From Dr. Jane's Notebook
So, What's Next?
Human beings are both guided by their thoughts, and they can take an active role in
designing their thoughts. Essentially, our minds contain mental maps which guide us into
the future. As our lives change, our mental maps become updated. If we choose, we can take
an active role in designing our future; otherwise, there will be times when we feel as
though we are drifting along aimlessly or colliding with the rest of the world in some
out-of-control fashion. Ill use myself as a case example.
- We all go through times of personal transition. One phase of life may
be coming to an end; another may be just beginning. During these times, it is easy to feel
confused and less confident than usual. I have just completed my doctorate after four
years of intensive study. Now that graduation has come and gone, I find myself thinking,
"what was I going to do differently after I finished school?"
At times like these, life begins to feel like a good book that is missing chapters at
the end. In reality, those chapters have not yet been written. Our task is therefore, to
create an outline for how we want those next chapters to turn out.
- Those around us change and grow. Some activities are so
absorbing, they take over our lives for a time. This is often true of parenting, your job,
the commitment to take care of someone who is sick, and other extended time activities.
The more time they occupy, the less time we have for other pursuits. But when these
commitments change (the kids move on to college, we change jobs, loss of a loved one), we
must negotiate a new future for ourselves or be willing to accept the one that "just
happens to us".
- Life experiences change the way we think. If we are lucky, we
learn useful lessons from our experiences. However, these important realizations are soon
forgotten if we dont take note of them. I just returned from serving as a therapist
on staff for the March of the Living. I was privileged to accompany 240 teenagers
on a two-week trip through Poland and Israel. In Poland, we were part of a larger group of
7,500 people retracing the steps of our ancestors, who were forced to march to their
deaths from Auschwitz I to Auschwitz II (Birkenau) during World War II. The effect of this
trip will remain with me to the extent that I am able to digest its meaning. Some
experiences are more difficult to digest than others.
- At times, we must stop and reflect upon our goals. Most of the
joy in setting goals is the hike in self-esteem we get from checking them off our list. On
my 40th birthday, I decided that I wanted to complete my doctoral studies by my
45th birthday. It really helps to establish a time frame for your objectives.
The Rosen-Grandon Method for Designing and Updating your Mental Map.
With pen or word processor at hand, create the following inventory of your life: (1) Roles
and activities that are NOT changing; (2) Roles and activities which ARE changing; (3)
Things Id like to do in my life; (4) One or two new activities or goals that
Id like to pursue next.
Sometimes, we have the opportunity to take some time for ourselves and become refreshed
before starting new enterprises. This is a great time to get some rest, gain a new
perspective, and re-program the mental map of your future. Without careful planning,
however, the next big task can begin pressuring us before we are physically or emotionally
ready to take on something new.
In step 4, write down the required steps for this activity in as much detail as
possible. This is how we re-program ourselves. The design and updating of your mental map
may take a few hours or a few weeks. Fortunately, you are the editor-in-chief and can make
as many additions or corrections as you please.
Just as our unconscious minds are programmed to maintain our body functions (such as,
breathing, blinking, sleeping, awakening), our unconscious minds can also be programmed to
carry out the decisions we make (such as, to quit smoking, lose weight, get a new job).
When our vision of the future points the way, all parts of our mind and body begin to move
toward that goal. While it is possible for good things to just happen, success is more
accurately achieved through our own plans and objectives.
ęCopyright, 1998, 1999, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
Return to Personal Growth
Return to Table of Contents
Last Updated February 27, 1999 by Gary M. Grandon,