Do you know what holds you back? What gets in the way of you accomplishing your goals? dreams?
Unfortunately in a world where productivity is most valued, it can feel like a waste of time to do the “heart work” –
to reflect on one’s life and learn deeply about oneself. However, at the base of one’s external life is this inner self who is being fulfilled or not, who is getting their emotional needs met or not. This deeper self whose needs are being met or not profoundly affects how an individual moves through the world, what they feel motivated (or unmotivated) to do, and all that “productivity” modern society values so intensely.
I like to tell folks, our one job in this life is to figure out how we are wired and how we can share our gifts and talents with the people around us. It’s no easy task. But no one has to figure it out alone, and there are tons of tools which can help.
I have two favorite tools I use for helping individuals or teams begin to sketch out what’s important to them, what motivates them, and how they’re wired. The first is the Enneagram, an ancient personality-typing system based off one’s core desires and fears.
The Enneagram teaches that there are nine core personality types and every person identifies with one more strongly than the other eight. Each person’s dominant type keeps that person in cyclical habits that tend to make their life more or less the same over time. This can be comforting (after all, who would want to go through life with no personality at all), but it’s also where most of an individual’s problems arise, since various situations in life usually call for different responses. To break this trap, or our automated responses to life (using Beatrice Chestnut’s language), we must go against our type’s patterns, which feels unnatural and arduous but comes to be some of our most important work.
The Ennea-journey is one of freedom and learning deeply about yourself.
I love this tool because it gives language to the internal landscape beneath the external actions presented to the world. If you’re fed up with the surface level and ready for deeper development work, this is the tool for you.
After getting into the process of becoming self-aware, the question becomes how to share one’s unique gifts with the world. My second favorite tool that relates especially to this question is dreamscaping.
Dreamscaping is a four-part exercise in which you visualize potential futures and sort through desires for this one life you’ve been given.
Step 1: Clearing Your Mind of Any Expectations
During the dreamscaping exercise, we ask:
- What are different, incredible, insane, enjoyable futures I can imagine for myself?
- If money didn’t matter, how would I be spending my time?
- What am I good at?
- What do I want my daily life to look like?
- How is the world a different place after I leave it?
Answering these may seem like unproductive work, but actually these answers give us strong insight into our internal world and helps us begin to truly discover what we want and what will give us those perennial feelings of joy that stem from deep within.
Step 2: Capture Your Wonderful Ideas!
A crazy example I tell clients is that six years ago, my husband and I dreamscaped in a cozy coffee shop in San Juan Capistrano, CA. We recently looked back at our dreamscape and saw we wrote down, “Live in a yellow house,” and, “Own 4 chickens.” Which incredibly enough, has become a reality without us ever connecting the two in real time! When we were prompted to choose a color for our home two years ago, we had many options and were not thinking about our dreamscape. But the dream inside of us came to life without our realizing, and the color yellow found us. Same story with the chickens, and goats.
Step 3: Categorize, Sort, and Notice Patterns in Your Dreams
When dreamscaping, we start to notice trends in what came up. “Ah-ha!” moments and surprising twists to treasures that existed inside us, that we didn’t know were there.
These patterns and trends about ourselves inform us how we should move forward in making big life decisions, such as what profession to cultivate and where to live.
Step 4: Work with a Coach to Create a Plan to Step into This Life
Each of us have a unique way about us and our own life path. It just takes some digging and work to learn which direction is best. Knowing our direction combined with having actionable tasks on how to move forward is how deep life change occurs.
This June, I am leading a leading the workshops at Yellow Co.’s Enneagram Dreamscaping Retreat where we will spend three days together in Portland dreaming and diving into the Enneagram. Everyone who attends will leave with a tremendous sense of clarity, action steps, and a plan for how to live the life that is “trying to be lived inside them.” I hope to see you there!
Photos courtesy of Ashlee Sikorski