You may remember a television show that was popular in late 70s and early 80s—Fantasy Island. It starred the handsome Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban) as the island’s host, and his sidekick, Tattoo (Hervé Villechaize). It ran for seven successful seasons on ABC, ending in 1984.
In case you missed it, characters would pay to come to the island and live out one fantasy, which Mr. Roarke, with a little magic, would make come true. One customer might experience life as a popular rock star, another would be a pilot in World War II, and another would fall in love with a mermaid. Inevitably, the fantasies wouldn’t go exactly as the customers thought they would, but everything always turned out for the best.
The idea of being able to live out our fantasies is something most of us think would be neat, but figure will never happen in reality. Besides, our lives can get so full of duties, schedules, responsibilities, and “have tos” that we forget how to tune into our own wishes. After awhile, when asked what we would choose as our one fantasy, we don’t even know how to answer, because we no longer know what it is that we want.
What do I want?
This can be a very difficult question, particularly if we’ve grown so used to doing what we think we “should” do, or what others expect us to do, that we’ve forgotten how to listen to that little voice inside us—the one that knows exactly what we want, if we’d only let him/her talk.
If you’ve come to a place in your life where you’re feeling unsatisfied, and you don’t know how to figure out your next step, going to your own “fantasy island” can be a good way to coax your inner voice out of hiding. Give the following steps a try, and see what you discover about yourself.
1. Dress up for the occasion. You can trick your mind into a state of creativity by changing what you’re wearing, so don your favorite flower shirt, drop a lei around your neck (make a paper one if you don’t have one), and make yourself a cocktail or icy glass of pineapple juice.
2. Put on some music. You want to get into an “escape” frame of mind, so put on some music that will help you get away from your usual environment—if you have a soundtrack of the ocean, even better.
3. Write. Using a festive pen and paper or notebook, start writing. Don’t censor yourself. Just write, using short sentences. Use a format that assumes you already have the fantasy you’re thinking of. For example, “I have a million dollars,” or “I am a super model,” or “I regularly travel to foreign countries,” or “I have a house in the country.” Keep going until you run out of ideas.
4. Narrow it down. After you’ve gotten your initial thoughts out of your system, try digging a little deeper. Apply the exercise to your situation. For example, if you’re not sure of the next step in your career, limit your fantasies to the career realm. (“I am a history professor.” “I’m a nurse.”) If you’re trying to figure out what you want to do with your retirement, narrow it down to that realm. (“I play golf and travel around the nation.” “I have taken a second job at the cancer center.” “I am active in my grandchildren’s lives.”)
5. Act out your fantasy. By now you should have 3-5 options in your chosen arena. Try acting each one out. Right there, in your living room, pretend you are the person you fantasize about being. If you’re a singer, grab something to use as a microphone and sing. Take note of how you feel. If you’re a nurse, pretend to give someone a shot, write out a medical report, or transfer a patient from one bed to the other. Which option feels best? Choose the one where you feel the most natural, confident, and excited. In other words, you may think it would be neat to be a singer, but not feel confident that your voice is good enough. Yet when you acted out your nurse role, you felt at ease, with a deep sense of fulfillment.
Don’t worry. If it doesn’t work the first time, keep trying. Sometimes your inner voice needs a few promptings before it will feel safe enough to come out. All it needs is to know you’re finally ready to listen—and take your life fantasies a little more seriously.