Ever dig and find a natural spring? You have to break through hard ground, move away all the rocks and -- after great work -- the thirsty ground becomes damp. Dig deeper and you uncover a beautiful underground stream that washes away everything in its path.

This is the way we prepare for Rosh Hashana. The earth and rocks are the obstacles -- bad habits, unrealistic planning, incorrect beliefs, negative character traits -- that keep us from feeling truly alive. This is the time of year to tap into our deepest yearning to live, in order to stand before the Creator on Rosh Hashana and ask for another year of life.

Here are 6 Steps to help us break through to that overflowing spring -- and fulfill our dreams this year.

Step #1 – What Are Your Inner Strengths?

Below, write 6 experiences in your life where you felt great about yourself. Next to each experience, write the emotion you felt. Next to the emotion, list two strengths you used to accomplish that experience.

Here are two samples:

Experience

Feeling

Strengths Used

Collected 25,000 signatures on a petition

exhilaration

organization, creativity

Consoled my friend who was mourning

hope

sensitivity, compassion

Now fill in the chart yourself:

 

Experience

Feeling

Strengths Used

1

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

4

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

Look over your feelings. Do you see a common theme?

Review the strengths you listed above. Pause to appreciate those strengths with which you were blessed. If other situations where you used these strengths come to mind, write those down as well.

Step #2 - Identify Your Dreams

Our lives are cluttered with dreams that have died, left abandoned as life swept us on. All our dreams -- even the silly ones -- contain a point of our deepest yearning to unabashedly invest our heart and soul into life.

Below, list 10 dreams or life ideals that you believe in.

We are complex people, so remember to check all the different parts of yourself for their dreams as well -- i.e. "you" as a friend, a parent, a Jew, a member of society, a pleasure seeker, a giver, etc.)

 

Dream / Life Ideal

SAMPLE

To have a really great marriage.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

6

 

7

 

8

 

9

 

10

 

Now look at this list and ask: Why have so many of my dreams gone unfulfilled?

Step #3 – Misconceptions

You may believe in God, but are you aware that God believes in you?

Appreciate that God created you with a unique set of talents (see your own list above) and placed before you endless opportunities to use and refine them. He invested those strengths inside of you, and believes in your ability to actualize your deepest dreams of what life could be.

Below are some challenges and misconceptions that hold us back. As you read each one, take a look inside yourself to see how they may apply to you.

Mistake #1: We think we are supposed to be perfect; therefore we mistakenly hide our flaws.

Truth #1: God created us with flaws. God also gave us the strengths to overcome those challenges. This is a vital part of our task to perfect our world. As long as we hide from our flaws, we are in denial. Only by accepting that they are part of us and loving ourselves despite them, can we begin to change and grow. By giving ourselves some patience and understanding, we are emulating the One above, allowing Him to have mercy on us to allow us to grow. Our strengths also give us encouragement in the face of the flaws we cannot change. They allow us to carry them gracefully, and enable others to see us in a more positive light.

Mistake #2: We try to be someone else. We identify with people we admire and actually think we can become them. This is destructive because in the process, we begin to reject parts of ourselves. It causes us to abandon issues that are vital to our unique purpose in the world. If they don't matter to you, then to whom should they matter? If you don't make your dreams come true, who will?

Truth #2: Your job in the world can only be achieved if you are passionate about "you." First you have to get to know and like yourself, and that takes patience. You can learn and be inspired by others -- but your question should not be, "How can I be like him?" Rather, you should ask, "How can I use my own strengths, as passionately as that person uses his?" Little by little you will see that by being "you," you're able to accomplish things you never dreamed the limits of your nature would allow.

Mistake #3: I will change automatically.

Truth #3: Automatically, you will remain stuck in the same rut. None of your life ideals will ever become realized. Life will push you along, burying your dreams and hopes of who you could have been; and the only person to blame is the person who never made the decision to consciously change. "I'll change it tomorrow" means "I will never change." A decision to work on yourself has to begin now.

Any businessperson plans, researches, and schedules in order to achieve profitable goals. As long as we regard our own goals as a waste of time, we cannot change. We have given up on ourselves. The importance of anything in your life is reflected by two questions:

  1. Did I set aside time to do it / learn about it / think about it?
  2. Am I willing to set aside time for this on a regular basis?

Mistake #4: I know I could fail, so why try?

Truth #4: Failure is the building block of success. Even with a promise of success from God, Moses failed miserably when he first tried to take the Jews from Egypt. To get out of the place you are stuck, you will unquestionably fail. More than once. Don't worry. It's often just God's way of testing how much you believe in your own dreams, helping you to clarify, re-evaluate and perfect them. We are judged only on our effort and never on our success. Jewish success is to be able to know for yourself: "I am doing everything in my power to put in my most sincere effort to succeed."

The next time you are frustrated, say:

  • "I welcome the frustration, because it is God's sign of confidence that I can grow."
  • "Please, God, help me overcome this."

Step #4 - Personal Blocks

Now let's talk about all those nasty rocks that get in our way of digging down to the flowing spring. On the road to any meaningful goal, we will inevitably encounter frustrations and challenges. Very often, the frustration appears in the place where we most desire to grow. For example, someone who desperately wants to fall in love may be blocking their own chances to meet their soul mate. By recognizing the challenge, we can confront it head-on, and remove the obstacle. Let it flow!

•  List below four frustrating things in your life right now.

•  Note in what way God may be sending this to help you.

 

Frustration/Challenge

God may be sending this to help me…

SAMPLE

I was fired from my job.

Now I have time to travel. This may help me overcome my fear of change, and ultimately lead me to a much better job.

1

 

 

2

 

 

3

 

 

4

 

 

Step #5 - Dreams Do Come True

Go back to your "dream list" that you created in Step-2.

•  Choose your most three important dreams, and list them in order of importance to you.

•  Under each dream, write three steps that you will need to accomplish each dream, in the order that you would need to do them.

•  Next to each step, write how many months/years it will take, and how much time each week it will take.

•  After each, write a summary statement.

 

My Dream

Three Steps to Accomplish

How much time it will take:

Summary Statement

SAMPLE

Find my
soul mate

1) Set aside time to figure out who I am, so I know what type of spouse I want.
2) Review mistakes I have made in the past, and learn wisdom about how to be the best spouse.
3) Network with friends and family, to locate my soul mate.

1) 20 min/day for
3 months
2) 30 min/day for
3 months
3) 20 min/day for
3 months

If I do this, within a year I will have done all I can to help God bring me my soul mate.

Dream #1

 

 

 

 

Dream #2

 

 

 

 

 

Dream #3

 

 

 

 

Choose a friend or mentor who knows you well and has good judgment. Read to them your steps and ask if they are realistic. If not, adjust accordingly.

Step #6 – The Rosh Hashana Letter

Rosh Hashana is when we stand before God and present our plan for the year. The day before Rosh Hashana, write a letter to God that includes:

•  The dreams of who you want to be.

•  Thank Him for the gifts He has given you, and tell Him how you plan to use to them effectively to pursue your dreams.

•  Ask Him for help in using your strengths and overcoming your frustrations.

•  End with a statement of your trust in Him -- that He desires your success, that He has been helping you, and that He will continue to do so.

If you go through these 6 Steps, you can feel confident that you have made an honest effort, and with great joy you can stand before God on Rosh Hashana to ask for another year of life.