3 STEPS: How to Turn Dreamers into Doers
By Heather McMillan
My "little-self" would have a good laugh upon reading this post and learning that I actually LOVE diligence.
Being Diligent was never very easy for me as a child. I was a dreamer. Through and through. I wanted to live in Bookville or Toyland. Chore time, homework, meal time, bed time...I re-purposed them all with daydreaming.
Now that I'm grown, and my own kids are almost grown too, I am VERY glad I was given such a vivid imagination. It helped me see mere patches of blue sky, and know the weather was clearing. It also helped me find the valuable resources hidden in odds and ends.
Being a dreamer has brought me joy. My life has been full of adventure, and I'm still anticipating more. I imagine I will always imagine.
But here's the thing. Without diligence, my imagination could have kept me locked in dreamland. I would have never started. I would have never worked hard or finished with an exhilarating flourish.
Diligence puts our dreams within reach. It turns what we imagine into an amazing reality.
So, how do children like me, with their noses in books and their heads in the clouds develop such a necessary skill?
Parents. Grandparents. Teachers. They are the change makers. Here's how mine did it.
- Look at your child...honestly. I was pretty good at making things look pretty good. Though my heart was quite willing, I rarely, and I do mean rarely, did anything in a timely manner. To hide my procrastination I made excuses and then started outright lying, then cheating in school. The truth is, I wasn't just a dreamer. I had a bad habit I couldn't hide. A crippling character flaw. I'm pretty sure at some point my parents didn't think it was cute anymore...nor did my teachers. which leads me to point 2.
- Be the adult. Someone had to outlast me. Someone had to hold the line. My parents lovingly yet firmly set expectations for me and then held me to a standard that gradually increased. It was hard and I didn't like it. But, the adults in my life were just that. The adults. They didn't let me decide how I was going to live my life. They wouldn't take no for an answer. I'm sure I tried to wear them down, but I'm so grateful that they stuck it out. They persevered. They loved me enough to help me change. If you're raising a dreamer you have to be strong. Counter their excuses with truth. "Yes you can do it." "I mean right now." "Please come back and try this again." "I need to see more from you today." "I believe in you." "I'm going to set a timer." These are words I was far to familiar with as a child, And you know what? They were right. And they were uncomfortable. And they gradually changed my life.
- Be patient, so you can stay balanced. Parenting is hard work...and you won't reach a child's heart overnight. Impatience can make you have all kinds of negative emotions toward yourself and your child. trust me, I know. Taking time to enjoy your dreamer will keep you balanced and sane. I'm not sure any parent can always see clearly enough to be perfectly balanced, and that's OK. Through much prayer, my parents gave their dreamer both encouragement and discipline (Perhaps it is good to try for equal parts). Encouragement, so my passionate heart wasn't crushed, and discipline so my lazy nature didn't steal my future from me. Yes. The very future I am living now and fully enjoying.
So, if you're raising a dreamer, take it from me. You got this, mama. You can do this daddy. Because you aren't eliminating their dreams. In fact, by training them to be diligent you are giving them a tool they need to actually live them all.
I believe in you.