“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” – Zig Ziglar
These four words are my mantra for a more focused fuller life. They work both ways. If there are thoughts or actions that are not productive, don’t bring positive results, or are just unnecessary distractions I will stop them from interrupting my day by holding an image of them in my mind and meditating on the phrase: Don’t think, don’t wonder, don’t plan, and don’t care. It is usually very effective at least in the short term. More effective in the long term is to decide what is important to me either right at that moment, or in the long run and to hold an image of that, say family and friends, in my mind and meditate on the phrase: Think, wonder, plan, and care. If these were just words to me they would not be effective, but these four words have a very specific meaning for me.
Think – My mind and I’m sure most people’s minds, moves constantly, sometimes in directions that we don’t expect. Sometimes an outside stimulus brings on a thought, sometimes another line of thought takes a twist, or a tangent, and other times a thought comes to mind that seems to come from nowhere. While I don’t think we can control the generation of these thoughts from moment to moment, I do believe that the attention that we give them when they come to mind will slowly affect the frequency of a certain thought or type of thought.
Wonder – If there is something, a thought, an activity, or even a skill that we want to indulge we should explore it more fully. That exploration should begin with wondering. We should wonder about the why, how, when, and where of the thing that has come to mind. If it is an adventure we want to have, figure out why people do it and why we want to do it. How is it done? Is significant planning required? Do we need to prepare physically, mentally, or financially? When is the best time to do it? How long will it take to prepare for it? Where is it done? Once we have fully explored the subject, if we are still committed, it is time to go beyond wondering.
Plan – A lot of the leg work for planning is done by wondering, but there are still other “personal” consideration to actually planning. If you are exploring an adventure the planning phase is pretty straight forward, but what type of planning is required for a thought that could change your life? Well, what good is that kind of thought if you don’t figure out what to do with it? How will it change you? How can you apply the thought to your life? How can you share the thought with others? If this is going to change your life, how do you explain the thought to important people in your life. It was worth thinking and wondering about be sure to take the time to come up with an effective plan!
Care – Once you have a plan, the only thing that will change that plan into reality is to care. This thing was important enough to think about, wonder about, plan for, now it is time to take action. Caring is not something that can be just “turned on” once the plan is place, it is something that will build up slowly as you go through the other steps. If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t have gotten this far. However, thinking, wondering, and planning doesn’t automatically lead to doing. There are lots of unrealized dreams that are unrealized because the person never acted to make it happen. They cared enough to dream, but not enough to act. The level of caring that I visualize leads to action. Follow the plan, adjust where needed, and make it happen.
My wife looked over my shoulder while I was working on this post, and gave me a terrific compliment. She said that since she met me no other phrase would describe me better than “Think, Wonder, Plan, and Care”. I don’t usually react in the same way as most to compliments… I’m my own toughest critic. However, in this case, and for this period of my life I totally agree with her. I use this blog to motivate myself to continue living a full life, but at this point I know if I never wrote another post, there is no way I would lose my zest for life and my drive to live life to the fullest. I approach life’s possibilities with the mantra “think, wonder, plan, and care”.