If you think it’s too late, think again
By Deborah Dobbs, M.A. / Contributor
It was February 2006, the week before I delivered my daughter. I was enjoying lunch with my father at Lavendou Bistro, my favorite place. I remember savoring every morsel, as if it was my last meal. I truly believed that once my daughter began her life in this world, my life would no longer be my own. My amused father assured me my life wasn’t over and that I would still find time to do the things I loved, including writing that novel I’d finally felt ready to start.
I didn’t believe him.
As a new mom, taking a long shower equated to a vacation. Fortunately, I soon realized that sacrificing my sense of self would set a terrible example for my little girl. I started doing more things for me, but that novel…that was a tough task to fit in.
Then my 40’s arrived, and they brought with them a sense of urgency. Parenthood might put your dream into hibernation, but if it’s authentic and sincere, that sleeping giant will indeed wake.
For me, the dream was writing a novel. Perhaps your dream involves extensive exotic travel, and parenthood has redefined extensive and exotic to mean spending a long weekend in a different country, minus the r. Perhaps it’s starting your own company. What I can tell you is that the sense of accomplishment upon recognizing your dream is worth all the hard work it requires. It took me two years, but I wrote a pretty good novel! (Getting it published is another dream altogether.) Here are a few things that helped me fulfill a dream. Maybe they’ll help you, too.
Consider a few things before you commit to pursuing the dream. Is the dream truly yours? Is it your passion or might it be envy of another’s life? Is the dream within your skill set? Are the obstacles between you and your dream moveable; are they self-inflicted or even toxic? Put these things on paper and give them ample consideration.
Mark a start date on your calendar. If you think you don’t have time, re-evaluate that. We have more leisure time than we think. (We covered this in the last issue. If you didn’t catch that article, you can find it on the Good Life Family website.)
Take it easy!
Don’t set yourself up to be discouraged by setting expectations too high. For instance, writing 50,000 words in a month wasn’t something I could reasonably handle. Instead, I learned to carve out windows of time to write. My chapters tend to be short, and the completion of each chapter boosted my morale. Take steps toward your dream that are manageable. Set achievable goals. Those small victories will keep you motivated.
Try this: When you lay your head on your pillow to go to sleep, see yourself doing whatever your dream is. There’s a magical place in between the awake and the sleep states, so settle into that fulfilled dream as you drift off.
Brace Yourself for Backlash
People tend to resist change, and when you commit to pursuing a dream, that involves change. Families and social networks consist of people put together like a puzzle, and now you’re changing your shape. Your kids might interfere with your efforts because they’re not getting as much attention. Friends might be envious. Don’t let them get you down. With time, they’ll adjust.
Get an Accountability Partner
Many people suggest finding other parents who’ve also decided to pursue a dream. I strongly suggest enlisting the help of a pro. Yes, a therapist. (Not a “life coach,” unless that person is a licensed mental health professional.) Therapy isn’t a service reserved for when things go terribly wrong. Pursuing life goals, strategizing and overcoming obstacles and setbacks all fall within a therapist’s range.
Editor’s Note: Deborah Dobbs, M.A. is a sociologist with 21 years experience at The Counseling Place, a non-profit agency dedicated to strengthening emotional health in people of all ages. You can reach her at 469.283.0242 or www.counselingplace.org.