I remember it like it was yesterday. I was over at my friend Tim’s house. He was a couple years older than I was and we didn’t hang around each other very much. He had Legos and Battleship that we would play in the lower level of his mom’s split-level home. Thinking back, he is the one who taught me how to play Battleship, and he won almost every game.
We lived on a cul-de-sac. His house was the first one on right on the corner. My house was further in, the third on the left. There were only 8 houses in the cul-de-sac, so the “circle” was private enough to limit traffic but large enough for bike races, jumping ramps, and snowball fights in the winter. It was a safe neighborhood, and the 5 or 6 of us kids that called it home enjoyed hanging out together.
On this particular day, Tim and I were playing in his backyard. I would have been around 8 or 9 years old. He had a swing set, but after just a few minutes we were looking for something else to do. Because he lived in a split-level house, his kitchen walked out to a second level deck in the backyard, about 10 feet from the ground. Before I knew it, he had tied his sweatshirt around his neck in classic Superman fashion and proceeded to jump from the deck, arms outstretched, until the last possible moment to avoid doing a belly flop on the grass. He landed on his feet, tucked, and rolled. He jumped to his feet, and yelled at me (yep, you guessed it!) “I bet you can’t do that!”
Of course, not to be outdone, I had to do it. I climbed the stairs, legs shaking, put my arms out like he did, and jumped. I landed on my feet, tucked, and rolled. The ground was not as soft as it looked like when he jumped, but I jumped up, and shook it off. We were destined to be partner Supermen, and we had no reason to believe that was an unreasonable goal. Anything was possible for us that day.
Think back to your childhood when there were no limits to what you could be. What did you want to be from the start? Fireman, Policeman, Doctor, Nurse, etc? What was it for you? Did you reach your goals and dreams?
For those of you that did not reach all of your dreams, I have the reason why. You got educated. You got educated by your parents, your friends, your teachers, or the news. You learned that your wildest aspirations were only possible for a certain elect, and you weren’t part of that elite group. You were told the amount of work that it would take to achieve your goals, and decided (or were told) that it would take too much time or that it wouldn’t be worth it. They would tell you to face reality and quit being unreasonable. You accepted what you learned as truth and chose to chase much smaller, more easily achievable dreams.
Now, I’m not saying that your parents, friends, and teachers would intentionally mislead you or sabotage any potential success that you would experience. They were only trying to protect you from the disappointment that would come from trying something great and failing. They only wanted the best for you and to do everything they could to save you from pain. They loved you in each of their own ways. Nevertheless, based on your information, you chose to give up on YOUR dreams and settled for theirs. In the process of packing your dreams in a little box and putting them on the shelf, you unknowingly packed your ability to dream away with them.
The great news is that you can dream again and begin to achieve those goals and dreams. It is a skill that can be learned and mastered, but it takes practice. Just like a muscle, it can be worked, stretched, and strengthened, but it will take work on you.
You have accepted these limiting programs your entire life. They will scream at you to stay within your box or comfort zone. It is safe there. These programs will remind you of that time when you were a little kid and someone told you that you that you would never be good enough to __________ (fill in the blank for you). That was a painful time for you and your programs want to protect you from that. Unless you venture out, you will never have what you want in life. You have to dream again.
What do you want in life? What do you want in your relationships, in your profession, in your spiritual life? If these questions are paralyzing to you, you are normal. You may not even have answers to these questions right now. That’s ok.
Every day, take out a pen and paper and answer that question. What do I want? Write down whatever comes to mind. Any answer at all is acceptable. Just keep doing it day after day after day. Your mind will begin to answer this question as you go through your otherwise mundane tasks. You will be surprised what you will come up with.
This is only the first step to dreaming. We will cover more on this in a future blog, so stop back.
Remember, you are only as good as you want to be, but you can always be as good as you want to be!