Chapter Five – Your Vision Is Your Future [Draft]
The following is the first draft of chapter five of my book “DARETOGROW and Change Your Life”. You can read the other chapters here.
On February 17th 1997 Jim Carrey, the actor and comedian, told Oprah on The Oprah Winfrey Show that he had once written himself a cheque for ten million dollars ‘for acting services rendered’. He had written the cheque back in 1992 and had given himself three years to cash it in.
Thinking about what he wanted he told Oprah: “I would drive home and think well I do have these things and they’re out there I just don’t have a hold of them yet but they’re out there”. He had done this – practiced visualisation and the Law of Attraction – since 1985 and things were about to change for him.
His desire came not from his vision alone but from an intention; an intention to alleviate suffering in his mum who suffered with rheumatoid arthritis and depression. He wanted to show her that her life mattered. Her life mattered because she had created him and he mattered. He wanted her to be free from her pain and so, a young kid, he would spend hours trying to make her laugh and then he’d go into his room with a legal pad and try to figure out what life was all about.
One day he read a quote from Buddha which said that all spirituality is there to alleviate suffering. He got it instantly – he knew that his purpose was to alleviate suffering with humour and he remembered thinking to himself: ‘I’m aligned. My purpose is aligned with this’. It became the vision for his life: to make a living doing what he loved; doing what he had a natural affinity for – comedy.
With his purpose and his vision aligned (alleviate suffering by making people laugh), he carried that cheque for ten million dollars around in his wallet and just before Thanksgiving 1995 he found out he was going to make ten million dollars shooting Dumb and Dumber. His vision for his life had come true and he’d achieved it by living his life’s purpose.
Jim Carey has long known the secret of the Universe: set an intention, let go of your obsession with the outcome and work and live like you have already achieved it – get into vibrational alignment with is – and it will manifest.
If you want to be a writer – you’d best be writing and sharing your work with joy. The opportunity will come.
If you want to be a coach – you’d best be coaching and adding value to people’s lives. The growth will come.
If you want to be healthier – you’d best be eating better and exercising now. The change in your body will come.
None of these things happen by asking alone. No. We must get into alignment with that outcome. ‘Become’ the person who warrants that outcome and it will come.
That is the secret of the Universe and understanding it is critical to building your dream life.
It sounds simple. It is. And that’s why I misunderstood it when I first came across this secret in 2011 in a book, aptly named: The Secret. I was 23 years’ old and was living in London at the time. It was about a year before I’d get the notion to quit my job and launch my own business. My best friend had recommended the book to me. Her mum, who was a nurse, had told her about it. “Everyone is raving about it Lisa”, she told me.
The notion was completely new to me: ask for what you want, ‘release it to the Universe’, practice gratitude and you’ll get it. So, ask for money and cheques will appear through your letterbox that you just weren’t expecting.
I asked for a lot of things back then but the main thing I remember asking for was…money, of course. And lots of it. I wanted to be a millionaire by the time I was 30.
Having read The Secret I loved the idea of vision boards, where you cut out pictures from magazines that depict the things you’d want in your life: the car, the house, the partner. I didn’t make one at the time but I did do things like edit my bank statement on Photoshop. I changed it to show an amount of one million pounds in my current account. Which, when you think about it, is quite ridiculous because if I had a million pounds I’m sure I’d be putting it to better use than that!
I asked for other things too and as year after year went by, I never really got what I wanted: wealth, financial freedom, the car, the house. But I wasn’t one to sit around waiting. Whilst I had a wish list of what I wanted, I began working away on my dreams.
My hard work paid off. By the time I was 27 I had built two six figures business and was working with multi-million pound clients. I had forgotten all about The Secret and The Law of Attraction and instead focused on the growth of my businesses.
Things were looking good but something didn’t feel right. I was depressed. Personally, I was broke even though my companies were bringing in over £35k per month combined. And, I had this niggling feeling in my heart that I wasn’t where I supposed to be in life. I think this denying of who I was and what I was capable of contributed immensely to my depression.
Have you ever had that feeling? On paper everything looks good and you know you should be grateful for what you have only, you’re not. You can’t be because, for some reason, you feel trapped by what you have and where you are in life. It’s not what you wanted and now you’re stuck. But you can’t complain. It will upset people and you’ll look ungrateful.
That’s how I felt.
In IX7, the third business I was launching at the time, I had created this model to show my coaching clients. It was a picture of two overlapping circles; a sort of ‘venn’ diagram. Above the circle on the left it read ‘what you are, have and do’. Above the circle on the right it read ‘what you want to have, be and do’.
I’d get clients to fill it in. They’d write down what they already had on the left and what they wanted on the right. If ‘what they had’ was in line with ‘what they wanted’, I would ask them to write it in the middle where the circles overlapped.
I’d say “When ‘what you have’ and ‘what you want’ overlap you’re happy, content, aligned. When they don’t, you’re not and you experience longing, desire and sometimes even a sense of anger!”.
As human beings we’re always on a quest for something. This is our vision in life: it’s what we want, who we want to become, where we want to be. We feel happy when our circles overlap or even if they don’t overlap but we’re clearly on the right path to making those circles overlap! Think of a goal you’ve pursued in the past…even when you were striving to hit it you felt good, right?
But most of us aren’t on that journey. Many of us have cast off our dreams – our life vision – as fantasy. ‘It will never happen’, we say, ‘not to me’, and we stop trying. We go back to what we know: the safety of a job we hate, a business we don’t love or even a relationship we know is bad for us. For many of us we’d rather endure the pain of what we have than risk the pain of pursuit.
And this is why Paulo Coelho writes in the introduction to The Alchemist that when we go in pursuit of our dreams “Intense, unexpected suffering passes more quickly than suffering that is apparently bearable; the latter goes on for years and, without our noticing, eats away at our soul, until, one day, we are no longer able to free ourselves from the bitterness and it stays with us for the rest of our lives”.
Paulo knows that the pain suffered in the pursuit of our dreams is acute but passes quickly. The pain we suffer when we reside to live an average life is more bearable and so we make no changes. But it eats away at us and makes us bitter.
Lisa Nichols, an incredible transformational speaker out in America described it another way. She was in a bad place in her life: she had lost her job, her car had been re-possessed due to non-payment and she was mad at herself, her situation and at life.
One day, sat on her bed she was watching a clip by Les Brown, one of my favourite motivational speakers – the man who I was listening to on ‘that run’!
Les told the story of the dog lying on a porch beside an elderly couple, rocking in their respective rocking chairs. A man passed the couple and the dog and noticed the dog was whimpering as if it were in pain. He wondered silently what the dog was moaning about.
The next day he walked past the house again. He saw the old couple rocking in their chairs and the dog laying between them, making the same pained sounds. Puzzled, the man promised that if the dog were morning the next day, he’d ask the old couple about it.
On the third day, to his distress, he saw the same scene. He couldn’t stand it any more.
“Excuse me, ma’am,” he called out to the old woman, “what’s wrong with your dog?”
“Oh, him?” she said. “He’s lying on a nail.”
Confused by her reply, the man asked, “If he’s lying on a nail and it hurts, why doesn’t he just get up?”
The little old lady smiled and said in a sweet, grandmother tone, “Well, honey, its hurts just enough for him to moan about it, but not enough for him to move yet.”
Lisa describes this as a turnaround moment in her life. She knew that feeling. She had enough pain in her life but not too much…it was just bearable and so she wasn’t making her move.
I know that feeling. My life back in 2015 hurt but I guess it didn’t hurt enough. But as Esther Hicks, an American speaker and author who channels words from a group of non-physical entities called Abraham: if you don’t listen, the signs will get louder and louder. And if you still ignore the signs, they’ll get louder still.
You see, when you stray too far from your intended path (your destiny, if you will), your heart will tell you and the Universe will send you signs. They’ll be small at first but they’ll get bigger and bigger until suddenly they’re like a brick wall saying ‘seriously – you’re going to ignore this one?’.
For me, my grave state of depression was my brick wall. There were small signs along the way. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be running a recruitment company or a marketing agency but I thought it was too late for me then. I’d made my bed and had to lie in it. Right?
That’s when it happened. The Les Brown run, the Steve Jobs video, The Alchemist. Faced with the prospect of death I started to worry about the things I’d never get to experience if I didn’t act now. I thought about the untold story that would die with me if I didn’t start writing and speaking. I imagined the torture of my ‘unfinished business’ here on earth. And so I put down my books on strategy, operations and profit and picked up books on getting over depression, manifesting your dream life and change. I gave up business shows and networking and attended seminars with Gabby Bernstein and training events with Toby Robbins. I stopped writing about marketing and web design and started writing about purpose and how to build your dream life. I even started writing my book – the one you’re reading.
The idea of dying with my story still inside me moved me in ways I’d never experienced before and I started asking myself three very important questions almost daily:
What do you want to be celebrating 12 months from today, Lisa?
How do you want to feel each day, Lisa?
What does your perfect day look like, Lisa?
I want you to take a moment and ask those questions of yourself. If it helps, here is a link to guided visualisation exercise I created to help you experience the answers first hand.
You see, what you intend for your life you get. And this is why they say that if your intention is to ‘get by’ or just ‘pay the bills’ then that’s all you’ll get. If your intention is to achieve great wealth or financial abundance then that’s what you’ll get.
Your vision for your life is your future. What you do today is creating your tomorrow.
And that’s why I started writing this book. I knew that in order to become a published author I had to stop fantasising about it and start ‘being it’. I had to write.
In December 2016 I submitted my book proposal to a publishing house in London. I was confident I’d hear back from them…
One month went by and another. Then three then four. I submitted my manuscript to agents and thought about sending it to other publishing houses but I’d lost a bit of steam. I was so close to being out of debt, I was happy for the first time in my life and I was living the vision I’d set for myself only 18 months prior: I had money again, I had built a new business on my terms and I had time to read and write and bake! My circles had aligned for a moment.
I put the thought of my book to one side for a bit as it was driving me crazy. I closed my vision book, stopped practicing gratitude formally and just ‘went with the flow’.
As days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months it was suddenly 3rd May 2017 and I was turning 31! Where had that come from? From the age of 23 – 25 I’d made dramatic progress towards my dreams – I had quit my job, grown my first company and learnt about business. Then I stalled for a few years. From 29 – 30 I’d made even more important progress – I’d written half my book, sold out talks and launched my first online course. But 30 – 31…what had happened? Nothing. I’d stalled. Worse, I’d taken my foot off the dream pedal and allowed myself to coast in comfort.
Lying awake one morning I remembered the phrase ‘when you stop striving for what you want, what you don’t want will grow automatically’. It reminded me of something Tony Robbins had said in LA: ‘if you don’t stand guard in the garden of your mind, weeds will grow automatically’. It was something his mentor Jim Rohn had told him.
Weeds have grown in my mind, I thought to myself. I can never stop striving for the life I want.
So what would I be doing if I had secured a book deal, I asked myself? Well, I’d be finishing the book. Putting on talks. Building my connections with the people I can help. I’d be getting ready to go on tour, to promote it.
But I wasn’t doing any of that. I’d stopped writing for five months, nearly six! Not a new word written for my book, not a new event held. Nada. My dream was just sat there, gathering dust and all the while I was waiting for it to manifest.
Have you ever done this? Asked for something and maybe even done a bit of work towards it but then stopped for no reason? Sometimes we’re scared it will never happen, sometimes we tire of it and in some cases we just forget about it. We stop working towards it and weeds grow in its place. We slip back to our old lives, old patterns, old habits. That’s what I did. I changed my priorities. Instead of prioritising my new, dream life I began prioritising my current life: safety, security, cashflow.
I kept saying to Alice “as soon as I get caught up with my work, I’ll get back to writing”, but by the time I had caught up I was so tired and drained that I couldn’t bear the thought of writing.
‘Something has to change’, I thought to myself. But what? Where do I begin?
I thought back to the major changes I’d made in my life only 18 months ago. ‘What had I been doing?’, I asked myself. Running, baking, reading, speaking, blogging.
Keen to take control of my day (and my life!), I got up, laced up my trainers and hit the road. Running is the best way for me to get out of my head and back into my heart.
It was early and there were a lot of cars on the road as people headed to work. I remember thinking to myself ‘I’m so glad I don’t have to go to work’ and then ‘huh, that’s funny – I couldn’t say that just two years ago’. As it began to rain and the wind picked up I smiled and thought ‘good, this will clear my head’.
I was listening to a motivational video on You Tube – a mash up of motivational messages taken from films and interviews with speakers, actors and celebrities and the stories were getting me pumped. I jumped in the puddles, letting the cold rain water soak through to my socks. ‘Who cares’, I thought, ‘trainers can dry’. I was on a high – leaning into the hills, powering myself up with my arms repeating over and over ‘don’t quit on yourself Lisa – if you can make it to the top of this hill you can make it to your dream life’.
And then I heard something that struck me.
One of the speakers said: “The world doesn’t give you what you want, it gives you what you deserve. The world will not accept a payment plan for the life you want. You have to pay up front and in full”.
I knew what it meant: you can’t ask for what you want and expect it to come to you. You must do the work as if it were guaranteed. You must act as if it’s already yours. You must pay up front to get the reward. You must finish your book!
It was the Law of Attraction, but not the version I’d understood. I remember writing a blog about it months earlier. I told readers: the Universe gives you what you are and not what you want. But even then, I don’t think I understood it in full.
The Law of Attraction is perhaps one of the most important things we need to understand and practice when building our dream lives. You can’t just work your way to your dream life. Trust me, I’ve tried that. You can’t just dream your way to it either. I’ve tried that too!
In order to build your dream life you must get into vibrational alignment with it. Instead of looking forward and wishing, you have to get grounded in this moment, act as if you have it and express profound gratitude for the fact it is your reality. You must become your vision. It is here, it is done. ‘Maktub’ – It is written, as it says in The Alchemist.
What I’ve come to realise is that most of us do the opposite of this. We think about what we want and, instead of acting in a way that will guarantee it – working towards it, feeling positive about it and expressing gratitude for what we have – we focus on the fact that don’t have it. We see only the gap and we experience a sense of lack.
The vibration for ‘abundance’ and the vibration for ‘lack’ are polar opposites. You can’t feel lack and manifest money and you can’t feel abundance and manifest lack.
This is a very important distinction.
For example, I’m always thinking about ‘the day’ my book will be published, that day will never arrive. ‘Tomorrow’ never truly comes and therefore in order to manifest things into your life you must decide what you want, yes, but then you must act as if you already have it. Practice gratitude for it, experience the feelings that come with being a published author, behave as if it is done. Once you do this, you get into vibrational alignment with that reality and the path opens up.
Beyond writing the book it means developing as a speaker, building my audience, moving in the right circles. You see your vision isn’t just a vision: it’s your intention for your life and to move anything from ‘intention’ to ‘reality’ you must act in line with that intention. Do you see?
A lorry drove past a little too close to my left arm. The wind pushed me into the gutter and it brought me back from my train of thought: I’d been writing in my head as I was running.
Ideas, sentences and whole chapters play out with each step and I was writing this chapter.
And then something weird happened. I had a sort of vision…of my future self. I could see ‘me’ in 12 months’ time: published, fit, happy, speaking on stage and doing what I loved. I had my black Mercedes SLK, my villa in Ibiza and I was baking every day. I saw a flash of her. Me, 12 months from now.
Running up hill, soaking wet from the rain and panting from the incline I pointed into the future stating: ‘I see you Lisa and I’m coming for you. I am you. Thank you’.
It occurred to me that everything I have today, the woman I am today is thanks to the intention I had set 24 months prior. It was thanks to the big, bold, brave actions I’d taken to change my life.
I had become my vision.
My life was the sum of the new rituals I had built. My body was a reflection of my running and my new vegan diet. My new clients had come to me because I had launched my dream business and told my story. I was over depression because I had learnt about chemicals in the brain, I’d quit coffee and I was being true to myself.
These things don’t happen overnight. They build, over time. You become what you do every day.
A vision will only come true if you act, today, as if it were inevitable.
‘Thank you, Lisa’, I shouted in the rain. ‘THANK YOU’. I reached the end of my run, flung my arms in the air as if I was entering the stage to deliver this talk and I cried. I let it all out.
Then I walked home, fired off only the urgent emails and invested the rest of the day writing this book and working on my online course (Make Your Move). This is what they mean when they say ‘do something today your future self will thank you for’.
You are made up of everything you have or haven’t done so far.
You vision isn’t your future: it’s the life you’re building right now.
So let me ask you again:
What do you want to be celebrating 12 months from today?
How do you want to feel each day?
What does your perfect day look like?
And what are you going to do about it, today?