A Choose Your Own Adventure Approach to Achieving Your Dreams
If you could do/learn/achieve ANYTHING you wanted, what dreams would you chase?
At Storyteller Academy, we believe anyone can learn all of the elements of storytelling: writing, drawing, voice, etc. They’re skills that you can learn.
But let’s blow things wide open today. Stephen Duneier’s TED Talk, “How to Achieve Your Most Ambitious Goals,” got me thinking about where I’ve been limiting my own happiness by playing small.
If you have something to write with, I want you to make a list of everything you’d love to do if you didn’t have any limitations. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do that you’ve told yourself you can’t do?
I just wrote down eight things that I’m going to quit telling myself that I can’t have.
There might be things on your list that someone else is telling you that you can’t do. We all have people like that in my lives, don’t we? It’s hard not to listen to them. Their voices can become thoughts in your head that create limitations, BUT if you write down your dreams/goals, those limitations don’t always make sense.
I grew up in a big family, and people (inside and outside of my family) referred to my sister (who is ten years older than I am) as “the artist” in our family. She drew and painted all the time, and—even before she studied art in college—she had this amazingly realistic style. I liked to draw, but my style was never realistic, and I was self-conscious about letting anyone see my drawings because people inevitably drew comparisons between them and my sister’s or those of a best friend, who was “the artist” in our group of friends. Only recently did I realize that in comparing my work to my sister’s, I was comparing myself to someone who had TEN YEARS of practice. It wasn’t a fair comparison.
But that’s the thing: comparing yourself to someone else (especially someone who makes a living doing what you want to do) doesn’t tell you what kind of artist (or writer or whatever) you are. If you’re working toward improving your craft, you’re changing all of that. The only comparison that ever matters is comparing your old work with your new work, and then it’s to gage whether you’re moving in the right direction.
It helps to have friends who believe you can achieve your dreams, especially friends who are working toward the same goals that you are.
The first time I ever talked to Arree, he somehow got me to admit that I liked drawing but didn’t feel like I was any good. I got a lecture on not limiting myself, and he put me in a critique group with a bunch of illustrators who are still encouraging me to draw and make picture book dummies. They’re the best. They never compare my work to my sister’s.
By the way, that sister went back to school and became a nurse at 50 years old. I’m proud of her. In addition to being the artist, she was also the squeamish one in our family, so she had to work through some limiting beliefs of her own.
It’s never too late to make a course correction or start working toward a goal. Just figure out what small daily adjustment you’re going to implement to take you there. And let go of any voices and beliefs that have been holding you back.
Thanks for reading!
Myrna Foster writes and edits content for Storyteller Academy and the WriteRiders Newsletter for SCBWI Nevada. She has spent a lot of time teaching and coaching children, including five years as a preschool teacher. She's also worked as a journalist, and Highlights High Five has published six of her poems.
Arree Chung is an author/illustrator and the founder of Storyteller Academy. Arree’s Ninja! series has received starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal. Kirkus also gave a starred review to Mixed, which recently won the FCGB award.
Today Arree lives a creative life, making stories for children. Arree spends most of his time making picture books, writing middle grade novels, and sharing his love for art, design, and storytelling with kids and dreamers everywhere.