Where did it go? In a blink, here we are, the week after Labour Day. Another summer in the books.
I have many favourites from this summer. Some, I'm sure, will show up in my blog over the next weeks. I loved my Tuesday Treks, my bike rides, our camping trips, and especially my days with Ben. Little Andy is still too small to spend full days with us but Ben looks forward to his 'Gramma Days'. At three, he's old enough to not only look forward to them but to have some ideas about what we can do together. One day, when he and I were chatting on FaceTime and talking about what we'd do on our next day together, he suggested we visit our friend Shirley on her farm. He absolutely loves his visits with Shirley.
"Can we make that happen?", he asked.
Something about this simple question has stuck with me. I loved his choice of words. I loved that he has an understanding that a lot of what we do is under our own control. That we are not victims, bumbling along, being acted upon. I've been using this phrase all summer.
Can we make that happen?
Each of us has hopes and dreams for our days, our weeks, our year and our lives. We want so badly for certain things to happen. We hope a coveted job opens up and we'll be considered for it. We imagine ourselves looking through photographs of trips we have taken. We long for visits with treasured family and friends. We wish we could perfect a skill. Too often we don't get past the hoping and dreaming stage. We want it, we dream it, we may write it, or even say it. But so often, we forget the critical piece. We forget to make it happen.
I recognize that many, perhaps most, of my unfulfilled longings, both of this summer and of my life, were so for one reason. I didn't make them happen. It wasn't on purpose. There have been times I've naively thought others might make things happen for me. If I just worked hard enough someone might invite me to step into my own dreams. Sometimes I filled my schedule with other good and noble activities, leaving no time for my dreams and longings. Sometimes I didn't take the first step.
Alas, time has a way of marching on, squeezing us until we are uncomfortable enough to make choices. Almost always something has to be let go.
Most of us accept this, as we should. If however, we do accept that things will have to be let go, we should also accept that it is NOT an act of randomness as to which of our activities, desires, dreams, plans or hopes gets squeezed out, which one is left off the schedule, which one is never realized. This is not random. The one squeezed out is the one we did not make happen.
The older I get, the broader my view of life becomes. I find it easier to get above the picture that is my life, and notice which things are leading me to become who I strive to be, and making me most satisfied and peaceful. From this view, I can easily see what I want to 'make happen'. It doesn't mean these things are made happen without sacrifice and deliberate action. It does mean they are important to me and it is up to me to make them happen.
Ben and Andy are lucky little boys indeed. They live in a home where they can play, learn, and test their boundaries all while feeling safe and loved. They also have one extra piece of luck. They have parents who carefully choose to use language that helps them be self-assured, confident, risk takers and to have agency over themselves. I noticed when Ben asked about going to Shirley's he did not ask if I could make it happen. He asked, 'Can WE make that happen.'
Children use language they hear daily. Clearly Ben has heard his parents say, 'We can make that happen', inferring that each of them will have a part in the realization of the goal.
It's September. For me this is a time of new beginnings. It's a time to ponder life and consider what I want to make happen. I wonder what we each could achieve if our self-talk included less of 'I could never do that' or 'I wish I could do that', and more of 'How can I make that happen'.
'We can make that happen' has become a catch phrase in our home and with my hiking partners. Often it's said with a smile, kind of like we're not taking it too seriously. After all, we're quoting a three year old. And yet, as soon as it's said, something is set in motion, and it begins to happen. There's power in these words.
My inquiry for you this week is, 'How can I make this happen?'
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with individuals, corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. She has particular expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to make it happen.