Committing to 15 minutes a day

When we have a dream to work toward, it can be so exciting! Especially at first! All the good ideas are flooding our brain. We’re talking to friends about it! Maybe we’re posting about it on social media. We might make to-do lists about specific steps we’ll need to follow to manifest the dream.

But… after that initial excitement phase, sometimes we can fall into a rut. The buzz wears off in the chemistry of our brain. Most of our friends already know about our dream. There’s nothing new to post about it. Fears and doubts may begin to creep in. (“Oh, what about this aspect of things? I hadn’t thought of that.” “Is this really realistic?” “Do I really have the time or energy to take on a new project?”)

Day-to-day tasks and other priorities can start to crowd in, too. And before we know it, a month or two after we got lit up with Such An Exciting Idea!!… it can start to fade away.

Does this pattern sound familiar to you?

One strategy I have used effectively to combat this is to dedicate 15 minutes per day to my dream.Actually, to be fair, it’s kinda 30 minutes. But still totally doable. Here is what it looks like:

After my workday at my “day job”, I need to shift mental gears. So, when I get home, I sit down and dedicate 15 minutes to emptying my mind. I turn off the ringer on my phone, and set the timer for 15 minutes. I sit on the couch and mentally review the day so far. I reflect on what has happened during the day, and how I felt about those things at the time—good and bad—and how I handled things. I notice if I am proud of how I responded to a challenging situation, or perhaps acknowledge if I didn’t handle something as well as I would have liked. In either case, I note the event and my emotions and responses, and then let them go. (I sometimes find this to be a helpful gratitude exercise: often I remember cool little things that happened during the day that I would have forgotten if I hadn’t taken this time of reflection.)

By the time the ringer sounds, I feel more grounded, and the second half of my day is ready to begin.

Then, I set the timer for another 15 minutes. This time, I focus on visioning toward my dream. I think back briefly on the day again to see if anything has moved toward the fruition of my dream. (Did I contact someone? Did someone contact me? Did I write something? Did I get a new idea and jot it down?) Then I spend some time just smiling, and enjoying what my dream is. I imagine how it will feel as it unfolds. For example, since my present dream involves bicycling around the United States and Canada, I might imagine how I’ll feel while riding through a beautiful national park or a redwood forest. I allow myself to fully enjoy the feelings of a dream well manifested.

Then, I let my mind gently float toward small, manageable actions I could take to move toward it. Is there someone I could contact? Is there some topic I could research on Google or social media? Is there something I could write? Generally, without much effort, one or two such action steps float easily to me, and I make a mental note of them.

When the timer goes off, if an action step seems easy and quick enough, I might do it right then. If it will take more time or energy than I have at that moment, I’ll instead write it on a to-do list for later.

Fifteen minutes is a magical length of time. It seems small enough that it feels manageable. Yet, in the brain it is enough time for substantive forward motion to happen. I even use the 15-minute “trick” to do various other kinds of tasks in my life. Maybe I’m struggling to do an ongoing chore, or to read a challenging book. I can tell myself, “Hey, just set the timer for 15 minutes, and see how much you can do.” Sometimes I get a lot done in 15 minutes. Sometimes by the time I invest that time, I have built up enough momentum to continue on with the task. But I know I don’t have to, and that is the key.

If you haven’t tried this, I urge you to give it a go. (It doesn’t have to be in the early evening, either; it can be at whatever time of day works for you. You can break up the two 15-minute segments and do them at different times of the day, too, if that works better for you.)

I have spoken with many of you about your dreams. Can you set aside 15 minutes of each day for visioning them into fruition?

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4 thoughts on “Committing to 15 minutes a day”

  1. Thank you! This is a good reminder for me. It’s amazing how difficult it feels to stop everything even for five minutes.

    1. Thanks, Alek. And yes, isn’t it? Making that choice to do so can feel so weirdly hard, but then once you do it, it can be so transformative.

  2. This was very helpful for me. It was specific guidance, and feels do-able. I am usually pretty good at making my visions come true, but there are some areas where I find it difficult. Your guidance will help me move those more challenging areas along. THANK YOU!!

    1. Thanks for letting me know, Diane! You have always impressed me with how you make your visions come true… but, yes, we all struggle with it sometimes, eh? I’m so glad you found this helpful.

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