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Something I’ve long taught my coaching clients is that you can’t create what you can’t imagine.
I recently learned some fascinating brain science research that seems to suggest too that you can’t imagine what you can’t REMEMBER. << My overly simplistic version but keep reading to see that it’s not all that far-fetched, and why it matters!
Let me explain.
First, memory recall, across the board, is very inaccurate and therefore very unreliable. This is true across all ages. The evidence is abundant that your memory, and mine, is weak at best. From witness identification errors, to recalling personal circumstances of past experiences. It’s been widely documented that most memories are totally erroneous despite the fact that people believe they are remembering accurately.
Bottom line: When it comes to memory recall, inaccuracies are consistent.
This begs the question: If memory is so unreliable and inaccurate, what then is the evolutionary purpose of memory?
Scientists have wondered, if it’s not for the value of accurate recall, what is memory FOR?
Another important discovery: Those with memory disorders (whether due to a traumatic brain injury, or Alzheimer’s, or brain surgery where part of the brain was removed or impacted in a way that caused significant memory loss) … these folks don’t only have trouble recalling the past, they ALSO have tremendous difficulty imagining the future!
This fascinating fact has led scientists to a new theory about the evolutionary purpose of memory: That memory’s evolutionary life-sustaining purpose is less about accurate recall and more about how the function of memories enables and supports the ability to imagine the future.
Ok. Here’s where all these dots connect in my mind:
As someone whose entire educational foundation, extensive experience, and decades-long career has been centered around psychology, human behavior, and systems change … this brain science theory makes a whole lot of sense to me!
Here’s one way to think about it:
Imagining the future is a bit like painting a picture.
“Paint me the picture of what you would like your life to be. Help me see it with you.” << This is something I often ask my clients to do, so that I can see, imagine, delight in, and ultimately help them move forward to CREATE their desired future.
But – what if you were asked to paint a picture and you only had blue and black to paint it with?
How vivid a painting could you paint with just that limited palate?
Not very, amiright?
So … circling back to my opening statement that you can’t create what you can’t imagine, let’s break it down:
You can’t create what you can’t “see”.
And you can’t see what you can’t imagine.
And, perhaps too, you can’t imagine what you can’t remember…in the sense that memory serves as the palate you draw from, and therefore can create from.
The science suggests that memories support imagining!
And you know what imagining supports? Innovation.
Your memory therefore supports – or limits – your ability to design your future, to innovate about what’s possible.
Isn’t that fascinating?
THIS is why when a client comes to me feeling uncertain about what they want in their life and the picture of their desired future feels blurry and vague, a great place we often start is: remembering.
Drawing from your PAST, from your life experience, you have decades of recall opportunities about what you want to create, design, and experience going forward.
As you imagine, and reimagine, your future, a great place to start is to recall what has been fun, luscious, joyful, dynamic, nourishing, life-enhancing, and pleasure-filled from your past — be it 5 minutes ago, or when you were 5.
The science suggests that the more you are able to pull from what’s stored in your memory, the more colorful, luscious, and dynamic your future can be!
This is just one piece of what we unpack together in my 6-week No-Vacation-Needed Blueprint Training – enrolling now for just $197.
Let’s reimagine together.
One key is to BECOME an embodiment of the person who LIVES your dreams, who HAS your dreams, who knows it’s certain and steps into that, day after day.
You must ‘self actualize.’
What do I mean by self-actualization?
Self-actualization is not an arrival. It’s not a fixed point. It is not a place at all. It’s an expression. It’s an evolutionary unfolding. A process of not only becoming, but creating your life to reflect that becoming.
The fullness and manifestation of self-actualization can be measured by how much of your life mirrors the magnificent, embodied, unapologetic, expression of YOU that you have become.
Your life is either full of evidence of a high degree of self-actualization, or it is full of evidence of a high degree of self-abandonment. This is a spectrum that leaves little room for gray because your emotional guidance will tell you clearly which one it is.
While not a fixed arrival point, self-actualization will bring countless savory moments when you kick back, drink in your life, and say to yourself, “f*ck yes.”
“This is MY life and I adore living it. I am so incredibly proud of everything I’ve created and how I’ve grown and what I’ve learned in order to get HERE. And now, here I am. I am here. Here is good, and luscious and I love it. I am SAVORING this delicious waking moment … because it is beautiful. Not perfect, mind you, but utterly aligned nonetheless. Beautiful in its unique-to-me expression, and in this, I also acknowledge my own beauty and imperfect perfection. Gratitude for this one incredible life fills my soul, created as only I could, as the one and only me. This life is so on point and I am lit from within about it, while also excited and inspired about all that’s in process and all that I’m creating next because I know that, it too, will only heighten this expression, this beingness, catching up with the latest parts of me that are surfacing and igniting the next levels of my expression. And should I die today, I will do so knowing I died happy, delighted, and inspired.”
When you look at your life and see the many many ways it reflects the beauty and truth of who you are … that’s your evidence of self-actualization .
Nothing is more gratifying.
It’s the kind of joy that fills you up, that lights you from within.
In contrast to this, when you look at your life and think “no, this isn’t right’ ‘I feel trapped’ ‘this isn’t the real me’ ‘I don’t want to do it this way’ ‘how did I get here and how do I get out’ ‘this doesn’t align’ ‘this isn’t who I am’ ‘this isn’t it for me’ ‘‘where the heck is the I in this life I have?’ ‘how do I get where I’m meant to be’ ‘I wish someone would save me’ ‘I’m so tired’ ‘my soul aches’ ‘when does my life rise up to greet me and welcome me home, to myself?’… then (obviously) this is not ideal. It absolutely sucks. I know because I’ve been there. To stay, to keep going, to keep doing the same things in the same ways for another day, perhaps with the same people, is one more day of self-abandonment.
^ This is the polar opposite of self-actualization.
Spoiler alert! Your life will always be lagging a bit behind your becoming. Since as long as you’re alive you’re creating, there’s always more to recalibrate and adjust to best reflect what you’ve discovered or revealed or uncovered about your beingness. There’s simply no way around this.
BUT – when you’re in a space of confident self-actualization even the lag time feels welcomed, glorious even, because the process of creation is an art form that you enjoy.
You know that arrival is a myth, and that evolution is ongoing.
You embrace and delight in the unfolding and trust the outcomes completely.
You are not suffering or surviving in the interim.
You are engaged and inspired.
You are alive in the ALL of it.
You are thriving.
There is always more to discover, create, and be. As you seek on a quest for a meaningful, joyful, impactful, satisfying, successful life (one that you aren’t aching to escape to Bora Bora about) … it’s an expanding spiral upward, a helix of becoming who you are meant to be, self-actualizing and living a life that is so aligned and joyful it IS the expression of the WHO that you’ve become. And as you become that WHO even more, new levels of desire are revealed and deepened, and expansion and new possibilities become possible for you.
PS – If you are ready to become the person who LIVES your dreams, apply now for my FREE Top Shelf Session with Tara Assessment, a 1:1 conversation where you will gain clarity on your dreams and how they reflect and empower the person you are becoming, insight into what’s been holding you back, and a renewed sense of hope about how to courageously break free of obstacles to achieve what you want with a customized strategic plan for your desired future.
PPS – Not quite ready to talk about actually living those dreams? Not sure what your dream life even would LOOK like? I have something for that too.