By Jay Timms :I have noticed something lately that has become of interest to me as a dreamer (people who know me know exactly what I mean) and as a therapist. Let me begin by telling you a story about my 8-year-old daughter. My daughter and I have a nightly ritual where after she brushes her teeth, goes to the washroom and says her prayers, she will ask me to rub her back and sing her a song. More often than not it is one of two songs that we choose from. After I sing to her, sometimes we will talk. One night, not too long ago, the topic came to what she felt like she wanted to do when she grew up. She said that she wanted to be a Veterinarian, a doctor, and a mommy. I asked if she meant that she wanted to be doctor to animals, and she said, “Yes, but to babies too.” I said, “Wow! That is a lot of things that you are wanting to do. How are you going to do it all?” “I am going to do it because I am smart and beautiful”. I really don’t have any idea which side of the family she gets that from.
Now as an 8-year-old, I can justify her comment by saying that she really doesn’t understand that she can’t do all of that. In fact, I can assume that her goals are quite lofty and quite unrealistic. However, one thing that young children have is the innate ability to understand that when you aim big, you get big. Take for instance another interesting quirk about my daughter. My daughter has the ability to take something that is absolutely in her favor to accept, and then she will negotiate to get just a little bit more. It is amazing how often we as her parents will say something like “be happy with what you are getting” and yet she doesn’t get it. She isn’t happy with it. She knows that she can probably get just a bit more just because she expects it. We as parents have been accused of being pushovers and spoiling her because we let her “argue” with us, but she really is just that good. Personally, I see lawyer in her future.
Compare that with many people who come into my office to see me. The following are amalgamations of many of my clients that I have seen, combined into individuals to highlight my point. Mary is 47 years of age. She has been married for 22 years and has 3 kids aged 21, 19, and 18. The two older ones have been out of the house for a couple of years and the 18 year old has just moved to the other side of the country to attend his first year of University. Mary is coming to me to understand why she is so depressed. Most people would say that she has “empty nest syndrome”, and although I agree with this, I believe there is something much deeper than this.
Jeff is 36, has been in a relationship with a woman for the past 8 years and they have 2 kids, 6 and 2. Jeff has a job doing long-haul trucking. Jeff works 12-hour days and drives between California and Seattle 3 times a week. He works 8 days and then is home for 4, then back out for 8. He and his partner are having some relationship challenges and Jeff has gained over 30 pounds in the last 3 years. Jeff sits in front of me exhausted, overweight, cranky, and uses words like “trapped”, and “frustrated” to describe what he sees in his life. People may say that it is his job that is creating the issues for him, and although I agree, there is something much deeper than that.
What is that piece that I feel is deeper than the excuses being used above? I believe that it is because we as adults forget to dream. We forget that when we were little kids, we knew that we would accomplish huge things. Research constantly shows that individuals who have the ability to dream consistently accomplish more.
The problem with our society is that we have loving people around us all the time who are “just trying to help us be a bit more realistic”. I call “bull” on that. These people may be trying to help us be more realistic, but we buy into that crap that “reality” means that we are no longer allowed to dream big. Trust me, I have MASSIVE dreams and I have people all around me who shake their heads at me and “tisk tisk” that I need to be “more realistic”. Says who? Do you think that if Jesus Christ listened to people who said, “be a bit more realistic” we would have such a huge population of the world who call themselves “Christian”? Do you think that if Dr. Martin Luther King had been “more realistic”, African Americans would have the rights they do today? Do you think that is Bill Gates or Steve Jobs had listened to people who said, “be realistic” that we would have the technology and information that we have today? Nope.
“But Jay, you don’t understand…these people are different. They are exceptional people who have been born with things that I haven’t.” Okay, fine. Go crawl into that hole of excuses and sit there and pout. But here is the truth. I have met some of those “different people” and have gotten to know them a little bit. Let me tell you something about them. They are no different from you and I. It is like that stupid “People Magazine” or “Us” where they have features on how famous people are “Just like us!” “They go to the park with the kids ‘just like us’. They buy ice cream from the grocery store ‘just like us’!” Give me a break! The only difference between them and you is that “they” have remembered to dream.
I want you to do something right now. I don’t care who you are or what you think you have accomplished in your life. Get out a piece of paper and a pen and write down the things that you dreamed of becoming when you were a kid. Right now. Write down everything that you can remember. Now, take a look at that paper and look around you. How close have you gotten to those dreams? If you haven’t hit them then you have stopped dreaming. Get back to it and dream. You will be happier, healthier, and chances are, you will be richer that you are right now.
How likely is it that you will achieve your dreams in life? Well, I can promise you that of the people who read this, only about 10% of you will have actually done what I just asked you to do. Only 10% of you will have written down what you dreamed of as a kid. Take a look at the table in front of you. Do you see the list? Guess who is going to be successful at achieving their dreams.
Remember, “Realists” are just “Pessimists” trying to be “Optimistic”.
Jay Timms BMT MA CCC
Author, Trainer, Researcher
Empower Training Development & Research