You’re pretty sure you can do anything a 4-year-old can, right?
Are you as self-motivated as a
Before you answer that second question, you’ll want to read this, first.
Our dear friends, Heather and Brian shared a story about their sweet, adorable, gifted, and sometimes-sassy daughter, Kate.
There’s a lesson to be learned and it comes wrapped in childlike simplicity.
It’s a story I’d like to share with you.
Kate turned 4-years-old, this spring.
That’s Kate in the photo wearing her ‘Birthday Girl’ shirt.
She’s so precocious, every time Steven and I are around her we want to take her home with us.
Since you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Kate, allow me to share a few of her most incredible and delightful personality traits.
Kate is the happiest, most secure and self-confident little girl I’ve ever met.
She’s smart as a whip and very light and fun-loving.
To meet her is to love her.
And to know her is to be enchanted by her.
If Kate could read this by herself she’d want you to know that she loves doing craft projects, too.
Goal Setting 101
Three months before her birthday, Kate announced to her parents, ‘When I turn 4 there are 4 things I’m going to do.’
Keep in mind; this was a total surprise to Brian and Heather.
It was self-directed and came without any prompting or prodding by them.
Kate’s 4 goals were:
1.) she was going to eat salad,
2.) she was going to ride a 2-wheel bike,
3.) she was going to learn how to swim and
4.) she was going to learn how to dress herself.
She decided these things on her own and made a promise to herself that she was going to achieve them.
A Promise with a Deadline
Kate’s too young to know adults call this goal setting, targets or a ‘to do’ list.
Most of us could learn something by how simple she kept the process.
Kate promised herself that she was going to do these things and she gave herself a deadline.
She was going to do them when she turned 4.
Simple, simple Simon.
It was as easy as that!
Keeping an Eye on the Prize
Heather and Brian told me an interesting thing happened once Kate shared her announcement with them.
Every day, without fail, Kate would re-state each of her targets at an appropriate time during her day.
When one of them was dressing or undressing her, she would say something like, ‘When I’m 4, I’m going to dress myself.’
Brian and Heather have salad with dinner, every night. While they were eating their salads Kate would share, ‘I’m going to eat salad, when I turn 4.’
When they drove past the local gym, Kate would proudly state, ‘When I turn 4, I’m going to take swimming lessons there!’
Not wanting to pressure her, they gave Kate positive reinforcement, while not making a big deal over her proclamations.
After all, they thought, she’s only turning 4.
The Big Day Arrives
It should come as no surprise that Kate’s birthday arrived and without prompting she began eating salad.
She also asked her parents to teach her how to dress herself.
Those tasks seemed pretty do-able.
Kate was proud and content with her accomplishments.
True to what Benjamin Disraeli said:
‘Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.’
The Dreaded Deadline
The week following her birthday, Heather and Brian noticed that Kate’s mood noticeably changed.
She just wasn’t herself.
For the first few days they brushed off her unusual mood.
Everyone’s entitled to be a little snarky now and then or maybe she hadn’t slept well.
A few days passed.
When there was no improvement in Kate’s disposition, they decided to talk with her to see if they could figure out the mystery, as a family.
Putting the Pieces Together
I’m amazed at the clarity and insight Kate shared with them.
We should all be so self-aware.
Kate was disappointed she turned 4 and only kept 2 of the 4 promises she made to herself.
She was frustrated because she didn’t feel she had kept her word.
Brian and Heather quickly explained that she should be excited and happy that she reached half her goals, in such a short time.
In terms Kate could understand, they explained that she had months and months to complete her other promises.
Using a calendar they showed her all the holidays and family celebrations that would pass before her 5th birthday arrived.
That made Kate very happy.
There was a shift in her mood and all was right with her world, again.
10 Simple Steps to Keeping Your Promises
What can you learn from a 4-year-old about reaching your dreams?
1.) Spend some time thinking. Get clear about what you really really want.
2.) Choose what you want and set your intention to ‘go for it’.
3.) Make a promise to yourself. If the thought of goal-setting is a turn-off, think of it as a promise. There’s nothing more important than keeping your word, especially to yourself, right?
4.) Share your intention with someone else to keep you accountable.
5.) Reinforce your dream, on a daily basis. Remind yourself what reaching your dreams is going to look and feel like, every day.
6.) Set a deadline and share it with someone, so you know you’re responsible for reaching your dream.
7.) Take action! Taking baby-steps is the only way to reach most dreams. If you take consistent action towards your dreams you will reach them.
8.) Be realistic with your timing. You’ll likely not reach your dreams overnight. You are most powerful when you combine your action with your intention.
9.) Stay focused. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted. Remember, ‘Where attention goes, energy flows.’
10.) Be grateful and happy. When you’ve reached your dream, whatever that may be; take time to show your appreciation and joy for having achieved it.
If a 4-year old can do it, you can do it, too, right?
I know you can.
I believe in you.
I’m pretty sure Kate’s in your corner, too.
P.S. – I thought you’d like to know that Kate’s learning how to swim.
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