When you become a parent, your dreams don’t just disappear. You might want to pursue a new career, become debt-free, get in shape, or maybe even all of the above. But you’re already overwhelmed — how do you pursue a dream while being a parent?

Here are five steps you can take to help you achieve your dream.

1. Think about where you are.

Be realistic about your situation. Don’t hold back. Ask your spouse and your closest friends for their input.

Spend some time in silence and pray about it, too. It’s essential to know where you are before you map out a route to the destination.

2. Have a support system in place.

Get your spouse on the same page with you. If you are a single parent, reach out to family and friends.

Moms need support from other moms and dads need support from other dads. This could mean a phone call, meeting for coffee, or sending a text message. Don’t overlook the power of encouragement!

3. Pursue smaller, achievable goals.

A dream not broken down into specific goals is not clear enough. Life happens, time goes by, and you get off track. When you have laser-like focus, you get more done.

4. Remember life is seasonal.

If you have a newborn, you know his sleeping patterns will be inconsistent. That means you’ll have less time and energy for your dream. Over time, as your baby adjusts to a sleep schedule, you will too.

The same goes for when your family plays the “pass the cold around” game. It’s normal to feel discouraged. Use your support system to get a needed lift. Do what you can do. 

5. Don’t compare with others.

Comparison always leads to jealousy. Focus on your attitude, and take note when it gets negative. A great way to avoid falling into this trap is to compliment others instead of getting angry and bitter.

Photo by Sathyatripodi (Creative Commons)

Let’s apply these concepts in a real-life example:

Meet Mike and Jenny Willis. Mike is a full-time engineer working 50 hours a week. Jenny stays at home with their two kids: Jimmy, 3 years old and potty training, and Johnny, 6 months old and teething. Mike and Jenny are $55,000 in debt. Their dream is becoming debt free.

1. Think about where you are.

Mike and Jenny are in a very challenging place right now. Until they get control of their finances, the debt will not just go away by itself. Mike is working a lot of hours and this must be taken into consideration too.

2. Have a support system in place.

Mike and Jenny need to support each other, both talking things through and coming to an agreement about getting out of debt. They also need to reach out to friends who can encourage them — another family who has become debt free could provide guidance.

3. Pursue smaller, achievable goals.

Working out a budget and then filling it in with actual numbers at month’s end would be a fantastic first step. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A simple Excel spreadsheet could work or even a piece of paper and a pencil. The next step could be knocking out the smallest debt owed.

4. Remember life is seasonal.

The financial situation will improve. Johnny will stop teething. Jimmy will soon be potty trained. Mike’s hours could decrease if he asks for help at work or finds another job that pays more or lets him work fewer hours.

5. Don’t compare with others.

Mike and Jenny should keep their goal in mind and not be discouraged by the amazing meals and desserts in their Instagram feed.

Yes, pursuing a dream is difficult, but know it will be worth it. 

Remember good things do not happen overnight, so doing great things take even more time.

As you develop good habits, you’ll reshape your routine — and this will help you build momentum and grow. Challenges will come, but with support and intentionality, you can achieve amazing things.

Jim Woods, an author, freelance writer and writing coach who loves helping others share and tell better stories.
Jim Woods, an author, freelance writer and writing coach who loves helping others share and tell better stories.

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