When we are kids, we dream like rivers flow. It’s what we did for hours. We don’t ask ourselves if we can. We just dream. That’s what makes it a dream. Nothing is held back, and there are no limitations or boundaries. We dream big! We don’t even know how to dream small. Why would we?
Then some well-meaning adults that we trust come along and teach us about reality. They tell us about what may be possible. Maybe you heard, “That’s not for us.” Maybe, like me, you heard that success or wealth is for other people.
“They trained the dream right out of us.”
We learn limitations, and like the fleas in the covered jar, we believe them. God bless those kids who didn’t listen or had parents who did not believe in limitations. Look, I get it. They were trying to stop us from making fools of ourselves. They wanted us to save face. I believe what they should have done was told us the truth. They should have told us, “Go for it!” They should have said, “You’ll have to work harder than most people and will fall on your face more than most people, but I love you no matter what. I’ll help you up when you fall on your face.” They teach us that when we learn to ride a bike, but not often enough in the big picture.
This book is about training the dream back into you and giving you a plan to be the person you need to become to own your dream. You are not reading this article to read an article. You are diving in to get the breakthroughs you are seeking.
Quick exercise. If you could go back and talk to the 8-year-old you, what would you tell you? Take this seriously. Do you remember what you dreamed of back then, what you worried about, or what you thought? In your mind, have a conversation or write a letter to the 8-year-old you. Go ahead. Put this down for a second. You may tear up. It is OK if you do. Sometimes crying releases pains of your past so that you can have bigger wings.
I did this myself, and it was fascinating. I listened to my own insecurities. How my mom dressed me in a bright red corduroy Sherlock Homes type coat and hat and how the other kids used to make fun of me and call me, “Darren. Darren the Red Baron.” I remembered working so hard with my dad making a pinewood derby racer in scouts and how we came in last. It hurt losing. I felt like I disappointed my dad. He loved me anyway, yet I still felt like I let him down.
In my conversation with the young me, I would tell him, “You are not going to be great at competitions for a long time, but don’t give up because someday you will be a champion. I know you dream of being in movies, but you are going to become something even better.” I’d tell young me that it is because of failures and how you react to them that matters. I’d make sure he understood that failures are a crucial part of success. I’d tell him that someday he would fail at a business, and because of that failure, he would inspire people around the world. I would say, “What do you think of that?” I can hear young me say, “You’re really weird.”
But seriously, what would you say to the 8-year-old you? What do you think the young you would say back to you? Try it! Listen! Feel!
That can be helpful and enlightening, and here is when it gets even better.
OK, now another quick, enlightening exercise. Now, what do you think the 88-year-old you would say to you, right now?
I thought that one through too. I could hear the wise-ass, 88-year-old me say, “Great advice you had for the kid! Ha-ha! Very encouraging! Maybe you should take that advice now yourself!” That cracks me up. The truth often does.
I can hear him say to me, “The decisions you make now affect me, you know. The better decisions you make now will help me. But, more importantly, don’t have any regrets. I don’t want to sit on my rocking chair wishing I tried something. No regrets! I can be much happier living without regrets. Just like you’d tell the kid, failures are part of getting the breakthroughs you need.”
Wow! What a wake-up call that could be. You and I only have today. Going backward can help us understand. Thinking forward can give us a sense of perspective and urgency. This is your dream and your life.
What would your 88-year-old self tell you today?
Remember this, your kids and grandkids are watching you. They are better at seeing what you do than hearing what you say. Think about that for a moment. If you won’t do things for yourself, do it for them. Your actions are teaching them good or bad. The only question is, what are you teaching them?
This article is designed to train you to dream again. Dream big, then take a step every day. You are creating him or her by what you decide and act on today. Then listen to the 88-year-old you.
- What would you tell the 8-year-old you?
- What did you worry about back then?
- What do you worry about now?
- What would the 88-year-old you tell you now?
- Today is all we have.
Thanks for sharing this. I’ve seen – and facilitated – variations of those exercises. I learned a long time ago to go beyond the surface of those dreams and to look at the essence of the experiences in life I was and am looking for. For example, as a kid, I had my heart set on becoming a professional baseball player and helping my team win the World Series. I dreamed of winning the baseball Triple Crown. I was very good at playing baseball, but not good enough to reach the Major League or even the Minor League level. When I realized that dream as I saw it wasn’t going to happen, I felt like a total failure. However, at age 19, I had the chance to play fast pitch softball. The first manager I played for made me sit on the bench for pretty much the entire season. This was the best team in the league and the manager believed that rookies should sit and watch for their first year. I got so angry, the next year, I started my own team. At first, it was rough, but I learned how to recruit players, put together a team that could work together and how to be an effective manager. And in my first game against the first team I played with, I hit three homers against their best pitcher. I still hold the record in that league for most homers in a game. The team I managed eventually got very good. A few years later, we even reached the National Championships. I realized along the way that my dream wasn’t really about playing professional baseball – it was to be a part of a winning team and to feel like I can make meaningful contributions. I did that playing softball – and I’ve done it in other areas of my life. So it may seem like my dream didn’t come true, but in its deeper, truer meaning, it really did, just not the way I thought it would.
As for winning the triple crown, I did do that, too – many times in Toastmasters. And going for the Triple Crown helped my clubs earn Distinguished Club awards.
For me, the main question I have and keep asking myself along the way is – what’s the experience I’m looking for in life? And the biggest key for me has been to keep my eyes open because it’s hard to see the many options that the world has to offer with eyes closed.
I wish you all the best with your book
“Don’t spend too much time thinking about the past or the future.
Today is what’s important.”
Credit for previous quote: “Don’t spend too much time thinking about the past or the future. Today is what’s important.”
This was written by Sarah-Elizabeth Ratliff for an article entitled: Find Your Happy Place (and Get There Already!)
Fess up, LaCroix. You own the STU Kleenex concession, don’t you?! Like you said, “Ouch!” Thank you for making me cry until I could answer that question with clarity. Thank you for the fresh perspective. This one exercise is worth the price of admission.
Great reflective exercise. I’d definitely keep it in the book. Keep writing! Can’t wait to read the completed version and see the movie!
As a famous speaker said, “Ouch”
I remember the things I did at 8. And wonder how I lost it.