Make Your Dreams Happen with Optionism

One of my childhood dreams is to go trekking in Nepal. You may or may not relate to this dream but have your own dreams. You can use what I’m about to talk about for making YOUR dreams happen.

A dream is something that moves you. You have a connection to it. I learned about the Himalayas when I was a teenager. I read the book “Four Against Everest” by Woodrow Wilson Sayre published in 1964. I was fascinated. I couldn’t put the book down until I had read the very last word.

Trek in the Himalayas “Someday”

The “bug” to see the Himalayas “someday” and get as close to them as I could without putting myself in harm’s way stuck with me throughout the years.
You noticed the words “someday?” For too many people those words translate to “never.” What is happening to their dreams?

In my experience, we think about it on and off. We debate it in our heads. There are obstacles. Lack of time. Lack of money. Kids need to be taken care of. The business or job is getting in the way. And so on.

Most People’s Dreams Die a Quiet Death

But do we sit down and WRITE it all down? Really look at it and examine the possibilities? Most people don’t – and their dreams die a quiet death.

A few years ago I invented a concept called “Optionismâ„¢.” I define it as the “art and science of identifying and creating more options for a happy and successful life.”

Often we think of decisions as Yes/No options. Go to Nepal or not go to Nepal. Option A or B? Usually, we do this in our head, and we think the same thoughts over and over again. I sometimes call that “looping”.

Let’s take my dream of trekking in Nepal as an example. Recently, the Nepal dream came back into focus for me. A dear friend asked me whether I wanted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with her. That sounded cool! Then I thought “Wait if I can do that why not go to Nepal instead? That is my real dream!” I asked my friend. “Want to go to the Himalayas instead?” She said yes. Horray! I bought maps and a guidebook. I had lunch with a Nepalese friend of mine who gave me helpful information.

Then reality set in. The first one was the trip needed more time than my friend had available. Then a wave of Covid cases hit Nepal. Other doubts started to creep in. What about my family and my business? Could I be gone for long enough to do this?

My dream was starting to wobble. Could I still do it? Yes or no?

Now, let’s use Optionism here – no, it is not a typo. Not optimism but optionism (option-ism), i.e., it is about exploring options.
I say when you have trouble making a decision it is because you are not looking at enough options.

  • Instead of “yes” or “no” let’s come up with more options.
  • Then weigh the pros and cons of each option.
  • It is critical to identify questions that you have about each option.
  • You can’t be effective in doing this in your head. You have to write it down!

This is where I’m at with my Nepal dream right now. I thought I can share that with you as an example. Then you can do the same thing for your dream, ok?!

I’ve put my (preliminary) analysis into a table. It is simply a list of five options, their pros and cons, and the questions I thought of.

Here are the Keys to Doing This

  • Write it down! Stop “looping” your thoughts in your brain.
  • Identify/ create more than two options!
  • Write down all the pros and cons you can think of for each option.
  • Identify your questions and find answers to these questions! That is where the true “gold” lies.
  • Get inspired by your research, make a plan and go do it!

One last thing: Do not overdo this. Do not overanalyze it and then get stopped by that!

I’m Curious

Which dream have you been sitting on? Come on, let’s go! Go do it. And I invite you to use Optionism to explore your options – more than just two, ok?!?

Live Brilliantly,

Dr. Stephie

P.S.: I appreciate you commenting and sharing this Brilliance Nugget with others. Thank you!

Stephie Althouse

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