A Rock Star’s Guide to Making Your Dreams Come True
Are you jonesing for a better life but rarely let yourself dream about what you really want? Or do you know what you want but hesitate to take a step toward that brighter future? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Whenever I ask my workshop participants to envision their ideal future they often draw a blank, even though they signed up for the class because they felt ready to change their life. Weird, right?
The truth is, most of us don’t answer the call to be our magnificent selves. We stay paralyzed in lives that don’t suit us. Our heartfelt aspirations become pipe dreams.
For example, I have a friend in a low-level tech job who says he’s going to write a book. His title and ideas are fantastic but it’s been nearly two decades and he still hasn’t written it. Can you relate? How can you overcome resistance to change so that you will do what is necessary to make your dreams come true?
Newton’s first law of motion can help you understand why you procrastinate. According to that law, an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion. People are the same way.
Once you heed your deeper calling, your life moves in wondrous ways. But to answer it, you must change from a state of inertia to one of motion. You need some force to push you past your initial resistance. Unfortunately, a professional or personal crisis usually ends up being the shove you need.
Don’t let that happen to you. Allow me to kick you in the pants instead. Deal?
I am living proof that wish lists work. When I was a psychology professor, I envisioned a life as a rock star and then I became one. You can create the life you want. The most difficult part of my coaching practice has been getting people to ask for what they really want in the first place.
Sometimes I wonder whether it has anything to do with the stories we’ve all heard about genies and fairy godmothers granting wishes. Have you ever noticed how these tales tend to end in twisted and funky ways?
For example, I saw a funny comic strip the other day in which an old woman was given three wishes. First, she asked to have her tiny dumpy bed turned into a four-poster king-sized bed. Poof, there it was. Then, she requested to be changed into a beautiful, sexually desirable woman. Instantly her withered body transformed into that of a supermodel.
Finally, she demanded that her cat be refashioned into a handsome young man. Where her kitty had once been napping, a muscular Adonis now appeared. However, in the last frame of the cartoon, the woman’s face showed great disappointment as this sexy hunk said to her, “I bet you’re glad you had me castrated now!” Who wants to risk making a wish when the outcome is likely to be an unhappy one?
Rest assured, wish lists turn out much better than the typical genie story would have you believe. We can ask for more than just three things. If the first few don’t pan out, we always get more chances. I have to admit, though, there is a definite trickster energy to visualization.
Just like in that old Rolling Stones song — “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need” — setting intentions doesn’t always bring about what you long for, but it often gives you just what you need. So ask for what you want, but be able to let go of the results just in case something better comes along.
Creating a wish list is similar to doing a thought experiment. It’s about going for what you really hunger for and putting all the reasons you think you can’t have it aside. These aspirations can range from the material (such as a new car), to the psychological (high self-worth), to the spiritual (inner peace), to — well — pretty much anything you can think of.
Whenever my workshop participants tell me they have no idea where to start, I urge them to jot down one or two ideas just for fun anyway. Once they begin moving their pens they are amazed to see that they really do know what they yearn for. The ideas may come in dribs and drabs but they always appear. The same will be true for you.
The idea is to ask for what you really want, not what you think you can have…even if you have no idea how you’re going to get it. Remember, wish lists work. Don’t settle for less. You can create a life that totally rocks.
The world is a magical place. Have faith that circumstances will favor you somehow. Once you’ve committed your longings to paper, be on the lookout for your desires to be fulfilled in funny, indirect ways. Opportunities are likely to appear in the most unlikely places.
Now, it may be hard to wrap your head around making a whopping change like I did when I went from being a professor to becoming a rock star. So, to get you started, let me tell you about how I made a smaller change in my life by putting my desire on a wish list. It was nearly 20 years ago and under a dire circumstance.
I’d had a near accident on Highway 17, a curvy road that winds through the Santa Cruz Mountains in northern California. I had just driven over the summit and was headed downhill toward Los Gatos when it began to rain. The woman in front of me suddenly lost control of her car. In my rearview mirror, I could see a truck gaining on me. Cement embankments surrounded my vehicle on both sides. I was trapped.
I held my breath as the woman’s hatchback hit the left divide and bounced sideways into the left lane before me. For some reason, I stayed in that lane anyway. It’s a good thing I did because her auto continued to skate into the right lane. Finally, it bounced off the right guardrail and rolled back to a diagonal stop across both lanes. I watched her airbag go off as my car squeezed around her front bumper.
The one thought on my mind was that I could have been killed, especially in that junker. My old Datsun Sentra was rickety and lacked airbags. I had just returned from doing a music tour in South Africa where I had a top 10 radio hit. I had been hired to consult for a think tank in Palo Alto using my psychology research skills. Score! But I needed to drive over that hill to work there. Even though money was tight (it takes a while to make money in the music industry), it seemed like a life and death matter.
I took out a sheet of paper and scribbled down that I needed an automobile I felt safe in, a Mercedes, BMW or Volvo. How I would pay for it was a mystery to me, I just knew that I had to find one. Every morning and every night I looked at that wish, and every day I scanned the classifieds. But no options within my means appeared.
So I started talking to anyone who would listen to me about my dream car. I took a ride in my drummer’s Volvo to see what it was like but it seemed too boxy for me. Then another friend took me for a drive in her black Mercedes. I instantly fell in love. It was so elegant, it even had a sunroof. But it seemed too chic for me. A BMW would probably suit me best, I reasoned. Still, I loved the color of my friend’s car…and that roof.
Two weeks went by and still nothing happened. Then one day a woman at my new company sent out a general email letting us know that she was selling her BMW. By the time I called “Fran,” though, she informed me that two people had already driven her car and made offers on it. “Oh well,” I sighed into the receiver, “at least I tried.” For some reason, Fran took pity on me. “You can take it out after lunch,” she offered, “if you still want to.” I jumped at the chance.
When I met Fran in the parking lot, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Her BMW was shiny black and had a sunroof, just like my friend’s Mercedes! I was sure it was a sign. Exhilarated, I pulled out of the parking lot with Fran in the passenger seat and promptly popped the clutch. I wanted to die of embarrassment. “Sorry,” I panted, and immediately did it again. The car lurched forward a couple more times, but I finally got the hang of it.
When the test drive was over, Fran turned to me. “You know,” she cheered, “I like the way you handle my car better than the two guys did this morning. They were revving the engine like it was a race car! You’re so much gentler with it. So, if you want it, you can have it.” I gazed up through the sunroof at the sky and smiled at God. “Thank you,” I whispered in my mind. And then it dawned on me. I had no idea how much Fran wanted for the car.
“How much are you asking?”
“$6,000 — in cash.”
“I’ll take it,” I gulped, having no idea where the funds would come from.
I stalled for two days by having a friend who is a mechanic check out the car. He told me it was in terrific condition. Still, no money flowed my way. “Stupid wish list,” I muttered to myself, “stupid wish list.” I decided I would have to get cash out on my credit card to pay for it. I’d never done that in my life.
Then the next day, out of the blue, I got a call from the University of California at Santa Cruz where I’d taught part-time before leaving for South Africa. They asked me if I would be available to teach Sensory Perception that quarter. “How much does it pay?” I inquired. “$6,000.”
Now when I tell my creativity workshop participants this story, they smile and shake their heads. A few of them can’t wait to get started on setting their own intentions. But there is always one who delights in telling me how stupid she thinks wish lists are. Ironically, this workshop participant is usually the first one to have her dreams come true.
For example, I’ll never forget “Sherry,” a freckle-faced woman in her early twenties with strawberry-blonde hair and thick-lensed glasses who was a bit of a hellion in class. “There is no way this is going to work,” she declared, rolling her eyes behind those lenses.
I urged her to try it anyway. “Just pretend it works,” I suggested. “You paid for the class. You may as well give it a go. What do you want?”
After shooting me a “you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me” look, Sherry mentioned that she’d been hunting forever for an apartment in San Jose. Either it had already been taken by the time she called, there was something wrong with it, or they didn’t allow cats. “I’m never gonna find one!” she declared, exasperated. I suggested that Sherry put it on her list. She rolled her eyes again. “Okay,” she replied reluctantly, “I will do it for you.”
“No,” I thought to myself, “you’re doing it for you.” But I kept my mouth shut.
The next week Sherry walked into the classroom smiling. “You’ll never believe what happened,” she chirped. “I ran into my friend Jerry, who I haven’t seen in years. It turns out that his next-door neighbor was planning to rent out his condo but he hadn’t put it in the newspaper yet. I looked at it last night. It’s perfect. I’m moving in next week.”
Why do wish lists work? New Thought philosophy calls it “The Law of Attraction” and holds that we magnetically draw our desires to us through our intentions. Writing it down makes it more real. Being focused on what we want enables us to see options we would’ve never noticed before. We’re also more willing to work for our goals once they’re top of mind. I’ve witnessed it happen with so many people so often in so many ways that there’s got to be something to it.
Try it and find out for yourself! You don’t have to change your life all at once. Start with something small.
Pretend I’m your fairy godmother and I give you permission to be your most magnificent
self. You look down startled to discover you’ve instantly grown a pair. (Sorry if I went too far here — I was feeling feisty.) What would you do next with this new bravado? What kind of life would be music to your ears? It doesn’t matter whether it seems unattainable or even downright crazy. Giving yourself permission to daydream about a rich and fulfilling life is the first step to manifesting it.