New Start – New You!
So the end of the summer holidays has arrived and next week English schools return in their droves. Whether or not that includes you and your children though, this blog post is about new starts, re-energizing and launching off onto the next part of our life journey. For those who are going back to school, a new term at the beginning of a new academic year is always a good opportunity to start with a clean slate, but more than that it can be the start or even the rekindling of a whole new you!
The “E” in RESET stands for ‘energize’ and part of that involves re-establishing focus and motivation to achieve and succeed whether that is at a personal level as a parent, at an individual level with your child/teen or at a group level as part of the family team. It is part of a bigger process of rationalizing and reasoning, restabilising or evening out, and putting the support levels in place that are needed but can be a useful tool to use, particularly at this time of the year with the children as they go back to school, college and university. It’s also something we’ve done collectively and individually over a number of years that has paid great dividends for each of the children especially in recent years. In essence the first part of the process is called DREAM DRIVING which is a fun activity that can be adapted for even the smallest child to a greater or lesser extent.
Essentially dream driving is all about giving some tangible grounding to our dreams before we take these and establish some goals and targets from them for the coming year. We’ve always used a world map which translates back to when the children were small, but you could equally use a mind map, list, or different sheets of paper for each area or a whole host of other options which are out there to brainstorm facilitating a means to relay our deepest dreams, wishes, hopes and aspirations onto paper! For younger children we used to use a monopoly car and literally drive it over the map, dropping off “dreams” onto the paper as we went.
So for instance, using the example below we would start with North America and look at money matters! In x period of time (might be a year, might be 6 months, might be less) what do you want to have managed to do with your money! It may be as simple as a means to encourage saving. One year, for instance, this led to one son deciding he wanted to be better organised with his pocket money. Rather than spend it the moment he got it, he wanted to make sure he kept some each month so that got written down here. It may be with an older teenager they would like to get a Saturday job, or find some babysitting, save up for something special. The choices are endless but equally they are unique.
Next we head south to South America. This is often a trickier one particularly if it’s an area that isn’t discussed much at home but essentially is there an area of our emotional life that needs challenging. If may be finding resources to cope with upset such as being told the word “NO” occasionally. It could be that the person who is dream driving would like to feel better about themselves and have more confidence. It may be that they would like to overcome something. Again write it down – dreams include dealing with a whole host of experiences.
We then move onto Europe. For those saddled with health problems this can be helpful. For instance it may be as simple as being more organised with taking medication on time. However, it doesn’t just have to be for those with health issues and can cover diet, exercise and wellbeing which affects us all. For children it could be that they want to join a football club, eat less chips or even ensure they wash their hands before meals. REMEMBER though these are their dreams not the parents because ultimately they need to own them to set the goals which they can then work towards!
Into Africa, the “relationships” dreams cover a plethora of opportunity depending on the person filling it in. What relationships are helpful to us? What relationships are not helpful? What relationships would we like to improve? What about our intrapersonal relationship – the relationship we have with ourselves, maybe between our hearts and heads for example, if that hasn’t already been touched on!
The part of the world that handles Beliefs is also far reaching and is a good area for us to challenge our belief systems not just in terms of faiths, race and cultural beliefs but also in terms of what we belief we are capable of, what others are capable of, discrimination, views and opinions etc. What does the word “belief” mean to you?
In Australia we meet “Fun” and it’s time to offload the dreams to do with fun from social activities to holidays to reading more books to getting out more or enjoying a new activity. It might include learning a new craft, a new language or simply picking up those paints or the embroidery that has been sat in the corner for years! It may be taking some of these and teaching our children how to do them to spending more family time together! The choices are endless here. Write it all down!
Finally with all those dreams dropped off onto the paper now it’s time to fill the car itself up with knowledge. This is essentially about self-improvement. For children/teens/students it may be related to their studies whilst for adults it may include other skill bases.
With the dream driving map in front of you, you may have a million dreams like the stars in the sky or you may just have one or two. The number doesn’t matter but the key is to take these (where you have a considerable number, maybe select the most important to you from each section) and build these into a goal for the year ahead. So for instance, if your child has said they want to improve in Maths at school then find out exactly how they want to improve and help them set that as a unique goal for them for the year which gives them something to aim for. Then set them on their way as they go off to school to achieve it! Have their dream driving map up on the wall and maybe this one goal alongside it. A lad we know did just that – he wasn’t happy to be targeted for a B in his GCSE’s at Maths so set his goal last year to get an A! He ended up with an A*! That’s what having a dream, setting a goal and going for it can do! It doesn’t need to be academic – it just needs to be fit for purpose. To suit the person at the level and stage they are at but critically it needs to be their drive and their Dream!