One day I was looking out an open window and my son, who was about 3 or 4 at the time, was in the backyard with a cape playing superman. I was watching him run, jump and grunt in what appeared to be a sincere effort to try to fly. He tried “lift off” over and over without success several times, just to make sure I guess. Finally he stopped trying and just kept on happily playing in the yard as enthusiastically as at the start. Observing him going through that “reality check” at such a young age was strange yet interesting. I can remember feeling sad for him as any father would because no one likes to see someone they love face disappointment. Still, at the same time I was happy that he was able to bounce back and keep right on playing, seemingly un-phased. One of the things that many of us love about children is how they imagine and dream. At the same time, another great quality in children is their incredible resiliency. Interestingly, as we get older we may decrease in our inborn abilities in both of these areas; As life hands us more and more “reality checks” over the years, we may lose our ability to dream, and it may also take longer and longer to bounce back from disappointment if we are not careful. You rarely hear of a child needing a few days off to de-stress and start taking anti-depressants after simply learning that he or she can’t fly like superman. Healthy children just readjust and refocus their dreams and keep on going as they face reality.
As we become adults and increase in our level of life experience we learn to clarify, define and express our dreams through our personal life goals. Effective life goals take into account our hopes and dreams while always considering the ever-present realities that we face. It is so critical to our happiness that we keep our goals in front of us or else life can become stagnant, mundane and even depressing. However, in order to set the right goals for ourselves, we cannot afford to ignore reality either. So, rather than letting reality crush our hopes and dreams, why not view reality as a guide instead of as a barrier? If reality insists for now that you that you cannot fly, then simply modify your goals based on what you can do. The important thing is to just keep on moving in the right direction no matter what comes our way.