We all have hopes and aspirations for our lives. Fulfilling or walking the path to fulfillment of just one of our dreams can infuse our lives with deep meaning and happiness.
The subject of this article is a strategy that is as powerful as it is simple. I call this strategy “compartmentalization” and it is something you can use daily for the achievement of your wildest dreams no matter their size or scope.
It was Thomas Carlyle who expressed the following wisdom:
Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.
Simple, isn’t it? How, though, can we each apply this wisdom in our daily lives with the view to achieving our greatest dreams?
Navigating the Seas of Life
I would like you to imagine your life as a ship, a great ocean liner navigating the stormy seas of life. Within this ship, which is your life, are three compartments. The first compartment at the rear is your past. It contains all your yesterdays, regrets, and could-have-been’s. The middle compartment is today. It is the endless right now of the present moment. The final compartment at the front of your life-ship is your future. It contains all your hopes, dreams, worries and paralyzing anxieties.
You will notice, as you picture your life-ship, that between each of these three compartments are enormously strong bulkheads. Right now those impenetrable steel doors between each compartment are open and cracks in your past compartment and your future compartment are causing your today compartment to flood. Because the bulkheads are open you are frantically working the pumps to keep your life-ship from sinking, to keep your head above the waters of the stormy seas of life.
Picture now, those impenetrable steel bulkheads closing and locking tight. Sealing off the torrent of worry and anxiety that was roaring into your today from the past and the future. You don’t have to worry about either of them any more. You’re safe and secure in the compartment of today. You no longer have to man the pumps. Instead, you can get down to the very pressing business of today. You can set to the things that you can do today that will bring you that one step closer to your dreams.
An Example: Blogging
When I first started my blog I set very ambitious monthly traffic goals. I did this because if I hit those targets it would show me that blogging was something worth pursuing further. Then I wrote down what methods I would use to bring in that traffic. I called this The How. Then I chunked down each point on The How list to daily activities. For example, each day I would write three helpful forum posts and make two insightful blog comments. At least every second day I would write a new blog post. Every week I would write a guest article for another blog and every two weeks I would make blog carnival submissions. This way each day I knew what I had to do and I could just set about doing it, confident that what I was doing was taking me one more step closer to what I wanted.
By living in a day tight compartment I didn’t waste time and energy thinking about whether this would work out of not. There was no need to dwell on the price of failure such as whether starting a blog is going to be wasted time and effort. I didn’t think about the other things I could be doing instead of pouring my heart and soul into my blog. I didn’t dwell on how if I had gotten into blogging earlier I would be so much further ahead then I am now. All that represents water flooding in from the past and future compartments. Instead I closed the bulkheads and got down to the business of achieving my dreams. Otherwise I would have been stuck endlessly manning the pumps while my life-ship slowly sank, taking me with it.
Realize Your Dreams
You can see that I planned for the future. The difference between what I did and what so many of us do is I put down the burden of anxiety about tomorrow and regrets about yesterday. By living in day tight compartments you free yourself from slowly drowning in a paralyzing sea of anxiety and worry. Realizing your dreams will be impossible if you constantly live in such a state. Rather, take time to think, make a careful plan, then each day take the action that is a necessary step towards the fulfillment of that plan.
As Thomas Carlyle said, be concerned with and do what clearly lies at hand, each and every day.
Photo by Han S.