I devised this exercise some years ago when I needed to find a new home. I’d just attended a workshop on creating your own reality and was greatly taken with what I’d learned so I carefully noted down everything I wanted in my dream home and then set about trying to find it.
No one was more astonished than I when a few weeks later I was offered a house to rent that not only ticked every box — when I checked my blueprint I saw I had inadvertently written down ‘telephone line’ twice, and the house had two telephone lines running to it. This is a powerful exercise!
The technique can be used for a range of possibilities but, for the purposes of the illustration, I’ve chosen a dream home.
You will need some paper and a pen or pencil and, initially, an hour or so of uninterrupted time. But this is an on-going exercise, something you can keep adding to until you’re completely satisfied with the end result.
What’s crucial to success is identifying the limiting beliefs most of us hold that we can’t have what we want, that we don’t deserve it, that it’s not possible. That’s the hard part — but help is at hand.
Start by writing ‘My Dream Home’ in the centre of the page and drawing around it a circle, a heart, whatever takes your fancy. Now you’re going to sketch in lines leading out from the centre, like a star burst, and write down all the things you want in your dream home.
You can start by writing down basics like electricity and gas supply, mains sewerage, telephone line, or you can assume those are going to be there anyway. Are you going to own this home or rent it? Write down things like ‘freehold’ or ‘good landlord’ and ‘affordable rent’. Do you like sleek and modern or something more traditional? Is it important that your home is well insulated, has central heating, double glazed windows? Write that down.
How many bedrooms will it have? And why do you want that number? If you want one as an office or a workroom, could you as easily have a dining room that doubles up? Are you trying to fill your needs for both now and in the longer term? Is this home going to last you forever or are you creating something for now, knowing that as your needs change you’ll be able to create another dream home? (You’re going to have to answer an awful lot of questions to get clear about what you want, but it’s going to be worth it. You can’t get what you want until you get clear about what you want.) When you’re quite clear about how many bedrooms write it down.
Do you want a separate dining room and kitchen or would you prefer them combined? Write it down. What kind of kitchen do you want? What will it have in it? Washing machine? Tumble dryer? Would you prefer a separate utility room? Write it down. Do you love cooking or are you someone who does the absolute minimum on that front? Will you need lots of equipment or very little? A breakfast bar or the kind of large kitchen table that everyone can sit around?
This is your dream you’re creating here and you make up the rules as you go along. If you find yourself thinking ‘I’ll never be able to afford that,’ keep reminding yourself this is a game, this is a dream you’re creating … for now! This is what I mean by letting down your walls of belief. Doing this exercise not only helps you get clear about what you like and what you want, it also helps you get in touch with those beliefs that stop you being who you really are and getting what you really want. The more work you do on this the greater are your chances of success because you’re also working on your subconscious, giving it encouraging affirmations, wiping the old negative tapes and replacing them with new, positive ones.
When you get to the point where you’ve had enough for now, stop. You’re doing some really hard work here and you need to acknowledge that. We’re generally much better at quantifying physical work than mental effort and it’s important not to overdo things at this stage otherwise you’ll end up exhausted, especially at the beginning. Put it to one side and come back to it later but try and set aside a brief time each day, or perhaps three times a week, to keep working on your blueprint.
As your vision grows start imagining yourself in your dream home, walking around it, looking at each room. How do you feel? Are you comfortable? Does it reflect who you are, who you’d like to be? What colours predominate? Lush, rich colours or something more subtle? Are there carpets, wooden floors, rugs and runners? Is it full of things, a cosy, family home or is it elegant and minimalist? What do the doors look like, the walls, the lights? If you change your mind about something as your vision develops that’s fine. Just change it on your blueprint. It doesn’t matter how messy it gets. You can always do a neater version as you get more clarity.
Are there any absolute essentials you couldn’t live without? Do you need to be near public transport, within easy reach of the shops, close to people you care for or care about? Would you prefer to be out in the countryside or in the middle of a town? Are you passionate about the sea and dream of living within sight of it? Don’t listen to the voice that says ‘in your dreams’. Write it down. Is your dream home somewhere hot and sunny, a retirement home abroad, perhaps? Just put yourself in that place, imagine it, smell the scents, see the colours and create your home in the local style.
Is there anyone else to take into consideration, other members of the family, family pets? It’s probably easier to do this exercise if you’re doing it just for you but I’m assuming your dream home will accommodate what family you have so I guess you might have to make a few compromises. If a husband needs a garden shed to take refuge in, a garage to store assorted paraphernalia, build it into your blueprint. If the kids need somewhere to store their bikes, if the rabbit needs some grass, put it all down. Is there a dog that needs exercising — do you need to be near to a common area?
Do you want a garden? How big will it be? Who’s going to maintain it? Will there be hedges, fences, walls? Are you bothered about being overlooked, about privacy or would you be happy having neighbours you can chat to over the fence? Will there be a vegetable plot or just flowers and shrubs — what kind? Put it all down.
Something that needs to emerge through doing this exercise is a sense of responsibility for what you’re creating — and that’s a tricky one. On the one hand I’m saying ‘go for whatever your want’ while on the other I’m saying ‘you have to take responsibility for what you create’. But there’s no point in dreaming up a home like something out of Footballers’ Wives if you’ve got small children which means you’ll have to cover up the swimming pool and spend all your time picking up their toys in a vast garden.
It doesn’t make sense to want a large garden with a vegetable patch if no one in the family has ever picked up a trowel, or to want an elegant, minimalist home you’ve seen in a classy magazine when you know you’re really untidy and perfectly happy with that. You need to be realistic. This dream home has to be in line with your values and what you want out of life.
Keep working on your blueprint until you’re confident you’ve covered every possible detail. Then start putting energy into moving towards that dream. What are you going to need to do to move you closer? What are you going to have to let go of?
The most important consequence of doing this exercise is gaining clarity about who you are and what you want. We so often spend our lives vaguely dissatisfied, not sure what we want but quite sure that we don’t want what we’ve got. Ultimately you may end up taking a few tiny steps to bring your dream into reality — clearing out stuff you no longer need, changing the use of a room from, say, a bedroom into a workroom or office. Or you might move on in huge leaps and acquire exactly what you wished for (even down to that second telephone line!)
You may decide you’re not quite ready for such major change, that there are other issues to resolve first. That’s also fine. You might want to put your blueprint away for a while and come back to it in six months, a year. It just might astonish you to look at it after that time and see that some of the things you wrote down have appeared, as though by magic. You see, once you get really clear about what you want, what you want tends to find you!