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To get something you have never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.” (anonymous)

This is one of my favorite sayings, and I keep it on the wall across from my desk, just to remind myself every day. It tells me that I have to be aware of my thoughts and ideas, of the thoughts and ideas of others, and of the wonderful new things humans are doing daily that improve our circumstances and our lives. It reminds me that I want to be a part of new things and new ideas.

I want to reach out and seek new possibilities when they present themselves. It’s a matter of staying open to them. Staying open has resulted in new work, new relationships, and new growth. If you want these new opportunities and possibilities too, here are the seven “rules” you must follow. Each of them involves embracing change.

A Word about Change

We don’t like big changes. They force us outside of the comfortable and cozy bubbles in which we live — with our friends, our jobs, our social activities. Our lives are scheduled and predictable. We resist things that threaten that comfort.

But we don’t grow unless we look around us, realize that the world is changing, and decide to explore the possibilities that those changes might offer us.

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Rule #1: Visualize the New and the Different

Most of us have thought about other “lives” we might lead. The department manager dreams about owning his/her own business; the accountant would love to be a writer; the housewife thinks about going back to school. Most of us also tend to believe that these opportunities are not really possible. We have obligations and responsibilities. Here is the first step to opening up. Before you fall asleep at night, visualize your dream. See yourself doing what you dream about. Add lots of detail as you do this. What are you saying? What are you wearing? Who is around you? Where exactly are you? Keep adding to this picture until it is complete, and, once complete, replay that picture as often as possible, throughout the day. What we place our thought upon, that is what we attract in our lives. And when you keep that picture in your mind, circumstances will begin to unfold to bring that visualization to possibility.

Rule #2: Don’t Restrict Yourself

We grow up with restrictions. Some of these we allow others to place upon us and some we place upon ourselves. We may be told that we should consider trade school instead of college; we may tell ourselves that we have reached our wall in terms of our career, and that we will just need to stay put and continue to save for retirement. We may have a deep-seated mindset that we will never be rich or have that great relationship. We feed the thought that we are just not socially brilliant and will never have a larger group of friends and associates. All of this thinking restricts what we can attract in our lives. We adopt the behaviors that go along with our “restrictions,” so we don’t even see new possibilities when the Universe presents them to us. And we certainly don’t seek new possibilities. We stay in that comfortable bubble of mediocrity and sameness. And at the end of our lives, we will wonder if things could have been different. The answer is “yes” they could have been.

Wayne Dyer had a wonderful saying related to restrictions: “Don’t die with your music in you.” Within you is a person of unlimited possibilities, but restrictive thinking let that “music” out. Today, right now, begin to say to yourself, “I am a child of the Universe — I can be all that I choose to be.” This must become your new mantra.

Rule #3: Take Risks

There are many variations of a post the periodically makes the rounds on Facebook. There are various images for this post, but in essence it states, “When I finally go, I do not want to go peacefully. I want to go out yelling ‘Woo hoo, what a ride!’ ” That “ride” means taking risks and having the life adventures that come with them. Playing it safe will let you go out peacefully, of course, but what about the adventures? Start that business; go get that degree; jump into that relationship; go on that protest march to support something you believe in; join that little theatre group and put yourself on stage; write that book; compose that song. Life is for adventures.

Ask yourself — what is the worst that could happen? That business would fail? You would flop as an actor? You get arrested on that protest march? Your book doesn’t sell? So what? The adventure is what counts, not the outcome.

Rule #4: Stop Judging

When we judge other people, we don’t define them; we define ourselves as judgemental people, and that’s not pretty. When we house the attitude that anyone with a lifestyle or beliefs that we don’t accept is wrong and to be avoided, we close ourselves off to amazing possibilities. Are you a Christian? Go visit a mosque. Get to know Muslims in your community. Are you a career professional? Join a club or group with people from all walks of life. One of the best things about Alcoholics Anonymous is the total democracy of the organization. Here are people who are corporate executives sitting in meetings with day laborers; here are Ph.D.s sitting with high school dropouts. Here are whites, and blacks, and Orientals, and Latinos, and Muslims, all sitting together with a common cause, not judging each other — they are supporting one another.

Don’t judge — accept, embrace, and love.

Rule #5: Never Stop Learning

You don’t have to go back to school. If nothing else, you have the library, TV, and the Internet. Drink up knowledge. With knowledge comes understanding. And with understanding comes all of the possibilities that the Universe has to offer you. You may find a new career path; you may find an organization to join; you may find a new cause. And you may gain great confidence in your ability to learn and to use that learning to benefit both yourself and others. You might also discover that you have much more to talk about at social gatherings, making you someone that others find interesting, even fascinating. “Oh,” as Dr. Seuss said, “think of the places you will go.”

Rule #6: Meet New People

Many of these other “rules” speak to engaging with others. But this needs to be a rule all by itself. You have no idea of the possibilities that may open up when you put yourself out there as a person who is genuinely interested in others. Whether you begin by striking up a conversation with the person next to you in the checkout line or by joining an organization in which you know not one person, possibilities will come from the least expected places. You will meet that person who thinks your idea for a business is terrific and wants to support it; you may meet that person who calls you one day and offers you a terrific position; you may meet that person who is destined to be your life partner. If you are not constantly seeking new connections, then wonderful experiences are passing you by.

Rule #7: Travel

You may not have the wherewithal to trot the globe right now. How about to the other side of your state? Travel opens us up to so many alternatives and possibilities. We see new things that excite us; we meet new people who inspire us; we see situations and conditions that we can work to improve. We experience small towns and big cities; we see new gifts of nature. All that we see is then absorbed by our consciousness and becomes a part of who we are in an expanded “world” that may trigger new goals and dreams.

Seven rules. Which are you willing to take on right now? Even if you start with just one of these seven, your life will change, and in a good way. And all seven are interdependent. One will certainly move you into the others.


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