‘m going to share a very personal story. It’s about a person and a process that have had a tremendous positive impact on me. I hope it inspires you to think differently…to dream bigger…to take more meaningful action…to empower more possibilities in your life, your organization, and your community.
I am privileged to call John Henry McDonald a friend and mentor. He is a very special person, beloved by many, with an inspiring rags to riches story.
A 21-day Vision Quest
In 2013, John Henry shared his 21-Day Vision Quest exercise with me. During this process, you exercise your dream muscle by journaling every day for 21 days straight. If you’re curious, you can learn more about the process here. In John Henry’s words, “It’s an exercise in possibilities, not probabilities.”
As he explained the process to me over lunch, John Henry showed me some of his journals from years past. He told numerous stories about how the people, events and circumstances in his 21-day Vision Quest journals manifested into reality. I hung on to his every word.
As intrigued as I was by his stories, I was skeptical as to how this exercise could apply to me. I am a CPA. I considered myself to be a very analytical person. I certainly never labeled myself as “creative” or a “dreamer.” I wasn’t sure how this “visioning” business was going to work.
But John Henry and his amazing stories intrigued me. With an open mind and a burning curiosity, I decided to give it a shot.
My 21-day experiment
When I first sat down to try this visioning process, I realized I had been living my life primarily on a day-to-day basis. I lacked clarity about what I wanted my future to look like. Sure, I had a vague, general idea about the big things, like a happy family and a successful career. But I had never envisioned in detail what that might actually look like.
The first week or so of the 21 Day Vision Quest was nothing short of awkward for me. I wasn’t even sure how to “dream.” I kept questioning whether or not I was doing this “the right way.” (By the way – there is no “right” or “wrong” way to do this. The point is to just do it! You’ll get better with practice and learn what works best for you.) My poor dream muscle was pretty weak…a sad, little muscle that had been long neglected. I managed to eke out short bullet point lists for the different areas of my life each day.
But after 21 days straight of exercise, my dream muscle got stronger. I started flexing…even showing off a little. On the 21st day, I wrote pages of prose describing a day in my future life.
Fast forward to today. My dream muscle is better conditioned. Now, I’m in “maintenance mode.” I dream of the future on a daily basis. It has become one of my favorite habits. My mind sees new possibilities all the time, even in the middle of the night. I am a different person.
I recently paged through my own 21-day Vision Quest journals from the past 3 years. Joyfully, I realized that many of the dreams I described on the pages of my journals have already come to pass. Oftentimes, they unfolded in ways that were better than I imagined.
Why is dreaming important?
We are accustomed to hearing other people tell us why our ideas or dreams won’t work…why they’re not “realistic.” Although well meaning, those who love us sometimes discourage us from dreaming. They believe it is their responsibility to “bring us back to reality.” They want to protect us in case we fail to make our dreams a reality.
As a result, many of us live according to a belief system that discourages us from dreaming big. So we end up playing small, afraid to fail. Or even worse – we never even realize that more is possible.
I believe that dreaming is an essential part of a fulfilling life. It encourages us to grow, stretch and evolve. It allows us to tap into our unlimited potential. And, it’s fun!
Since I’ve made space in my life to create a clear vision of who I want to be, what I want to contribute and where I want to go, I can:
- See new possibilities for who I can become and what I can accomplish.
- Create personal goals and guide my actions in service to my vision.
- Enroll others in my vision and collaborate with them to create a new, bigger vision.
- Notice and take advantage of opportunities to help make my vision a reality as the right people, events and circumstances show up in my life.
- Embody my future self now.
- Evaluate how certain decisions may fit into my vision.
When was the last time you gave yourself permission to dream?
Go ahead…just do it. I dare you to dream big.
All my best,