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The Self-Discovery Digest

by Elizabeth and Katherine Hirsh
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July 2009 Archives

On May 25, 1961, before a joint session of the US Congress, John F. Kennedy shared his goal of putting a man on the moon before the end of the decade. This week marks the 40th anniversary of the fulfillment of that vision: the Apollo 11 moon landing. Looking back at this historic event we are inspired by the notion that each of us has the opportunity to make a life enhancing giant leap if we can find the courage for that first small step.

Steps to get started:

1. Articulate a clear and energizing personal mission. You don't need to frame this in presidential, competitive terms as happened in the US-Soviet Space Race, but you do need to have a concrete idea of what your goal is and why it will feel wonderful to achieve it. Don't worry about being fancy. Craft your vision as truthfully and plainly as possible. As you imagine your goal, don't be ashamed to start simply: small steps added together become giant leaps.

Example: I will exercise.

2. Establish a realistic but ambitious timeline. You may not want to announce your plans to the whole world as Kennedy did, however deadlines help us to move from contemplation to action. Sharing your ideas with at least one other person as well as writing your plans down helps you make your mission more real and build in accountability.

Example: I will exercise two days this week. At the end of this week I will re-commit to this goal and consider adding an extra day. At the end of the second week, I will do the same. Eventually, I plan to exercise seven days a week.

3. Ask for help and collaborate. While what people remember is the moon walk (which lasted only a matter of hours), it was only through the commitment of thousands of people working together as well as years of preparation that this challenging objective became a reality. But years and thousands of people aren't necessary - a moment, a day, a few weeks, and your friends, family, and colleagues are more than enough to make things happen.

Example: I will ask my friend, who also wants to start exercising, to exercise with me. I will ask my spouse to encourage me to stick to my plan. I will ask my colleague to take a walking lunch break with me.

4. Believe in yourself and celebrate what's terrific about you. In the final seconds of the approach, Neil Armstrong had to take manual control of the Eagle Lander and steer the craft around boulders to safely reach the moon's surface. You need not take such dramatic action, but an appreciation of your strengths will give you the confidence to handle the roadblocks that do arise. As you go forward, remember that obstacles are really signs that you are making progress - so take heart and keep moving.

Example: I can grow and develop and I like making healthy changes. I have made positive changes in the past and I can do it again. I have a great sense of humor and when I feel my motivation dropping, I will choose to find the humor in the challenge.

Self-Discovery Tool Number 13
Use the ideas and examples above to create the components of your personal mission. Take a small step to bravely launch your dreams. Enlist support to help you overcome challenges and sustain your resolve. Recognize your worthiness and enjoy yourself as you forge ahead!

In the United States, we celebrate the 4th of July as Independence Day. This holiday is very dear to us Americans because it is an enduring symbol of our ideals and a time to re-commit to living them - but you do not need to be a U.S. citizen to appreciate these sentiments. The Declaration of Independence states, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [people] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Such an important mandate - why not apply it to our personal lives?

Consider the questions below then create your very own Declaration of Independence.

  • What are your personal truths?
  • How do you define liberty and a life worth living?
  • Are there people or things that are affecting your sense of freedom or your pursuit of happiness - either positively or negatively?
  • Can you find the courage to take a stand for what matters to you even if this is unpopular with certain significant people or institutions in your life?

Fill in the blanks to craft your Declaration of Independence.

I hold these truths to be self-evident (choose three):

I define happiness with these qualities (choose three):

I create happiness in my life with these people and activities (choose three):

I recommit to cultivating my sense of liberty and happiness in these ways (choose three):

Self-Discovery Tool Number 12
Celebrate what's special about your contribution to the world by living your own unique version of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Embrace your personal recipe for freedom and joy by seeking out a least one person or thing by July 4th that brings you a smile and makes you feel good about being alive!