I have my client’s permission to tell you about a great idea he had. We had been talking about the perils of being self-employed… keeping a good schedule, being productive, making plans and following through, all with self-discipline as the main driver. He said, “I need an imaginary boss.” Next time he was at the huge, sell everything store he picked up an inexpensive action hero, his favorite League of Justice hero, put it in his home office, and told himself that this “boss” was there to advise him, keep him on task, and train him in self-discipline. And, it has worked.
I realized, and shared a little with him about why it may be working. It builds habits with a humorous way, moving ideas from the impulse level up to more rational and productive executive function areas of the brain. After a minute or so of that, we were both tired of academics, and we returned to the thrill of the chase. That is, how can we get to where we want to be in our efforts, when we are the boss. At the end of the day, week, or year, we need to feel a sense of accomplishment.
In praise of imaginary friends, it helps him to be able to say, “What would _______ say at a time like this?” Let me admit that there have been plenty of times that I have said to myself, “What would Ole Roy do at a time like this?” (If you don’t know who that is, go to You Tube, and look up Roy Rogers.)
I will frequently say to couples in marriage counseling, “What would Harley and Davidson do at a time like this?” Most partnerships would go out of business if they did not communicate, and share influence/decisions any better than some couples do.
Most of us talk to ourselves, and we aren’t imaginary. We do it to get some reflection and some perspective about ourselves. Can we mentor ourselves, especially when other mentors are not available?
I recommend some other of these internal references. We need to think on those good and wise things said by others over the years.
Our Imaginary Sage can be a collection of those shared quotes and stories told us by people who have learned and loved the truth.
Our Imaginary Coach can be sum of good motivators and teachers we have had.
Our Imaginary Critic can remind us of the uncaring folks out there who want to make us feel as stymied in life as they do. The imaginary one in our mind can let us practice as we say to them, “I am content with my better way of making well rounded decisions about this.” One more thing, an important thing, in your mind, be sure your imaginary critic is tied to a tree, so that you can keep on walking down your chosen road.
Imagination doesn’t have to be about fiction.
Imagination is what developers and inventers use to come up with new tools, products, solutions, and even changes in life itself. It can be about the future, and how we can accomplish. One of my favorite books is one I have read several times, with a title I think of at least scores of times a year since I first read it in the 70’s. It is by Edward C. Briggs, Will It Matter What I Was?, and it challenges me. Imagine the future you want and head that direction, but you have to do it every day.
May I contribute to your collection of good advice?
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Paul in Philippians 4:8
Paul is telling the truth, recommending the truth of a real relationship with a real and living God. Living an effective Christian life needs healthy thinking… and before we ask, “What Would Jesus Do?”, we need to read, understand, and put into committed practice, “What Jesus Did….” Find your gifts and callings, and find good relationships with other encouragers in the faith.