Yesterday, I passed the Nursery class after dropping Noah off at his classroom for the day. The kids formed two lines, with their Chinese teacher demonstrating how to, if I understood their gestures correctly, walk properly within their lines.
Their hands at their hips, the taller assistant standing behind her, the Nursery teacher spoke her instructions in smooth and fluent Mandarin.
I listened to the unfamiliar words, letting them take me back to an older Chinese-English elementary school where the teachers drilled the same language into the students’ heads. It’s a lot to ask from a seven-year-old, but I couldn’t help wishing I had been more mature when I had that education served to me every afternoon.
I read English, I speak and write in English, which isn’t to say it’s perfect, but it’s how I primarily communicate.
When I fly home, my brain switches to English-Hiligaynon. It can recognize the minimal Fookien that’s embedded into my childhood, but I can’t write or speak.
When I’m in Manila, I switch again to English-Tagalog.
When I’m here in Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, I try as hard as I can to develop my English-Bisaya.
There’s really not much to my name. Just two major languages and two dialects, one of which I can never claim to be fluent with.
I continued to listen to the teacher speak Mandarin, echoing behind me as I slowed my pace on my way out to the school exit. And I thought about it:
What if I could master Mandarin?
Every bucket list and wish list item that gets my seal of approval I place in this board. I call it my Dreams Board and it serves as my go-to place for inspiration and motivation.
I adopted this system last year. Since creating it, I’d take a look at this board when I feel envious, regretful, and wishful. Every time I see others in my social media feeds traveling, living in their dream home, working amazing jobs, looking fit and sexy, or just about anything I’M NOT, I go here.
What does a Dreams board look like?
A Dreams Board works like an idea dump. It’s where you can list all the things you want to do, experience, buy, and achieve over the course of your life.
There are no rules and limitations. You can have 100 dreams if you want. Right now my Dreams board has 32 dreams and goals I’d like to do and accomplish in my lifetime.
Using the Kanban method, you can create lists or sections to categorize your dreams. For my board, my lists consist of the top 5 things that I love and that fulfills me:
What can happen over time is change. If you re-visit your Dreams board six months after creating it, you may feel buying this expensive item or visiting this country may not be what you truly want after all.
In this case, you’re free to remove the dream from the board and add other dreams that motivate you more and that’ll make you happier.
Finally, the most important step is to make these dreams a reality. Obviously that’s something the Dreams Board can’t do for you, but you can revisit it from time to time to remind you of why you’re working super hard to make them happen.
Envision and concretize those dreams
Re-learning Chinese has been on my bucket list, but it was always just an idea in my head, fleeting because the sole purpose of wanting to do so was to prove to my family back home that I wasn’t such a loser.
After yesterday’s experience, I thought about it and learned to love the idea of being able to master a language as difficult as Mandarin.
I can imagine 2-3 years living in a small apartment in Taiwan or Beijing, stressed and out of my wits for not having eaten in days because I couldn’t read the road signs or talk to the locals. I can imagine being able to watch Chinese films, TV series, dramas, and news channels without needing subtitles or a translator. I can imagine coming home to the Philippines with full appreciation for Chinese culture, while paying homage to my Visayan roots.
I’m sure many other people have similar dreams, except they’d like to perhaps learn European languages like French or Spanish. I think what’s necessary is putting it into writing, or just turning it into something concrete. It should be a life goal or Heart’s Desire (you can probably tell where that’s from) that you can see and touch, that you can always return to after a long day or if someone on Facebook or Instagram made you feel helpless and envious again.
I’m glad I have my planner to flesh these dreams out, and I have my Dreams Board to dump those desires into so it doesn’t become mere memory. I’ve been less angsty and envious since the new year started thanks to these two.
If you wanna create your own Dreams board, there’s plenty of places to start. It can be your planner for the year or your favorite notebook.
I use my Passion Planner and Trello for all of my dream listing and goal mapping. If you’re using other tools like Asana or Zenkit, feel free to give it a try.
What’s important is 1) this is a tool you use everyday, and 2) this is a tool that makes it super easy to work on your dreams. By that I mean allowing you to upload images and photos, writing down descriptions, attaching links to websites that’ll help you realize the dream, etc.