Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 2/17/2008 [Archive]

The 3 X 5 Game

The 3 x 5 Game

By Martha Randolph Carr

Here's a 10 minute game you can do by yourself or with friends that can change your life and the way you see yourself in it. It's called the 3 x 5 Game and has proven so powerful it'll soon be available in book form with players' stories and even more steps that brought about great changes. I started this with a group of friends who complained once too often about some nagging to-do and the idea has spread like a wonderful magic with a surprise ending. It's designed to be easy and remove all guilt but still fit into a hairy schedule.

Take out a piece of paper and quickly write down the first three things that come to your mind that have been bugging you forever but somehow you never get the chance to do. You're the only one who's going to see this list, so no editing. For this to work, you have to write down what quickly comes into your mind, not what you had time to dream up, that you think might make you look better.

Some examples of what you can write are: get an article published, make up with an old friend or balance the check book. The only criteria here is that it has to be what keeps popping up in your mind as something you know you should be doing but for whatever reason, you've put it off. The items don't have to be gigantic to count, there's no right or wrong and it's not a contest. One friend, Bonnie, wrote down 'get mammogram'.

Her mother had passed away from breast cancer and her sister was a survivor of the illness. She had been putting it off for years, letting fear and guilt creep up on her. I wrote down 'start walking' as one of my three things.

Underneath each of the three goals put down the numbers 1 through 5 and write the first five steps that come to mind that you know you can do to move you closer to that goal. Not necessarily achieve the goal, which can seem daunting, only move closer. I wrote down: buy a pair of walking shoes as one step.

Each step is something we know we can do and the hidden bonus is, by doing them you'll learn two lessons you used to do naturally as a kid but may have forgotten.

The first lesson is to celebrate each step instead of waiting for an end goal. Life is a journey, not a contest or a destination, and it's easier to stay in the moment and feel good about where we are if we can feel good about each step along the way.

The second lesson is to start from where we are rather than waiting for more optimum conditions before we'll even set out. It's a common excuse, particularly if we're busy, that becomes a bad habit.

Here's the surprise ending everyone found when they let go of the top three internal nags in their life. Everyone changed their opinion of themselves for the better and caught themselves saying nice things about who they already are.

Instead of saying, "I ought to", they were saying, "I did". Instead of mentioning again how I wanted to start walking, I mentioned I got the shoes, then I shared I found a place to walk. Our conversations had changed from passive to active and gave each of us the chance to share something positive. The level of complaining in general went down and had the ripple effect of helping us to see other aspects of our lives in a more positive light as well. The next year, we all found ourselves putting down more positive, creative ideas.

We didn't know it, but the small list of things we put off had blocked the flow of new ideas for fun things we wanted to do, if only we changed our focus.

Look for Martha's latest book wherever books are sold. A Place to Call Home: The Amazing Success Story of Modern Orphanages (Prometheus). "...Carr's book should touch hearts and open discussions."- Publishers Weekly. For more info about Martha and her books go to

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