Dream Challenge: Create a Mini Guide Memory Deck

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Catherine Hughes

Director of the 8 Women Dream Project at 8 Women Dream
Catherine’s dream is to make 8 Women Dream the premier online publication for women looking to pursue their dreams. She is a published author, a freelance writer, and a guide for those who want their dreams to come true online. Catherine would someday like to be invited to speak at TED about her observations about her 8WD project inviting women to take a chance on their dreams. Wine was required... Catherine posts on Sunday evenings and fills in dream stories as needed. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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Dream Challenge: Create a Mini Guide Memory Deck

I have long been a fan of career counselor and best-selling author, Barbara Sher.

Her powerful dream road maps for living the life you love got me started on this road of dream exploration – why it works for some people and not for others.

As this new year begins its journey, it’s the perfect time to think about a dream road map for the year. Where do you want to be one year from today? What will your life look like one year from now?  Do you have a plan? Have you even thought about it?

One of my favorite things about Barbara Sher is that she likes to keep things simple. She understands the power of resistance and how keeping it simple plays tricks with our resistant mind.

Sher’s specialty is coming up with simple ways for YOU to help YOU stay on track, stay motivated, and break your Live the Life You Love: In Ten Easy Step-By Step Lessonspassion down into manageable bites.

Today, I want to recommend her use of “Memory Decks” to challenge you to work on your dream this year instead of falling back on the same thought over and over: “I would like to work on my dream” (as you change the channel on your TV or stare at your Facebook stream) then putting it out of your mind.

Before I go into detail as to what a Memory Deck is, keep in mind that you can be more creative with this idea than what I offer below. Develop a deck that suits you and your life. Make it something you love.

Barbara recommends that you use index cards for your Memory Deck, but I would create this in whatever way works for you. You could use something you put on your iPhone – if you are addicted to using it, or use a small black writing book that you always keep with you, or use a tablet you always leave next to you at your creative space.

A painter could create small paintings of this idea and hang them where she paints, or a homentrepreneur could place them on post it notes on the wall next to them. Do whatever works for you.

Use technology if you can make it work.

Create a Memory Deck —

Prepare 9 index cards with the following:

Card #1. Write down your dream.
Writing your ultimate dream down on paper, or on something you look at everyday reminds you what you are meant to be. It reminds you of all the beautiful possibilities out in the world waiting for you.

Card #2: Write down what motivates you.
In my 8WD article, The Secret of Making Your Dreams Come True I shared how you can figure out what your motivational triggers are. Motivations doesn’t have to be either positive or negative — they just have to work. Write down your motivational triggers on this card. It could be anything from taking a class to financial gain.

Card #3: Who has your back?
Write down the people you can contact who are willing to support you and hold you accountable to your dream. Don’t have any? Try creating a Facebook Page, or a Pinterest Board and as strangers to be your support. You’d be surprised at how many strangers are willing to help you stay on your dream path.

Card #4: What are you feeling?
Checking in with your feelings helps you understand why you may or may not be taking any steps towards your dream. Common feelings are:

• Being open
• Happy
• Alive
• Good
• In Love
• Interested
• Positive
• Strong
• Angry
• Depressed
• Confused
• Helpless
• Indifferent
• Afraid
• Hurt
• Sad

This list will help you check in to see what you are feeling at any given moment. All too often, we think we don’t know what we are feeling when the truth is that we do, but we can’t seem able to put our fingers on what feeling we are feeling.

Dreaming big brings up all kinds of emotions on any given day. Understanding when you are sad and don’t feel like working on your dream allows you to see this feeling without placing blame. Allow yourself to feel the feeling with the knowledge that this is part of the journey. You’ll find that when you admit or recognize a particular feeling it allows you the freedom to move forward and not be distracted by the emotions that bubble up from nowhere.

Card #5: Your stumbling blocks.
Do you check Facebook when you could be taking your next big step? Write, “Just say no to Facebook!” Do you watch TV more than you should? Write, “Turn off the TV a half hour earlier today!” Do you talk on the phone to avoid being alone? Write, “Phoning someone to chat won’t make that speech!” (or insert whatever your dream task is).

You get the idea. Write down all of your time wasters like reading junk mail, sorting junk mail, cleaning the bathroom when it is already clean, shopping when you have enough, and so forth.

Card #6: Re-connection.
Write down the things you love to do that you haven’t done in years. Ride a bike? Play basketball? Lay on the lawn watching the clouds roll by? Eating an ice cream cone in a park on a sunny day? Skipping? Dancing? Singing? Taking a class? Planting a flower? Digging in the dirt? Ice skating? Write a poem? Whatever they are — write them all down — but only the ones that bring you joy. Then do one each week.

Card #7: Challenging resistance.
Every dreamer resists. It’s a natural part of the dreamer’s journey. Having a plan for when it suddenly appears can mean the difference between continuing on or finding a reason to quit. Pick the smallest unit you are willing to do and fall in love with it.

If you dream of being a marathon runner, but become out of breath when you walk from your front door to the street so you find your dream is too overwhelming to start, then fall in love with the idea that you can just walk to the end of your driveway and back. Then the end of your street and back. Create a list of all the little things you can do that can move you forward when you find yourself resisting, like “Get out of bed on time!” “Walk instead of having that 2nd glass of wine!” “Breathe and do it anyway!”

Card #8: Move the dream along.
Write down all the ideas you have for solving your dream roadblocks (like “I don’t have enough money,” “I need more help!” “I don’t know where to start!”) or the great ideas others have shared with you or you have found while researching your dream. Vow to try one at least once a month and see how it moves your dream along.

Card #9: Your to do list.
List all the things you think you need to do to make your dream come true. If your dream is to go back to school, then your list might include things like: apply to college, set up a budget, apply for financial aide, define the list of courses, research the books needed, create a study space, and check out some schools, etc. The point is to get these goals out of your head and down on paper so that you can begin to separate your emotions and resistance from simple tasks.

There you have it! It’s your own little mini-guide to take with your wherever you go, so the next time you are standing in that long line, or feeling bored at home, you can pick up your guide and check in with your dream. Be as creative with your mini guide as you can so that you  will use it on a regular basis!

Make 2014 the year you finally accomplish the launch of your big dream!


  • This challenge is a great test for resistance. If you find yourself thinking, “This won’t work for me (even thought you’ve never tried it)” or “I don’t feel like it,” or “It looks like too much work!” then you know that resistance is ruling your dream thoughts. Where does this resistance come from? What are you afraid of? How does resisting serve you? What are you gaining by resisting change?

  • I pulled my old dream deck out, blew off the dust, and had a good laugh at how much it needs a refresher! I spun my to-do list into a flurry of post-it notes that are placed on a calendar in the middle of my living room. Right next to the TV. Eye level.

    So far the to-do list/calendar/deadline process is working this year. Give me a drop-dead date and I’ll get it done :) Thanks for the reminder Cath!