, friendship, hobby, philosophy …that, if fulfilled would give you one GREAT leap toward your ideal self? Everybody have it? Are you grasping it firmly in your hands? Excellent. Now let’s take out our magnifying glasses and spiffy detective’s hats and inspect this thing.
WHY is this so important to you? Of all the pieces of your life why is THIS something that needs to be dealt with? I’m going to add that this should not be that difficult of a question to answer. It also doesn’t require a very detailed dissertation of an answer to be completely valid. Let’s say your goal is “to work in a more appreciative environment”. Why is this so important to you? Maybe it’s because “you think that your current workplace is making you depressed and therefore, a better job that gives you the attention you feel you deserve, would raise your morale inside and out of the workplace”. That’s great. That’s perfect. What’s worrisome is when someone has a problem such as “I can’t stand my wife” and their reasoning behind it is “I don’t know. I just can’t.” In cases like this, cases with a specific emotional response and nothing to back it up, sometimes the thing that a person is angry at…or the thing the person wants…is not the same thing that they’re taking their anger out on. Perhaps the problem isn’t that he can’t stand his husband, but instead he has a history of unrealized dreams and the frustration is something she takes out on her. This Transference of Anger happens sometimes and, as you can guess, completely throws off the journey toward the ideal self so before we move on, take that into consideration and adjust accordingly.
Another potential roadblock that can be uncovered by the WHY question involves the Incomplete Goal. The most common example: someone’s goal is “I want money!”. When asked why they want money, the answer is “Because I want to be able to be able to pay for my kid’s college education” or “because I’ve always wanted to backpack in China”. Paying for college and China are the goals here, not money. Money is just a means toward a goal and too vague to be a goal itself so, keep things specific. Ask “Why?” multiple times if you have to. The Curious Child Method.
[take time to lay a few “Whys” on an audience member]
See that? It’s a great learning technique. Use it for everything. But do it in your head as it tends to become pretty irritating if said out loud.
The last roadblock I’ve discovered in my own journey and observations throughout has been my personal favorite: It’s Not Me. It’s You. An example would be the issue, “My friend won’t put more effort into starting a business with me.” I’m only going to say this once. I’m also going to say that, for some, this might actually be JUST as important as my “You are your ideal self” shpeal. You cannot place your personal fulfillment in the hands of anyone else but you. Not only are you shirking off responsibility for your growth, but you are severely lessening your chances of success. A healthier re-tooling of the exact same goal could be something like, “I want to start my own business.” Making the goal “me-oriented” places the responsibility on the goal-setter, where it belongs, and turns the friend from a crucial ingredient into something that is standing in the way, thus opening the goal-setter up to finding alternate ways of making their dream come true.
Honestly, guys. As long as your goal keeps the responsibility with you and can withstand three or four “why’s” you are on the right track.
Awesome. Moving on. Now that we’re all goal-toting champions with the firepower to back up our convictions, the time has come to answer: WHAT can I do to make this happen?
But first. Snacks! Eat up. Go crazy. We’ll be back in ten.
[welcome back and location-based anecdote/joke]
Refreshed? On the edge of your seat with anticipation? Okay then. Back to business:
WHAT can we do to get what we want? To take that goal we solidified before the break and turning it into realit? Here are the seven steps that are going to get us there: RESEARCH, PLAN/RISK, GAIN SUPPORT, ENGAGE, REWARD, ASSESS, EVOLVE.
RESEARCH. When we really want something, it’s sometimes a bit easy to become caught up in the emotion of wanting: desire. And sometimes that desire can become so powerful that it takes the form of infatuation (it’s not just for lovers) which leads to some impulsive responses that, the more complex the goal, can lead to some pretty messy results that do far more harm than good for your journey to the ideal.
Let’s say you want a shiny new car. You’re at the dealership and your eye catches the [following year], feature-packed, most beautiful vehicle you’ve ever seen. Instantly, you’re hit with 4,000 tons of passionate desire. It grabs you and will not let go. In a fit of infatuation you march to the dealer, voice your NEED for that car, sign the paperwork and take that baby home. You did it. Mission: accomplished. Goal achieved. Dragon slayed. Then you go home and reality sets in. You have to pay HOW much each month?! Your insurance is WHAT?! The mileage per gallon of gas is THAT low?! Your spouse is THAT angry you didn’t run this by them?! Especially with all the bills and the tuition and the roof that needs repaired… Uh oh. What happened? You got what you wanted, right? Sure. But you didn’t think it through and while you achieved something you didn’t have, you also lost a lot of things that you didn’t and effectively, by reacting without thinking in the name of reaching your ideal, you went and moved even farther away from it. The “RESEARCH” step performs two very important tasks: The first task, which was just outlined, is to ensure that taking action toward a new endeavor does minimal damage to the parts of your life that you enjoy. The second task is so that you know what you’re getting into. Let’s say you’ve wanted to be an astronaut since you were a kid. Sure, it seems like the coolest thing ever, but let’s not forget the months of intense training and isolation that something like that involves. This task also includes the revealing of other ways of achieving your goal that you didn’t think of before. For instance, you want to find that special someone, but limited yourself to the local bar or online dating. Research could open you up to the ideas of community events, book clubs and other ideas you wouldn’t naturally think of. The research step exists to answer the almighty question: Is it worth it? If you answer “yes” then it’s time to truly do something about it.
Step two: PLAN. You’ve done all the research so pull out a piece of paper or a word document, take all of your findings and bang out your To-Do list. The very act of writing a list is a powerful way of transforming a build-up of ideas into a tangible set of instructions; something for you to be accountable to. The stepping stones of your own design, pointing you toward your destiny. A warning to the wise: the planning phase is special in that it is the true bridge between idea and actuality and, as such, can be fresh breeding ground for the fear we talked about before which might lead to you wanting to play it safe. No. No. No. Start playing it too safe here and you’re compromising the effectiveness of ANYTHING you do next. You’ve done the research. You’ve decided that this IS worth it…chances are some of the steps won’t be easy to pull off. Most things weren’t having won’t be easy to pull off. A little bit of risk, the possibility of pain, of loss, of failure are just part of the journey. Obstacles to be overcome. If you want love, you have to accept the possibility of rejection. If you want your dream job, you have to accept the grueling work of sending out resumes and writing endless custom cover letters. If you want things to be better between you and a loved one, you have to be truthful in your feelings regardless of their reaction to them. Without some sort of risk there is no real progress. Your list has to reflect a sincere desire for lasting and meaningful change in the form of a solid goal. A watered-down list leads to watered-down, and ultimately unfulfilled, results.
Step three: GAIN SUPPORT. There are few things better than a cheering section when you’re going for that winning score. This step isn’t so much about forming a fan club as it is making sure that you’re surrounding yourself with positive influences; people who believe in you. These people are generally family and very close friends; those who care about you, are honest and want you to succeed. These people will be a shoulder to cry on if things go south, a voice of reason if your tactics are a bit off and a congratulatory explosion when you succeed. Those who wish only to tear you down are not worth your time, plain and simple. Same thing with those who live only to agree with your every decision. No-men and yes-men offer constant streams of discouragement or encouragement that holds no weight because there is no critical honesty to it. So beware them both.
One of the best things about having some sort of support is accountability. The more people you share your plans with the more people will be expecting you to accomplish them. Take it a step farther. MAKE them push you into taking action! Self-inflicted peer pressure is a powerful motivational tool.
Know that on some occasions there will be no support but yourself. And that’s okay. This step is optional. This is YOUR goal and, as I said before, you can’t place the success of your ideal self in the hands of others. While support is nice, it’s not atlall necessary to start off with it.
Step four: ENGAGE and REWARD. Take that list. Follow it. Start at step one and follow-through. You’ve put ample thought into this. You know why it’s important to you. You know why it’s worth it. You know the risks and the steps. So do it. Look your ideal self in the eye and OWN IT. And once you complete that list, NO MATTER the result, reward yourself. You took action. You should be proud. You’ve done what millions of people are too afraid to do; too lazy to do. You accepted the possibility of becoming something more. Congrats. You’re already amazing.
Step five: ASSESS. So you followed the list. Chances are you haven’t reached the jackpot yet, but that you are closer than you were before. Look at what worked. What didn’t. What should you have done differently? What should you have done more? Or not at all? What was missing? These are some of the most important questions of them all…and they can ONLY be answered by going out there and taking action. Engaging.
Once you’ve answered all the questions, you’ve firmly entered the next step: EVOLVE. This step starts the moment you go out there and start interacting with your world differently than you did before. In this case, by following your list. It continues through the ASSESSMENT step and truly takes form when you follow the steps of your new and improved list. This list is the the offspring of actual experience. It’s just as risky, but more attuned to your desires than the last one, which was based on more expectation than experience. Follow every step. EVOLVE.
Wouldn’t it be great if I said that that was it? You’ve reached your ideal self! POOF! The end. Ha. For some people it is that easy. Others, not so much. The key here is to know what you want, why you want it, and to stop at nothing to make it yours. Making it yours is a cycle of assessing and evolving, while rewarding yourself for even the smallest breakthrough. You’re growing! Celebrate it. And when you reach one goal, start on another. The truth is there’s no end to this quest for the ideal self. If you have everything you want, I guarantee by the time you reach it you’ll want more. Great! Chances are the ideal self you had when your journey began will be ten times less accomplished as your current self if you keep working at it. Think about THAT for a second. By assessing and evolving you will not only fully unlock the ideal self that it ALREADY IN YOU, but you will also surpass it in the most wonderful and often unexpected ways. It’s incredible and it is well within reach.
WHEN do you start this journey? What do you think? When you have some free time this weekend? When you get home tonight? [audience answers] Now. You’re starting it right now. Heck, you started it the second you formed a goal in your head, but the journey to achieve it starts right here. Right now. No excuses. No more dragging your feet. Life is short and living a life of inactivity is not living at all. Living a life of fear, not living at all. It is only when you are working toward a dream that you are truly and unarguably alive. Thank you.