I was in California again recently for another retreat. This time I was a participant, not the leader. I’m in a wonderful, pinch-myself place in my business and my life. My intention for the retreat was to discover – or rediscover – a vision for the future.
I also just wanted to hang out with horses.
I was at an Equus coaching retreat! Equus coaching is just what it sounds like: horse-facilitated coaching. Why? Horses are prey animals and very sensitive to energy, so they act as a sort of big, beautiful biofeedback for humans in Equus coaching. I read about it years ago, before I ever became a coach, and dreamed of doing it ever since.
So, there I was in the round pen with Blossom, a chestnut mare. Renee, one of the master coaches, asked me what I wanted.
The earth was soft underfoot. After Renee asked her question, the only other sounds were bird song and horse whinnies. The sky was brilliant blue, the sun was warm, and the breeze cool. The ranch was tucked into the Santa Maria Valley, surrounded by the Laguna Mountains. There were a few buildings, but mostly all I could see were trees, earth, sky, and Blossom.
This, I thought. I want this.
Aloud, I said a thing that surprised me: “A +10 life.”
A +10 Life
In the Wayfinder Coaching model, +10 refers to the best something can get – joy, falling in love, flow. Martha Beck told us in coach training that we “should all have +10 lives!”
“What? All the time?” we said, skeptically.
“Yes!” she confirmed, emphatically.
I was bewildered. But in the years since then, I’ve begun to understand what she meant.
She means don’t settle. Discover what you truly desire and don’t stop until it’s yours.
Desire is powerful! In my New Year’s Intentions blog, I likened it to an elephant, and you to the rider of that elephant. Because desire is such an engine for change, life coaches have all kinds of ways of helping you access it.
We need these access tools because there are parts of our mind that fear the power of desire and talk us out of wanting what we want. After a while, if we’re not careful, we forget our desire and settle for what we have.
But I agree with Martha. I think we’re meant for bigger things than what we would settle for.
I found my bigger thing – yes, a ranch in California, the girlhood dream that I forgot – in the round pen with Blossom. I recommend an Equus retreat if you can get to one. But you don’t have to go that far to find your thing.
I’m going to share with you my favorite exercises for accessing desire – this one, what do to when you don’t know what you want, and a tool to help you find clarity. They’re my favorites because they are easy, little, and mighty.
Exercise #1: Make a List
Write at the top of the page, “It would be amazing if.” Then write a list of 50 things that would be amazing.
The prompt is important: “amazing” sets your sights on something out of the ordinary; “if” gets you dreaming. The length of your list matters, too: the longer it is, the deeper you have to dig, and the likelier you are to hit upon a desire that you buried long ago because it was “unrealistic.”
Only after you have 50 items, narrow it down to your top ten most amazing desires. Let the top ten be ones that light you up, give you a feeling of expansion, or make the top of your head tingle.
Then narrow it down to five, again using your body as a guide. Yes, you can rewrite if you need to!
Okay, are you ready? Now narrow it down to one.
I implore you not to give up at this point and pick the most sensible desire. Stay with this process and let your body be your guide. As the poet Mary Oliver says, let the soft animal of your body want what it wants. If the top choice isn’t obvious, close your eyes and envision each desire as a reality.
Which one feels like a +10 life?
How Not to Forget Again
A new dream, like a butterfly fresh from a chrysalis, is vulnerable. So, ask for support. Share it with trusted intimates. Ask your mind for the evidence that your dream makes perfect sense (it already knows all the reasons it’s “unrealistic.”). Find resources.
Also, celebrate. Toast to it! Play music and dance! Refresh inspiration daily!
Please, tell me: what did you discover?