The Doctor Is In: Dr. Jan Hoistad

28 10 2008

Dr. Jan Hoistad is the author of Big Picture Partnering: 16 Weeks to a Rock-Solid Relationship and Living Your Dreams Together: Conversation Cards for Couples. She helps couples work together to create the life of their dreams. Find out more about Dr. Jan at

Discover What You Want
By Dr. Jan Hoistad

1. Begin with a quiet space
Tuning into our self – our dreams, desires, even small urges – requires self-reflection. It takes a bit of quiet or solitude. A small amount of time, consistently given to yourself on a regular basis. Some people make quiet time every morning for 15 minutes over coffee or tea before turning on the radio or reading the news. Others do their best thinking or contemplating while running or walking the dog around the lake.

I’ve encouraged quite a number of male clients to practice taking 5-10 minutes of time during their day to self-reflect. Some are choosing to do this on a break or at lunchtime – closing the office door and just sitting quietly thinking about how their day has gone so far, how they’ve been interacting with others, what they feel good about or what they’d like to change. It gives them a time to regroup before moving back into the workday hubbub.

Another man uses 10-15 minutes before leaving the office to sit quietly and jot notes about his day and notes about how he’d like to re-enter family life. This helps him reflect on what he’s done well or feels proud of that day, and it also allows him to leave work at work and transition to home life more smoothly.

2. Have paper and pen handy
Journal writing is a way to “see” what you are thinking. In her book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron recommends starting each day with three “morning pages.” No more; no less. These are just three pages to write whatever comes to mind. No editing. No particular goal. No outcome. No expectations. No one is going to read them. She even recommends that you don’t reread them. Instead, stick them in an envelope or folder and tuck them in a drawer not to be opened for at least six months.

Morning pages, with a hot cup of coffee or tea and a few minutes of silence, are a place to unload, to dump your first thoughts, feelings, and impressions, before the day’s demands have called. Morning pages are a place to clear the slate and then capture your dreams, dreams from which you have literally emerged and dreams that can turn into this year’s goals.

As you write over the course of days, you may be surprised how the three morning pages turn into a pleasure: touching base with your soul as a way to start your day; dumping what’s in your way and making space for what you truly desire.  

3. Ask a simple question
Here’s another suggestion for your journal or notebook. Ask yourself each day, “What makes me happy? What do I truly love? What are the moments in this day that have felt satisfying, fulfilling, or joyful?” Then, be curious to note what really feels good. Write your response every day and see how it evolves. See what sticks and go for it.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, also says to ask yourself every morning: “What do I really, really, reallywant?” “Really” must be said three times! Then write in your journal and be sure to answer honestly. In addition she also recommends keeping a “happiness journal” in which you jot down exactly what actually made you happy that day. What you notice will inform your choices.

4. Let intention be a beacon to guide you
You’ve heard the word “Intention.” An intention is like a navigation system for all your actions, interactions, choices. An intention serves two purposes: First, it is like a lighthouse, a guidepost, a watchtower, a beacon. It shines light on your life’s path, marking your direction, aligning your values, highlighting skillful choices, as well as potential danger signals. Second, it serves to beckon, entice, and coax you toward the things you most desire when the going gets tough or you falter.

That said, how do you reveal your beacon or create your intention for 2008?

It should be simple and something you want to guide all your interactions. For example, maybe you

  • Are working on moving more gently through your days, going more slowly, stopping to smell the roses, being sweeter to yourself and others.
  • Want to be more kind or attentive. I know people in physical pain who are practicing such kindness. Their intention is to learn to to listen to their body signals and to love them rather than being frustrated or mad at themselves.
  • Are practicing being more organized at home and at work.
  • Want to laugh more, and laugh more together.

An intention is like a beacon to guide your life this year. It’s an infusion of light that can permeate your path. What intention, what light, do you wish to highlight your path and guide your steps this year?




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