Life Is A Test?

I rarely ever remember a dream. Even when I can remember what I was dreaming about when I have to get up for a drink or bathroom break in the middle of the night, I have forgotten all about it by morning.

However, last night I had a dream that made me analyze my life and my thought processes on a day to day basis.

I was dreaming about taking a test. I am not sure the subject of the test. I do remember feeling under pressure and I was struggling a bit with the content of the test.

Now, I have taken my share of tests in the past and can recall having these types of dreams while in college; but, why now?

I jotted down a few notes before going back to bed and did my best to decipher this brain spark this morning.

I am into several projects right now in which I am under the microscope, so to speak. But, am I? Is this all in my head? Do I bring all this pressure on myself?


I try to be the best I can be; mentally, physically, and financially. I try to learn as much as possible to improve my abilities in these areas. This is great as long as I don’t spend so much time trying to improve me that it harms my life in these same areas; i.e. stress, family, friends, health, etc.

We all see the “burn-out” in the self-improvement entrepreneur; the sacrifices made in the “important things” in life such as relationships and peace of mind.

Peace of mind should be a top priority for mental, physical, and financial success. Living life as some sort of constant test will hamper this process.

Realizing that progress is a “you vs. you” phenomenon and that you don’t have to please someone else on a day to day basis is a great start.

Bryan Tracy, in his audio series from Nightingale Conant entitled “Action Secrets for Personal Achievement,” talks about the need for certain people to get the approval of others. He calls this a symptom of Type “A” behavior.

Here are some of the other type “A” symptoms:

Having a sense of urgency to do more and more in less and less time.

Volunteering for more and more work at the office.

Feeling under pressure to get activities accomplished.

Being obsessed with your performance and having high standards for such performance.

The type “A” personality can’t relax and enjoy an accomplishment, they feel like they have never done enough.

Compare self with others.

More concerned with things than with people.

Brings home work.

Talks about the boss, what the boss said, what the boss did… wants to please the boss at all times.

Has a sense of hostility towards those he or she feels to be competing against.

Type “A’s” cannot admit that they are not in control.

If you fall into any of the above categories, making a decision to change may be a great first step. This decision involves trying to relax and still be productive and effective without the added stress we type “A’s” like to impart.

There are two things that have worked in the past for me (and my clients) that I am going to focus on after this “wake–up call.”

One is a daily exercise plan. Even when I am on the road, I usually do some exercise daily, but, there are times I get in a rut and don’t focus on my planning and execution of a said workout. A daily routine helps relieve stress and will bring out creativity and problem solving abilities like no other activity!

It is a “reality check” for me as well. Things are brought into a better perspective after a good workout, no matter how long the workout is.

This is Stephen Covey’s take on exercise (from his book The 8th Habit): “I am convinced that exercise increases our own sense of self-control and self-mastery, which enhances the totality of our lives and truly enlarges the space between stimulus and response.”

The second concept is practicing daily solitude. This could be a twenty minute walk, a power relaxation/almost nap, hanging out on a park bench, etc. This is a time to let your mind “go” and let your subconscious work on goals, problems, and/or ideas that are filling your head – a “mind-cleansing” if you will.

I try to do two, one-hour solitude sessions per week to let my subconscious mind take over and do its thing for me. This is a time when I just sit back and take in the world, usually outside in a fairly secluded place without interruptions. I sometimes think about a couple of goals or issues in my life ahead of time, then sit back and let my brain work on things.

I tend to find some answers to problems as well as some pretty great ideas to take back to work with me. They not only help me achieve goals, but relieve stress at the same time. These two activities alone have probably added years to my life and helped me through some potentially stressful times.

Thus, the reason for my dream. I have been in situations recently in which I feel the need to “prove” myself. I am living my life as a series of tests… daily. I have felt out of sorts, not myself, lacking confidence.

All brought on by myself.

Life is not a test. To me, it is a series of learning experiences.

My goal is to strengthen the area between stimulus and response (see quote above and The 8th Habit by Stephen Covey) on a daily basis; mentally, physically, and financially. As that space continues to grow with experience and knowledge, my life and dreams will put a smile on my face.

Thanks for letting me think out loud today.

Sweet dreams.