Is there any dream that you secret away in your heart, afraid to say it out loud, worried that if you do it will be like a birthday wish that goes out with the candles? Are you so worried about failure and protecting your heart that you never start working on your dreams? Do you build walls around your dreams, and keep them hidden deep inside, telling yourself that you are not a great singer, writer or artist.
Have you noticed that your children have talents and love to do certain things? Have you wanted to encourage them to achieve their goals without becoming a stage parent? Here is a little secret. When we work to achieve our dreams our children are watching.
Sometimes life has been difficult, or our failures have been painful. We have taken our failures and hurts and stacked them around our tender hearts like stones, building a wall to protect our hearts and souls, from any more hurt.
The problem with building walls around our dreams, our hearts and souls, is that the very walls that are meant to protect us become our prison. The very place we are supposed to secret ourselves away safe, becomes lonely and dark, as stone by stone we close out the light of hope. Our fear can be infectious. Our children are watching.
Take down the walls, stone by stone and learn to fly. The best thing about flying is realizing your children are watching, and because you fly, it will never occur to them that they can’t.
So how do we begin to take down our walls and dream? Here are the steps I follow. You can try them alone first, or do this as a family.
1. Look within and see who you really are
Take a journal or notepad. Write about who you really are. Ask yourself if your health was perfect, you had all the money in the world, you could live anywhere you wanted to or have any job or education you wanted to, what would your life look like?
2. Learn about what makes you happy
This makes a fun family night. Find a stack of old magazines and photos. Thumb through magazines and cut out pictures of things that strike your fancy or make you happy. Don’t limit yourself or ask why, just start collecting. Set those aside. Go through the photos. Which pictures make you smile and bring you joy? Set those aside.
Now, spend a few days collecting scraps of fabric or color, flowers and samples of anything else that makes you happy. Take your collection and glue it on a piece of poster board or anything else large enough to hold it. Stand back and look. Do you see a pattern? Is the board covered with pictures of singers, artists or athletes? Do you see things that relate to your dreams?
3. Set goals
Knowing the sky is the limit, set goals for yourself or help your children. Choose a primary goal. For example: “I will publish a book.” Then, map out the steps to get to the goal. Break your goal down into smaller bites. Ask yourself the following questions:
What will I do daily to reach my goal?
What will I do monthly to reach my goal?
What will I do yearly to reach my goal?
For example, if your goal is to publish a book, maybe your daily goal is to keep a journal, your weekly goal is to write five pages of your book or your first month’s goal might be to have a story outline completed or attend a writers group. Your annual goal will be something that all the little steps lead up to. For example, at the end of the first year you will submit your manuscript to five publishers.
By breaking your larger dreams or goals into smaller pieces we make them possible, one step at a time.
4. Set up rewards
Plan to reward yourself or your children for reaching goals. Celebrate each small success.
5. Don’t give up
Failure makes success so much sweeter. Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb only went to three months of school. His mind wandered and his teacher, Reverend Engle was overheard calling him addled. He was fired from jobs for experimenting at work. He was on the night shift, working for Western Union, when he spilled sulfuric acid on the floor of his boss’ office and was fired. All prior to his great successes. Thomas Edison said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
Try one more time. If the goal is to run a marathon and right now it hurts to take 10 steps, encourage the runner to take nine, then try 10 again tomorrow.
6. Get comfortable being uncomfortable
Remember that sometimes what we are really afraid of is success. Anything new is out of our, or our children’s, comfort zone. As human beings we are great at self-sabotage or doing things that undermine our success and take us back to our comfort zone. Practice taking risks, showing your children how to gracefully handle their fears by handling yours. If you want to sing, when someone asks you to sing in church, say yes. Take down the wall, and step out onto the stage. Begin taking risks and revealing dreams.
Share the dream with two friends. Tell them some of the steps you are going to take to get there.
Find people who are already living your dream and ask for help. Invite them to share their experiences with your family.
Plan activities that encourage family members’ dreams. For example take your writer to a writers group at the library.
I hope these steps help you. These are the steps I took to reach my dream. I dreamed of writing for you.
Dreams are not like birthday wishes that disappear when spoken, they are truths waiting to be told. Today, peek over the wall you have built around your heart, and then begin to take it down. The walls we build to protect ourselves become our prisons. Release your dreams, free your heart and your family will release theirs. It’s time to fly.