In the third grade, my teacher Mrs. Harris laminated a collection of poems I wrote and bound it with a ribbon.
I felt like I had written my first book.
I felt like I would one day write another book.
It took me 25 years to do that.
Well, a lot of reasons.
I was really passionate about bike riding in the fourth grade. In the fifth grade, I felt like Frisbee was pretty important. In seventh grade, I discovered you could slow dance with girls at awkward middle school dances to songs by Bobby Brown.
No one would fault me too much for not writing another book in elementary school, but what happened to me from 21-33? From college graduation to my early 30s, I didn’t spend a lot of time writing. Why?
I wish I could give you some good reasons. Some noble reasons. Some, “Look at what I was focused on instead.” But I can’t. That wouldn’t be honest, and recently my five year old taught me an important lesson about honesty.
She loves to draw. When her older sister L.E. signed up for a gymnastics class, McRae didn’t flinch. She signed up for art. She loves art. She always has a fistful of crayons in her hand. Art flows out of her effortlessly.
But one night when she was brushing her teeth, she told me something surprising. Here is what she said to me:
“One year I focused on TV and didn’t do my art.”
That’s funny, because she’s only had four years before the one she’s currently in. But in her little mind, there was a year when during family free time she chose a 30 minute television show over 30 minutes of drawing. Thinking about that, she added, “Sometimes the Wii draws me away from what I really love, art.”
That’s silly and cute and adorable, but it’s also honest.
She loves art more than anything, but some things are incredibly sticky and pull her away from art. Like TV and the Wii.
Most of us never draw that same conclusion about our own lives and dreams. We start out with something we love doing, we bump into some passion as a child, as a teen, or as a young adult. Then life gets busy, we get distracted, and we get dishonest.
I didn’t write a second book for 25 years because I was watching TV.
I didn’t write a second book for 25 years because I was downloading music.
I didn’t write a second book for 25 years because I was wasting time online.
I didn’t write a second book for 25 years because I thought I would later.
I don’t know why you’re not writing your book, or starting your business, or going back to school, or doing whatever it is your dream is, but today I have one dare for you:
I dare you to be as honest as a five year old.
Don’t wait until you’re 70 or 80 or never, to ask yourself these questions:
“What do I feel called to do? And why am I not doing it?”
And then be as honest as a five year old with your answers.
What’s the biggest reason you’re not working on your dream?