Last week my 8-year-old granddaughter Zoe dropped something off at my place. As she was heading back down the stairs, she said, “I’m so excited. I’ve got a surprise to tell you about. Here’s a clue: ny.”

NY? Not yet? I was not solving the mystery.

A couple of hours later, I was at Zoe’s house and she couldn’t wait to tell me the news. Her family had decided to visit New York in October. This is their most ambitious vacation so far and Zoe was already bursting with excitement.

“There are museums and parks and I get to see The Lion King,” she exclaimed.

“I need to earn money,” she said—and she was wasting no time. “Do you have any paying chores for me?”

I expect  I’ll be hearing that question frequently in the next several months. When she came for a visit on Saturday, The Trip was on her mind. She had calculated that she wanted to raise $180. She and her father had figured out that her monthly goal for fund-raising was $20.

We brainstormed some options and I volunteered a small amount as seed money. She was off and running.

When Zoe was working her way through the Harry Potter series, every encounter with her began with an announcement of the page number she had reached. I suspect that I’ll be having regular updates on her money-raising project in the months to come.

More importantly, I’m happy that Zoe has become a practicing goalsetter at such an early age. It’s a tool that far too many adults don’t possess.

How many lovely goals and plans are abandoned because of the all-too-common approach used by the frustrated? It goes something like this: inspiration strikes, a  wonderful idea appears, then resistance kicks in with the dreambashing thought, “I don’t have the money for that,” and the idea is dead.

Do that often enough and inspiration goes elsewhere.

On the other hand, those who live with a steady stream of exciting ideas they’re bringing to life go about it in a very different way.

First, they decide what they want to do. Then, they figure out how to finance it. Perhaps it involves creating a new project to generate cash flow to fund the dream. It nearly always turns on creative thinking and uncovering hidden options.

It probably calls for some sort of tradeoff. In Zoe’s case, she may have fewer play dates with her friends while she’s helping her grandmother out. She’ll also resist the temptations of Toys R Us and use the library more and the bookstore less.

Of course, this won’t feel like deprivation to Zoe. She’s serving her apprenticeship in the fine art of building a dream.

“The mightiest works have been accomplished,” said Walter Bowie, “by those who have kept their ability to dream great dreams.” I’m going to do my part to make sure that Zoe stays in that group.

Best of all, there’s plenty of room for all of us if we are bold enough to ignore the can’ts and hows.


Want to spread some entrepreneurial spirit and acquire more dreambuilding tools? Then join me for my upcoming Joyfully Jobless Weekends. I’ll be in Houston on February 15 & 16 and Phoenix on February 22 &23. Y’all come.


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