Imagine Your Life as Good as it Could Possibly Be…

I recently read a study that shared the benefits of imagining our ideal self. It is not a daydream that it is a waste of time, but rather, it has real measurable benefits.

Why? First, imagining our ideal self and our ideal life improves mood. It takes us to a more positive mental space. If improved mood in itself isn’t enough, being in a more positive mental space helps us make better decisions that will then lead to a better life. Also, when we focus our mind daily on this version of our self and this version of our life, it is simply more likely to happen. We are more focused on creating this life and more intentional in the decisions we make. We look for and find opportunities we may have been blind to otherwise.

I can look at my own life as a case study, and see how true this is. When I was in high school and college I used to journal everyday about my ideal self and my ideal life. I would journal about my ideal college, my ideal spouse, my ideal job..etc. I remember months or years later almost being in shock when I would look back at old journal entries and the things I envisioned were all coming to fruition.

The qualities of a college I journaled about somehow describe the college I attended. The qualities of a future spouse I journaled about somehow describes that qualities of my husband. The qualities of the job I journaled about somehow matched the job I landed after college. Was this by pure chance? Probably not.

We create our own realities.

With that being said, I know sometimes things definitely do not go as planned. There are unexpected losses that come about and twists in our life that we did not expect and did not ask for. But, this study still carries good news. We have control. We have control to move forward. We have control to create a better future for ourselves. Do we have control over everything? No, there are times we have to let go of control. But be careful, don’t give away your power. Don’t let yourself just be tossed by the waves, without realizing the control you truly have to steer your life in a different direction.

But as I am sure you know, there is no steering without movement. And you must have vision first, so you know which way to steer.

So it was after college, when I stopped journaling. I had met my husband and started my job and was ready to just float for awhile. It’s okay to float for a little while. We do not need to be tirelessly pursuing something every single moment. But I floated too long. And I began to get confused about how I ended up where I did. I began to get confused about what direction I was going in the first place. I began drifting. And the destination was not where I intended to go.

If you are not actively moving forward, if you are not actively steering, you are drifting. With drifting, I suppose there is a chance you might just happen to drift toward something desirable. But my guess is, if you are reading this blog, the drift did not serve you well. You have drifted to somewhere you did not wish to go, and you are ready to move forward in a new direction.

I am happy to say, I am no longer drifting anymore. Am I sailing fearlessly ahead at full speed? Okay, maybe not. But I’m paddling. It takes some work, for sure. And there will definitely be some rapids to move through. But, whatever you do, don’t just be carried by the waves. Cast your vision and start moving forward.



Below is a reflection journal exercise I came up with to help you start focusing on your ideal self and ideal life. Please feel free to come up with your own questions that will guide your thoughts in the direction they need to go. Journal about specific areas in your life that come to mind. If you want to skip these questions altogether and just journal free association thoughts about your ideal life & self, you can do that instead. Just keep in mind that the more days a week you do a practice like this, the more effective it will be.


Imagine your life as good as it could possibly be.

What would it be like?

What would you be like?

What would you no longer struggle with?

In what ways would you be more fulfilled?

How would you spend your days differently?

Imagine how your mornings would be different.

Imagine how your afternoons would be different.

Imagine how your evenings would be different.

How would your thoughts be different?

What would you spend your time and energy on?

How would you make a positive impact on the world?

How would you give hope to others?


And to put you into motion…

Imagine that life starting today.

Imagine how you could think differently today.

Imagine how you could plan your day differently today.

Imagine doing something that would fulfill you today.

Imagine how your morning could be different today.

Imagine how your afternoon could be different today.

Imagine how your evening could be different today.

What could you spend your time and energy on today?

How could you make a positive impact today?

How could you give hope to someone today?

How could you give hope to  yourself today?


If you would like to read more about the study I referenced, you can see it here.

If this article or journal questions impacted you in some way, I would love to hear about it.



Find Your “Live Meaningful” – Journal Activity & Action Steps



Think about what you would do if you could do anything. Pretend for a moment that you didn’t have to make money. Pretend you had endless amounts of time. Pretend you had no obligations. Pretend whatever you wanted to do didn’t cost money. Pretend there was no such thing as unrealistic. Pretend there is no such thing as “shoulds.”

What would you do?

Think of what you are passionate about. Think about what makes you feel fully alive. Think about times in your life that you felt “fully alive” – what were you doing? What are you excited about? What have you been excited about in the past?

What gives you a sense of meaning? When has your life felt meaningful? Has your life ever felt like you were on a mission or journey? Why did it feel this way? If you never felt this way, could you imagine a life in which you felt this way?

What are your talents? When do you feel you are most using your talents? What are you good at that you also really enjoy?

If you could use your life to help others – who would you help? Is there a people group you would feel passionate about helping? Is there a struggle you have overcome, that you would be passionate to help others to overcome? Is there something inside of you, that needs to come out, that needs to be shown to the world?

How could you impact the world? How could you impact others?

What do you love to do? What makes you feel like a kid again? What so completely immerses and engages you that you lose track of time?

What brings you joy? Not a good feeling, or entertainment, or even laughter.

But joy, in its truest sense.

What thing, if you did it, would make life make more sense? Would make you believe again that life has purpose and you have purpose.



I want you to begin to journal about all the questions listed above. Think very slowly and very deeply. Make sure you decide to do this journaling activity when you actually have time to. This exercise will not be as helpful, unless you spend time in deep reflection. Answering these questions should take up several journal pages.

The key to this journal activity is not to limit yourself. Many times we feel lost and don’t even know what we want to do, because we have never allowed ourselves to think about what we would do, if we could do anything. We often think of barriers first, which is the quickest way to shut down our dreams.

What I am asking you to do, is think about the dream first, and barriers second. For this journal activity there is no thinking of barriers allowed!


After completing the journal activity, you hopefully have some idea of what you love, what brings joy, what your talents are, where your strengths are, what you would do if you could do anything.

Now you can think about the barriers.

Make a list. I would keep the list to 5 points or under. You are looking at the main barriers. It may just be 2 or 3 things, or it may 5 things. Either is fine.



Look at your list. For each barrier, write down a way you could do the thing you want to do, with this barrier in mind. You don’t even have to necessarily overcome the barrier, you just have to come up with a way you could do it despite the barrier.

Here are some examples of what I mean. You can write it out in this format.

What I want to do:

I want to share my insights and ideas with others.


I am introverted and shy.

Alternative Options:

Rather than share my insights and ideas in group settings, which is difficult for me, I could share my ideas on a blog.

For alternative options, I would actually think of a few ideas if you can. Brainstorm a little bit, and then you can decide what the best option is. Also, I am not saying there is no place for overcoming barriers, but this is often a long process and we probably haven’t overcome the barriers yet for a reason. Instead of waiting to overcome the barrier, find a way to work with it.

I wrote a bit about this in my post 5 Ways to Live More Meaningful in 2016, but common barriers often seem to be time or money.

The same strategy can be helpful for these, which is minimalism. What can you give up in order to get more of these things?

Could you give up an extra hour of sleep and give yourself more time so you could get up early and write in the morning? Could you give up a weekly activity to give yourself an evening to invest in your passion? Could you give up going out to dinner every weekend and invest this money into your passion? Could you give up having new clothes, and use the money you would have spent, on your passion?

Also, don’t ever fall into the trap of thinking that your passion is not worth spending your time and money on. This is your life. This is important. No one gets to their death bed wishing they didn’t spend time or money on their passion!



Take a look at your list of your alternative options.

Are they perfect options? Probably not.
Are they options that will move you more toward your passion or dream? Probably so.

Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. There are ways you can start moving toward your goals now. Don’t halt this process because it is less than ideal. You will be glad you took these steps, even if they aren’t perfect.



If you are anything like me, you can spend a lot of time overthinking things, and never actually move forward.

This is why I suggest that you commit to something that will propel you forward.

Here are some options:

Find a Guide – Find a mentor, counselor, or coach. Someone you commit to meet with at least weekly or bi-weekly to help you toward your passion/dream. It is easy to get excited about an idea, but then let it fall by the wayside as soon as work, routines, and reality enter back into the picture. Find someone that is dedicated to helping you get to where you want to be – they will help guide you down the path, and it will be a lot harder to forget about this dream, if you are meeting with this person regularly.

Take a Class– Take a class that will help you get to where you want to go, even if you don’t know exactly what that looks like. Take a class on your passion – whether in person or online. This class may help inspire more ideas and depending on what kind of class it is, you may also be able to connect with like minded individuals on a similar path as yours.

Attend a Conference– Is there a conference that is held about your interest/passion? Conferences are often a great source of inspiration and again, a way to connect with like minded individuals. You may attend the conference not knowing why you are there, but may leave with an idea or inspiration to take a new direction in your life.

Start googling! Look up local counselors in your area. Look up online coaching that might be a good fit for you. Think of a mentor that might be helpful to you, and consider asking for their mentorship. Look up classes. Look up what is offered on Coursera or other free class options. Look up if your favorite bloggers are offering a class. Look up classes at your local university that you can audit – or look into online university classes. Look up conferences – whatever you are interested in. There are conferences for everything – writing, photography, counseling, mental health, youth work…the possibilities are endless. Sign up for a conference and put it on the calender.

You know what would be the best fit for you, but whatever you do, do not end this activity without an action step. Commit to something!


That thing that you do, after your day job, in your free time, too early in the morning, too late at night. That thing you read about, write about, think about, in fact fantasize about. That thing you do when you’re all alone and there’s no one to impress, nothing to prove, no money to be made, simply a passion to pursue. That’s it. That’s your thing. That’s your heart, your guide. That’s the thing you must, must do.   -author unknown

Go do that thing that fills you.

Find what fills you with joy. Acknowledge and accept the barriers and use your creativity to find a way to do it anyway. Find sources of inspiration and people who will help guide you along the way.

But whatever you do, don’t ignore it. It is there for a reason.




How to Struggle Gracefully


This post is for anyone who is in the midst of struggle, whether big or small.

There is no denying the struggle is there.

But, is there a way, is there such a thing, as struggling well?

Are you flailing your arms everywhere in fear of drowning?

Would you be willing to try floating instead? Until you make it to shore?

Struggle is a part of life and we must accept this, at least to some degree. But maybe we can struggle a little bit differently. Maybe there is a better way to struggle.

I know struggling gracefully sounds like an oxymoron. And I am not saying that there isn’t a time for venting, frustration, and crying. But sometimes, not for anyone else, but for ourselves, we must learn to struggle gracefully.



The first step to struggling gracefully is the obvious – give yourself grace. But not only yourself. Give your life grace.

I shouldn’t be having this struggle.

Give yourself grace.

I should be over this by now.

Give yourself grace.

I never thought this would be a problem I would have.

Give yourself grace.

As you may already know, much of a struggle, is the struggle we give ourselves. Either for having the problem in the first place, or not knowing how to fix the problem quick enough.

We also must give our life grace, and allow it not to always be perfect.

I didn’t think my life would go this way.

Give your life grace.

I didn’t expect to have this problem in this time in my life.

Give your life grace.

If you are a parent, or could imagine being a parent, my guess is, you would want to be a parent that gives grace. Sure, you could have high standards for your child, but you would allow them to make mistakes, have slip ups, and give them time if they don’t have everything figured out right away.

Do the same for yourself. Give yourself grace. Give your life grace.



Sometimes when have a struggle in our life, we have a bad habit of turning our whole life into that struggle.

It feels like we have to spend all our time and energy on that struggle until it is completely resolved. We can’t enjoy our lives in any capacity, until the struggle is over.

Again, I am not saying there is not a time to be problem solving and addressing your issues. There definitely is.

But, you also need allow time for enjoyment. The only way you are going to be able to cope with this struggle is by still giving yourself the “good stuff” of life, to balance out the “not so good stuff.”

Maybe your life feels really “not normal” right now…all the more reason to get out and do something normal. Go out with friends and do whatever it is you usually do with them. Allow yourself to be distracted from the problem and experience normal life. Allow yourself to have fun.

Also, allow yourself to do something that really interests you. Become completely engaged in an interest of yours that has nothing to do with your current struggle.

Even in the midst of your struggle, remember there is such a thing as fun, normalcy, and interest. Access these things as you are able to.

I am not saying ignore your problem, but don’t spend all your waking hours focused on your struggle. Spend some time forgetting about it.



Give your struggle meaning. Think about how you may be able to help someone someday because of the experience you are having now.

Victor Frankl, the psychiatrist behind this approach, did this very thing in his own life. He was in a Nazi concentration camp nearing death, and the one thing that kept him alive was the thought,

One day I will use this experience to help others. One day I will share these stories and help others with their own struggles, because of the pain I have gone through.

And he did. He spoke at conferences, he wrote books, he helped patients in therapy.

He changed lives.

By thinking this way in the midst of the struggle, he gave his own struggle meaning. Struggle is never easy, but if we can give our struggle meaning, it changes it. The experience becomes richer and deeper, even if it is still painful.

I have experienced this myself. I went through a bout of intense anxiety – something very different than the mild everyday anxiety I was used to facing. I feared my anxiety would overcome me, and keep me from living my life normally.

But in my fear, I had the thought,

This isn’t fun. I don’t like this. But this is a learning experience. And as I learn how to move through this anxiety, and once I overcome this anxiety, this experience will give me insight that will help me help others who are also facing this same intense anxiety. This experience will give me knowledge I would not have otherwise had.

Of course, the struggle still remained a struggle, but after this thought, the struggle had meaning and the struggle had purpose.



This goes along with having a meaningful perspective.

What are you learning because you are going through this struggle? What wisdom are you gaining? What insight? What skills? What character traits?

We never wish struggle into our lives. But we tend to learn a lot from struggle. Struggle is often the best teacher.

When I was going through the bout of anxiety, I kept thinking to myself:

This is a crash course in Mindfulness. This is a crash course in Mindfulness.

I know that seems kind of funny, but it helped. I have always wanted to develop my mindfulness skills, but the truth was, I truly was not good at anything related to mindfulness and meditation. And although these skills would have always been helpful in my everyday life, I was able to manage without them.

Until the anxiety hit. I had no choice but to learn these skills. My anxiety would start. I had no choice but take deep mindful breaths. I had no choice but to mindfully focus my attention. If I didn’t do these things, it would turn into a full blown anxiety attack.

Was it fun? No. Did it teach me mindfulness skills that will help me throughout the rest of my life? Yes. Definitely yes.

What is your struggle teaching you? Once you move through this struggle, what lessons, wisdom, skills, insights do you get to take with you because this happened to you?

Every struggle leaves you with an amazing gift card, make sure you redeem the value of it.



I know that being grateful is one of the most difficult things to do while in the midst of a struggle. And I know it also sounds funny to think of it as a gift you give yourself. For most people, having gratitude feels like work.

Well, it is a discipline, at least. But, a discipline that is very rewarding. Exercise is also a discipline, but there are wonderful rewards to be gained from it.

When you are within a struggle, gratitude may feel the hardest, but this is the time that it is most important.

Yes, maybe your life feels like it’s falling apart right now. But, what is in it, to feel thankful for?

Supportive friends?
Supportive family?
A warm cozy home?
A passion to write?
Something you are good at?
Hope for the future?
Wonderful memories in the past?
A job?
Your life?

Write down everything you are grateful for. In a time of suffering, it is incredibly important to remember and think upon these things.

And if you can tie gratitude to your suffering, do that. Maybe you have become closer to your friends or loved ones because of this suffering? We don’t need to call the suffering “good,” but there is likely some kind of gratitude that can be found within it.



I once worked with a client who was going through a difficult time. She expressed the difficulty of her struggle but shared that her grandmother’s words of wisdom had helped her tremendously,

Honey, everything in life is a lesson or a blessing.

It’s true really.

And honestly, I think we often experience both at once.

We struggle in our marriages, but have friends that are wonderful blessings.

We struggle with our finances, but have family that is loving and supportive.

We struggle at our job, but have a passion that fills us with joy on the weekends.

There will always be a struggle in your life that is teaching you a new lesson. It will challenge you in ways you may not wish to be challenged. But take the challenge, embrace the challenge, own the challenge. And when it is over, reap the fruit of your labor.

And remember, along with these challenges will always be blessings. Give gratitude for these blessings. Enjoy them fully.

Life is not a lesson or a blessing.

Life is a lesson and a blessing.

Accept this truth and live out a journey full of wisdom from hardship, joy from hope, insight from difficulty, and blessing from the many gifts you have been given.



I know that I have gained a lot from reading blog entries and I also know if I took the time and journaled about them for a few minutes they would affect me in an even deeper way and bring me to some truths I may have not come to otherwise. So if you have a few extra minutes and your journal handy…here you go!

1. Where do you need to give yourself grace and your life grace? Are you able to give yourself grace in the challenges and imperfections you are facing in your life right now?

2. How can you work on experiencing enjoyment in the midst of your struggle? What is something fun or interesting you can commit to doing today or this week to get your mind away from your struggle?

3. How will you give meaningful perspective to your struggle? How could you help someone else because you traversed this struggle?

4. How will you redeem your struggle? What gifts of knowledge, wisdom, insight, or character traits are being gained because you are going through this struggle?

5. What do you have to be grateful for, despite your struggle? Or because of your struggle? Jot down at least 10 things you can have gratitude for.

6. Do you believe life is both a lesson and a blessing? Where are your lessons right now? Where are your blessings?


Let me know if this entry helped you in any way, if you have any further questions, or if there is anything else you would be interested in learning related to this topic!

Also, I would love to hear how you are learning to “struggle gracefully” in your own life.

Thanks for reading!



How to Slow Down Time and Live Life More Fully


Does your life ever feel like endless routines?

Wash the laundry. Dry the laundry. Fold the laundry.
Make a grocery list. Go to grocery.
Put gas in the car.
Pay the bills.

You power through five days to complete your work week, but your routines follow you into your weekend. Soon enough it is Sunday night and you realize you spent your whole weekend with your chores, with your routines, and with your to-do lists.

Don’t get me wrong, routines have their benefits for sure. And chores need completed. But, if you take a look at your current life, and all it is are these routines and theses chores – then something needs re-evaluated.


Did you know that you can literally slow down time?

Okay, yes, of course, there are always 60 seconds in a minute, and 60 minutes in an hour.

Time may actually be objective, but our experience of time is subjective.

I know the old adage is “time flies when you are having fun” and time can feel slow when you are bored. This is true in a sense, but time can fly when you’re not having fun too. Even if my days at work are stressful and full of routines, work weeks still go by pretty fast. Even if they weren’t necessarily “fun.”

I am talking about something different. I am talking about when we are engaged in new experiences that completely immerse us… it is in these moments that time actually slows down.

Have you ever experienced this on a vacation? I remember taking a trip with friends to Colorado. The days felt so long and so full.

Why did the days feel this way? Because my mind wasn’t on autopilot. When you do the same thing over and over your mind doesn’t need to slow down to process anything. But when we live our life and our days in different ways, our brains take longer to process what is going on because it new, and in a very real sense, time slows down.

Why does time seem slower when we are kids, and seems to speed up once we are adults? This is exactly the reason. Our childhood was filled with all kinds of new and different experiences. But once we become adults, unfortunately, we often end up doing the exact same thing, the exact same routine, day after day, and then wonder how our life passed us by so quickly.

So we must do something new. The good news is, these changes don’t always have to be huge life altering changes. Which is really good news, because stability is quite important to me and maybe you too? I once had a year where I lived in three different states, four different cities, spent time with four different friend groups, and had seven different jobs/internships/volunteer positions all in one year. Needless to say, this was a very exciting year in which time “slowed down.” Also, needless to say, I was mentally unwell, burned out, and desperately yearned for some sense of stability.

So, I am not saying you have to drop all routines and all stability to slow down time. But you do have to do something different.

Here are just a few very simple ideas you can incorporate in your everyday life…

Go into work at a different time.
Go out for breakfast Saturday morning.
Go for a walk in nature.
Spend time with someone you don’t usually spend time with.
Do something very different than what you usually do on Friday night.
Volunteer one day a week somewhere new.
Go to a different church one weekend.
Take a new class.
Spend all of Sunday one weekend doing crafts instead of chores.
Make a really fancy dinner Saturday night.
Invite your friends over.
Invite your family over.
Shop at a different grocery store.
Take a different route home from work.
Re-arrange your living room.
Read a new book.
Get up later on the weekend than you usually do.
Get up earlier on the weekend than you usually do.
Try a new discipline in the morning – writing, reading, journaling, meditating, exercising.



The point is, do one thing different! Anything! It will change your perspective. Your mind will not only slow down, but you will begin thinking differently.

Slowing our mind down, in turn, helps us live more fully. Our mind slows down and is more able to appreciate the little things.

When I tried going into work at a different time, I noticed that the sunrise stood out to me in a way it hadn’t before. I couldn’t even remember what the light was like when I drove to work usually. I had become too accustomed to it.

When I re-arranged my living room, every time I walked into the room I felt an appreciation I didn’t usually feel. I would think What a cozy little room..what a cozy little house we have.

Doing something different helps slow down our minds so we can appreciate the little joys in life that are often overlooked.

Doing something different also makes life feel more fresh, vibrant, and full. But, this can be misused. If you are in a committed relationship but feeling “bored,” it would not be my recommendation to move on to someone else for a sense of newness and excitement. However, I would recommend that you and your significant other engage in a new exciting adventure together.

Personally, I have struggled with feeling spiritually stagnant in recent years. I have a commitment to my faith. I attend a church whose values I very much agree with. But, something about attending the same church every week and hearing a similar message every week, has left me feeling stagnant. I have learned that I can stay committed to my church while also hearing a new perspective within my faith tradition from an outside voice. Whether I agree or disagree, hearing a different perspective helps me engage my faith in a new and different way. My mind is forced out of autopilot.

Hold on to your commitments while finding ways to engage and breathe new life into them.



Do you take cues from the past or the future?

I used to take all my cues from the past. If I was feeling sad, bored, or unengaged in my life I would look to the past when I was feeling better. What was I doing then? And how do I replicate it exactly?

I am not saying the past does not have good data to offer us. It does!

But, we can’t always take cues from the past. If we are always looking to the “good ol’ days” of the past, we will never experience the greatness the future has to offer us.

I mentioned lots of little things you can do to appreciate the small everyday moments a little bit more. But, if there are rumblings of bigger changes inside of you, do not ignore this!

Don’t force something that used to make you happy, make you feel happy now. You are growing. You are expanding. Let your life grow and expand with you. Don’t control your life to fit an old version of yourself. The old is passing and the new is becoming.

Do something new in your life!


I know that I have gained a lot from reading blog entries and I also know if I took the time and journaled about them for a few minutes they would affect me in an even deeper way and bring me to some truths I may have not come to otherwise. So if you have a few extra minutes and your journal handy…here you go!

1. Have you ever had the experience of “slowed down” time? When and why did you experience it? What was that feeling like?

2. Do you feel stuck in routines in your life right now? What small things could you do to have a new experience, “slow down time,” and engage in life more fully? Make a list of a few things you could commit to do in the upcoming week.

3. Are you taking cues from the past or the future? How could you let go of the “good ol’ days” and start living into the greatness of the future? Did anything specific pop into your mind when you read “Do something new in your life!”


Let me know if this entry helped you in any way, if you have any further questions, or if there is anything else you would be interested in learning related to this topic!

Also, I would love to hear how you have been able to slow down time, live more fully, and embrace newness!

Thanks for reading!