• Jim

The Rocky Road to Dublin


How to be a Realistic Optimist

Then off to reap the corn and leave where I was born Cut a stout, black thorn to banish ghosts and goblins A brand-new pair of brogues to rattle over the bogs And frighten all the dogs on the rocky road to Dublin


The Rocky Road to Dublin


The young man in the song, “The Rocky Road to Dublin,” prepares to leave his family, friends and home in the small town of Tuam in Galway to make his way to Dublin and eventually Liverpool, knowing there will be obstacles like ghosts and goblins, swampy bogs and wild dogs that he will have to face. In Mullingar, he is laughed at for his strange ways. In Dublin, he gets robbed. On the boat to Liverpool, he has to sleep with pigs on a ship and once he arrives in England, gets in a brawl with some locals. Through all these trials, he nevers waivers from his goal.


Heidi Grant Halvorsen would call the hero in the song a realistic optimist. In her book, “9 Things Successful People Do Differently,” she talks about the need to be a realistic optimist when shooting for your goals.


The realistic optimist knows the path to achieving any worthwhile goal requires time, effort and persistence in the face of difficulty. A realistic optimist, like the young man in the song, believes they will succeed, but knows that success does not come easily. Because they know that there will be obstacles, realistic optimists tend to plan more, put in more effort and persist longer when they encounter a challenge or obstacle.


How can you be a realistic optimist?


When an obstacle appears on the road to your goal or you start to doubt yourself, remember times when you have been successful in the past. Remind yourself of the obstacles you have faced and how you overcame them. Think about potential obstacles that you may face and how you will deal with each obstacle. Use if/then planning. If this happens, then I will do this. Have a backup plan and be flexible with the process. If you get knocked down, get back up and keep taking action toward your goal.

In the end, the road may not be less rocky for a realistic optimist, but you will be better prepared and more likely to keep pushing toward your goals despite any obstacles that may arise along the way.

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