The best way to increase the odds that your child will live a certain way is to live that way yourself. The best way to raise readers is to read. The best way to raise doers is to do.
The best way to raise active, engaged learners is to be an active, engaged learner. — Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners
Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting. In terms of teaching our children to dare greatly in the “never enough” culture, the question isn’t so much “Are you parenting the right way?” as it is: “Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?” — Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
Train up a child in the way he should go — but be sure you go that way yourself. — Charles Spurgeon
This series of posts talks about how we can start living ourselves the engaged, learning, working, doing, making life we want for our children.
Maybe you struggle to find time for your own interests and yearn to start a learning project of your own. Maybe you want to start a small business and wonder how you can possibly balance that with homeschooling. Maybe you wish you could homeschool yourself and become a better learner, maker, and sharer.
We’ll talk about how to take PBH principles and apply them to your own life — so you can prioritize the things that are most important to you, begin doing your meaningful work, and finally start living the life you always secretly wanted.
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Posts in this series:
Learning to use the time you have
“This is a math equation and you are plugging in the small work variable but don’t forget you get to multiply by the days, and there are a lot of them. They stretch out in front of you and they become months and years and more years. Someone once wrote to Dear Abby and said, I want to be a doctor but I’m so old — I’ll be 45 before I get out of medical school. And she said, And how old will you be if you don’t go to medical school?”
Creating a supportive environment
“The whole world is trying to distract you away from your meaningful work. It is constantly bombarding you with messages about what it cares about: your clothes, your electronics, your weight, your dinner plans, your entertainment choices.
Create an environment that helps you focus. Advertise to yourself. Create visual reminders that call you back to your highest priorities. Make sure your space is constantly bombarding you with messages about what you care about: your family, your work, your values, your priorities, your goals.
Use your space to promote your most authentic life.”
Getting out of your own way
“[B]efore you even begin, you have to give yourself permission. Permission to care. Permission to try. Permission to fail. Permission to be imperfect. Permission to care about yourself as well as the people you love, so you can do more, be more, and give more. Permission to be whole, flawed, real, and embarrasingly out here where people can see you.”
Stacking the deck in your favor
“The truth is, the world is conspiring against you. You’re being tugged in a million different directions, not just by the people closest to you but by gigantic corporations with big marketing budgets. And if you’re out there alone and defenseless, you are likely to succumb to the constant barrage and end up on a bench somewhere wearing a Tigger t-shirt, holding half a giant pretzel, wondering what happened to your life.”
How to find your passion and your meaningful work
“You can see how this works. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten. To get something different, we have to do something different. To have new ideas and information to work with, we have to toss some new stuff in our bucket. To think of ourselves in new ways, we have to show ourselves that we can be different people.”
Learning to focus, lesson 1: Narrowing down your interests
“The weird thing is, narowing our options makes us feel cheated and depressed because we’re not getting everything we want — even though doing NOTHING means we get NOTHING we want.
When we resist choosing/narrowing/focusing, we do nothing, so we go nowhere and we get nothing.
You aren’t sure which thing is really for you? Of course you aren’t. You have to live it to learn it.”
Finding the true path to happiness
“Happiness is a slippery thing. You grab for it and it squirts away. If all you do is focus on yourself and what you want, you’ll be miserable. True happiness comes from being part of a larger world, caring about something, and making a real contribution.
Happiness is the cart that belongs behind the horse of a life lived well.”
What soul-withering cold-calling taught me about positivity
“You can focus on what you don’t like, or you can focus on what you do like. Which one of those things is going to show you the way forward?
You can focus on your deficits, or you can focus on your strengths — which is going to make you stand out from the crowd?
You can focus on the people who lift you up or you can focus on the people who bring you down — which of those groups is going to help you fulfill your mission?
You can focus on what you can do or you can focus on what you can’t — which is going to help you live a life of action?”
Dealing with haters
“Invest your time, your energy, and your love in what loves you back.
Invest in what matters.
Reclaim all that real estate in your heart and your brain and your week for what loves you back.”
The non-extreme path toward success
“Whatever it is you want to do, you need to stop pacing back and forth on the diving board and just jump in the damn water. Getting wet is going to teach you a lot more than all the thinking you’re doing on dry land.”
Stop preshrinking your opportunities
“Stop making it small before you even get started. Stop saying it’s not a big deal. Stop whittling away at your dream. Here’s how it’s supposed to work: you have a BIG dream and the world whittles it down for you. You don’t whittle down your OWN dream.
Stop putting artificial limits on what’s possible. Why are you building fences already? You don’t even know where you might go!
Stop playing it safe. Stop hedging your bets. This is it, baby. Your one wild and precious life. Stop worrying about going too big — it’s the big, epic stuff we remember and care about. When you make it small, you make it forgettable. You will care less about it — how are other people going to feel?”
Renovating your brain: building new habits of mind
The reason we want to help children direct and manage their own learning is so they can strengthen those habits of mind. We’re a little older; we are doing more renovating than building. We have to tear down those thoughts and beliefs and habits that aren’t working for us and replace them with better ones.
The Introvert’s Guide to Building Community
No matter what you want to accomplish, community is key. Whether it’s online or offline, whether it’s focused on you or your kids, community is where you see how you fit and how you can contribute. It can be as simple as having two other families to hike with once a week or as complex as an online forum with thousands of members — but it comes down to finding other people who want to do what you want to do.
Getting Support from Family and Friends
When you decide to do something new, you are starting down a path of growth and change. In general, the people around you like you just the way you are. That’s why they’re friends with you. And if they’re related to you, then they’re very comfortable with you the way you are — you have a defined personality and a defined role in the family. Why would they want you to change and shake everything up? If you change, they might be forced to change, too. Your change is liable to shift the whole dynamic of the group. They can sense it in the air, like Disney animals before a forest fire.
What we want to do is make room for purposeful sharing and contributing by eliminating some of the random giving we do now. We want to reclaim some of our time that others may be using for things that don't matter as much to us and use it for things that do.
Our aim is to be kind and generous without being taken advantage of or taken for granted.
How to Believe in Yourself
Learning to believe in yourself is much more than a flowers and rainbows moment where you look in the mirror and chant affirmations. Lack of trust in yourself is like a boot on your car, keeping you from going anywhere.
Pick Yourself — Even if the Team Wants You
If no one picks you, then baby, get out there and pick yourself. Start hustling.
But if someone does pick you, take time to think about it. Consider what you’re giving them and what you’re getting in return. Consider what you’re investing and who’s going to reap the returns. Think about how you might invest your talents in something that would belong entirely to you. Then do what’s best for you. But keep your eye always on what you want — the life you want to live, the person you want to be, the thing you want to build and share. Don’t let someone else’s validation knock you off course.
Pick yourself — even if you get picked.
Five Ways to Find More Time for the Things that Matter
This is what you want to avoid: Generic activities for generic people.
When you shrink from the anxiety and challenge of building your own thing and just jump into someone else’s thing out of fear/nervousness/avoidance, you’re choosing what’s easy instead of what’s hard. And the path toward your own personal, meaningful work is at some point going to require hard.
Stop and consider: Is this really the thing that connects me with my deepest interests, my nascent talents, and my values?