Symphonic Activity: 1 of 4 Days to Write Your Wondrous Best Self’s 2012 Story
Note: This article is #2 in a 5-part series. The introduction to the Be Possible Project will get you up to speed. The first phase of the Be Possible Writing Project continues over the next four days. Stay tuned for a special follow-up phase.
1. THE QUESTION, REPEATED
Is there a science or an art to manifesting our dreams and achieving our goals? Is there something beyond wishful thinking and empty truisms that will up the chances that our wondrous best self will flourish in 2012?
Yes. No. Sort of. Not exactly. Apparently. Possibly.
I’m suspicious of quick fixes. Bliss in a weekend. A successful book proposal or business plan in a month. 5 Steps to Anything. So, being the unabashed research geek that I am I’ve researched myself, my enterprises, our clients, and reams of social psychology and neuroscience.
I don’t have the answer to manifesting your best possible self’s vision and goals. But I do have tweaks to an intervention that’s been proven to work on people’s outlook, health, and disposition to problem-solve.
Research psychologist Laura A. King’s originally gave college students this prompt:
“Think about your life in the future. Imagine that everything has gone as well as it possibly could. You have worked hard and succeeded at accomplishing all of your life goals. Think of this as the realization of all of your life dreams. Now, write about what you imagined.” (“The Health Benefits of Writing About Life Goals.” Laura A. King. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. July 2001 vol. 27 no. 7 798-807)
The accompanying instructions suggest you find a quiet place and then for four consecutive nights write in response to this prompt. Find out more about the study’s background and results in the introduction to the Be Possible Project.
2. TRACKING YOUR WONDROUS BEST SELF #1:
I’ve tweaked the prompt and divided it into four prompts, one for each of the four days. These prompts further engage your deep imagination, emotions, and intellect while also including some key ingredients to actually feeling gratified in pursuing goals.
Today’s prompt revolves around Symphonic Activity. Symphonic Activity is an activity that brings together your mind, body, and aspirations like players in a symphony. The activity might challenge your wits in an optimal way, but all facets of your self move harmoniously. Examples include conducting your daily business and enterprise with elegance, giving a dynamic talk, orchestrating a party or social gathering, facilitating an event, writing a book or story, designing a project.
In short, in a symphonic activity, you really do feel like a creative maestro.
Here’s the prompt:
“Find a quiet, private place. Then, follow these instructions for the first day:
Imagine your best possible self at the end of a specific day in late 2012. See yourself in a specific place where you can reflect upon the day and the year. A favorite chair, a deck or balcony, a mountainside?
What SYMPHONIC ACTIVITIES have you been engaged in this year that have brought out your wondrous best self, deep activities that your best self has aspired toward? How has your body felt while engaged in those activities? How would you describe the rhythm of your body’s movements?
How have specific parts of your mind – perception, imagination, emotion, intellect – been engaged? How has your mind felt during these past few months?
What if anything have you said during these activities? To whom? How would you describe the quality and tenor of your voice? The quality of your relationships with these individuals or groups? The quality of your relationship with your wondrous best self?”
Prompt 2 comes tomorrow.
3. PARTICIPATE IN THE BE POSSIBLE PROJECT
All right, every day ain’t going to be the best day of your life, don’t worry about that. If you stick to it you hold the possibility open that you will have better days. – author & activist Wendell Berry
I’m genuinely curious how effective these prompts will be for you this year. I’m so curious what will happen for each of us and what the match ups and discrepancies will be between our aspirations today and what manifests a year from now.
I’m also a nut for follow-up.
So, first, drop in the Hut here this week and join the conversation. Share parts or all of your responses to the prompts. Ask questions about the research. Or let us know what you’re doing to “plant seeds” for your wondrous best self’s aspirations to bloom this year.
Then, second, by the end of this week, I’ll announce a dynamic way for us to track our wondrous best selves this year.
I’ll post the second prompt tomorrow.
Be possible. Act accordingly.
See you in the woods,
I’m excited to sit down tonight with this prompt. I’ve been working with my mind rooms for 2012 for the past week, trying to ginger clear intentions and realistic, not too-overwhelming goals out of them. During the process, I’ve been trying to determine my three “guide” words for the year, but haven’t been able to find a third word that lands right. I have a strong hunch it will emerge during tonight’s writing. Thank you.
To be honest, the Laura King’s original prompt didn’t move me that much. It threw up for me what my meditation teacher calls “perfect pictures,” those pictures and expectations we all carry of what life “should” be like based on unrealistic — and often unauthentic — expectations of society, family, etc.
I’m wondering how you would define your “wondrous best self” without setting up unachievable “perfect pictures?”
Marsha ~ You hit on a necessary aspect of goal manifestation – being realistic in our highest or deepest (choose your metaphor) aspirations. I had a similar response to King’s prompt, despite her study’s positive outcome. I think you’ll find prompts 2, 3, and 4 addressing this very matter.
You define your wondrous best self in part by recognizing that, yes, a great deal is possible. That it is possible to change mindset, work flow, and skill set. The wonder lies in part in that fact. The other essential part of the wondrous best self involves intentional, consistent creative action on behalf of the best self’s aspirations. The best self in action is a wonder to behold. I mean that. So, again, I think you’ll find the next prompts right in line with your thoughtful questioning.
And, hey!, I’m thrilled you’re organizing your Mind Rooms (https://trackingwonder.com/2010/11/23/shaping-mind-rooms-to-reframe-the-meaning-of-tasks/).
I look forward to hearing about your experience this evening.
Amazingly enough, I actually sat down and did this exercise. That’s my wondrous best self emerging already…if only in a small way.
Some things emerged pretty quickly and clearly. And yet, it still feels “fake” somehow. Yes, it’s a concrete vision, not just “I will be successful this year”. A breath of fresh air in that way. But wow, what a big leap it is from vision to accomplishment.
I’ve got work to do…
Laura ~ Congratulations! Yes, just taking your best self seriously enough to complete an exercise like this can feel “huge.”
Curious what you say about what you wrote feeling “fake.” I wonder what that feeling comes from. Try the Day 2 prompt. It will certainly ask you to consider more than just the desired outcome.
And I love your closing sentiments – so true about the leap from vision to accomplishment. But, really, so much is possible.
Thanks for dropping in The Hut.
Ah yes, day two addresses that fake feeling. Just seeing future success, to me, isn’t real. It hasn’t happened. What does it take to make it happen? That’s both the question and answer. On to day three.
(I commented yesterday but somehow my comment disappeared!)
I loved how this prompt helped me focus on the process of participating in my symphonic activity, rather than on the outcome, which is where I usually default when I’m doing planning or goal-setting. I felt playful and present rather than anxious or grasping when I envisioned the end of the year.
And it was interesting to me that I instinctively wrote about parenting first, and then writing and coaching. I wonder if it was the focus on the physical that made it come to mind before anything else.
Alison ~ I’ve had similar experiences with this prompt – feeling more presence-oriented ironically even as I’m envisioning. I’m glad it worked for you.
Parenting, first, and physicality – I get that connection. My toddler girl came in for “running and jumping” this morning after I finished my writing session. Oh, how I need that as much as she does!
Thanks for dropping in the Hut, and here’s to our Symphonic Activities in 2012!