Draw a much better future for yourself

drawing

Words by Peter Switzer

On Thursday, I was sitting in the office of an Italian villa called Fontelunga (where we’re staying in Tuscany) doing my Talking Lifestyle radio program called On the Money. Thursday’s program is usually called Radio Russian Roulette, when anyone can call in and ask any question they like that’s hip-pocket related.

Last week, we called it Radio Riviera Roulette, as I was on the Italian Riviera and I guess I could’ve called it Radio Rustico Roulette, as the villa is Tuscan rustic with a capital R!

Source: Fontelunga.com

Anyway, in the office, there was an inspirational message on the wall that said: “If you can dream it, you can do it!” And while I totally agree with the sentiment of Walt Disney, I instantly thought about US-based Patti Dobrowolski, who did a great TED talk in 2015. I reckon she’d say “If you can draw it, you can do it!”

Patti’s talk (you can watch it here) is a bit “out there” but if you stick with her, the logic she employs is inspirational. I have to say after watching her 10-minute pitch, my wife Maureen and I did as we were told and instantly took action to make our dreams come true. We’re not usually this compliant. Maybe it was the effect of being under the Tuscan sun!

Apart from being a great illustrator, Patti has the starting point assumption that we all have dreams of a better life, be they work, business, family or whatever.

But she says there’s a disconnect between what you want and whether you’ll ever get it that can be reconnected by pictures. And they don’t have to be pretty ones! Even if you’re no Michelangelo, you still can make it happen.

She argues we’re locked into behaviours that stop us making the progress from dream, to dream come true.

Research says the odds of making a change to your life is 9/1 and that’s even if you’re facing a life-threatening illness! For change to happen, Patti says you first have to see it, then you have to believe it and then you have to train your brain to make the change you want happen.

When I started to listen to her, I instantly thought about visualisation, which the dictionary says “is a mental technique that uses the imagination to make dreams and goals come true. It uses the power of the mind, and is the power behind every success. By visualising a certain event, situation, or an object, you attract it into our life.”

I’ve always liked the idea of it but it seemed to lack a process that would force an ordinary person to do something extraordinary, such as really commit to what has to happen to make the changes needed turn a dream into reality.

This is why I liked Patti’s processes. Her starting point is the power of a picture.

If you don't believe me, think of these two:

Source: AAP

Source: Field Guide to the Kokoda Track (Bill James) and the Australian War Memorial Website

The company Roche asked Patti to draw a picture to capture what the company stood for. Before the picture was drawn, 40% of staff knew what the company stood for. After the drawing, 96% understood it.

She says we should draw a picture of our current unwanted state of employment and then draw one of what we might want, say running our own B&B at Byron Bay. By putting them side-by-side, with a gap in between, you have a roadmap, which is like the starting point on a NavSat. You know, I’m now in Florence but I want to drive to Modena to see the Maserati factory (which is something I’ll be doing in a couple of days). 

Patti says to win ourselves over to our dream, we have to trick the left side of our brain, which is “the critic.” If any side of your brain holds you back, it’s this one, as it’s great at warning us about potential dangers or threats.

She says we talk to our left brain and say “I’m not really going to do it but I just want to imagine it.” When you’re imaginative or creative, it means you’re using the right side of your brain and this sucker will buy into anything with positive possibilities.

The picture you draw has heaps of great things going on about the new business, the new life, the new network, the new attitude, the new bank balances and the overall new positivity. Even when I put this ‘drawable’ picture into words, it gets you positive, doesn’t it? It’s quite instructive what the right side of your brain is capable of, if you let it run away with the positive possibilities!

Patti says you should colour your picture and make it a work of art. I reckon if someone really believed all this, they could take their sketch to an expert drawer/artist to make it more pleasurable to look at. I know it sounds excessive but this is all about your future. And why wouldn’t you invest in your own fulfillment and happiness?

This question gets to the crux of how serious you are about actually having a better life. It gets back to the 9/1 chances of any of us actually changing.

That said, Patti argues that you get so much power from drawing your own picture but I’d suggest that if you paid to make it better, it says something about your commitment to take your life to a new level. (I must get her on my TV show and argue that one out.)

But hey, this isn’t just a motivational thing to pump you up psychologically. This drawing and colouring your dream actually is scientifically good for you.

The actions of dreaming, drawing and colouring on top of the whole positivity-engendering nature of the activity actually releases serotonin and oxytocin, which leave you “feeling happy, creative, capable and cool,” Patti insists.

OK, so far so good. The big challenge is how do you get from the current picture to the future picture?

She says it’s simply three steps. You have to get your brain on side but by talking to it, you can get it to play ball. 

First, you have to see it and that’s the purpose of the picture. Second, you have to believe it. And finally, you have to act on it.

The second step is critical and that’s when the left side of your brain will slug it out with the right side of your brain. Herb Elliott, our greatest male Olympic track athlete ever, once told me that his success came from beating this little voice inside our heads that talks us out of doing big, hard things. Herb says this really explains why we fail when we want to succeed.

After talking to Herb, it seemed to me that you had to change a want into a need and that’s when you do everything to make it happen because your inner you NEEDS it!

And this is where the pretty picture plays a role and so does the ugly shot of your current life, because the contrast is so stark, you can’t help but want what you see. You know a picture paints a thousand words, so it’s a quick motivator. Remember the shots I showed at the beginning, well what you create becomes a hell of an important picture for you and everyone around you!

The great thinker Dr. Wayne Dyer once wrote a best-seller book called You’ll See It When You Believe It but Patti’s pretty picture process actually helps you to see it, which helps the believing process.

And finally, you must act, using Sir Edmund Hillary’s secret to climbing Everest. When he was asked how he did it, he simply said “one step at a time”. I think he said he didn’t look up because that vision might have made him think that the task ahead was impossible and that would be such great fodder for the left side of your brain.

Patti recommends you get the key people in your life involved in your dream so you don't run away from it. They can help you.

It takes guts but isn’t a happier, better and more fulfilling life important enough to turn your want into a need by simply drawing what your destiny should be?

I think so.

Your first step might be to look at this TED talk.

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