4 minutes to read

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Awaken your desire. Setting aside goals that require a change of physiology or suspension of the laws of economics (like my becoming the next Dean Martin) you may feel fear rather than ambition. Therein lies the challenge. How do you open your mind to truly aspirational thinking?

A Successful Life is Like a Jigsaw Puzzle

Build a Jigsaw Puzzle

Jigsaw puzzles are one of my favorite games. But when I open the box and dump it out I get a sinking feeling in my stomach. The thousands of pieces look alike. Signage, sections with a prominent pattern, these are easily put together. I save the sky for last. There’s little color variation so to finish the puzzle I group the pieces by shape and start trying them one by one.

The repetitive process is boring. But reward is assured if I stick with it long enough. Each piece fit into the puzzle brings me closer to my goal.

Now there are times when two pieces are so similar I don’t discover my mistake until another part of the puzzle won’t fit together. Then I have to find the error and start rebuilding from there. Still, success is guaranteed. Eventually, all the pieces of the puzzle with come together and the picture will be complete.

Build a Puzzle Without Looking at the Picture on the Box

It’s easier to build the puzzle when you keep the picture on the box in front of you. You can more quickly complete the frame. Then you can gather groups of pieces, like those for green bushes, where they fit in the overall picture.

If you hide the picture, you can still build the frame pretty quickly. Once that’s done you’ll recognize certain pieces belong together. It will take longer to figure out what the overall picture is, but success delayed is not success denied. Despite the extra time, you will complete the puzzle.

Your Life is a Jigsaw Puzzle

Some people are so afraid of the chaos of thousands of pieces they never open up their boxes and venture out. Others empty out the box but are so scared they’ll build their frames wrong they have no context for living their lives. Then they cannot figure why success eludes them. But since they won’t commit to a framework and start building their striving is purposeless.

Then there are people who set their frames, create vivid mental pictures of their lives, and start building. They know some parts will be easy to build. Others will be a painstaking process of trial and error. In certain cases, they may have to dismantle part of what they built and start over. But they know if they keep working they will fill in their frames, or at least most of them.

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If you’re not used to building puzzles, start out with one that has a few dozen pieces. Pretty quickly you’ll get bored and move on to one that’s more complex. Now do the same with your life.

Frame, Envision, and Build Your Future

Set a frame for just one aspect of your life. Get a clear picture in your mind of what it will look like when it’s complete. Now start building it one piece at a time. Do the easy parts first. Hold fast to a vivid, mental image while doing the boring, repetitive work. Like a jigsaw puzzle, complete your picture one piece at a time. As more of your frame is filled in, the work will go faster. One day you’ll wake up and it will be DONE!

REPEAT the process.

After a while, you’ll build a frame that encompasses all of your life. Then you’ll add a section that’s like building blue sky without any frame. It will be scary because when you take away part of the frame you open yourself to unlimited possibilities. And you seemingly remove assured success. But keeping trying those pieces. Keep building your puzzle of life. Know that failure comes only when you decide you’re not going to try one more piece.

Even if the dog runs under the table and knocks it over, having previously set the frame, you can rebuild. You may have to go back to fitting together pieces you thought you’d long since mastered. But never mind: keep building.

What part of your life is framed and most vividly envisioned? 

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© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved

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