The US Presidential Election was one of a kind. I’ve seen plenty of interesting blog posts about what this means for families and particularly how to explain the new President to children. I’ve written about this in another post and won’t go over old ground. What I want to talk about is a silly goal I set for myself 8 years ago, why I’ve failed at it, and what I would do differently in future. 

In 2008 I set a goal to perform in front of President Obama by the end of his Presidency. 

The plan was simple. I was living in London and fancied myself as a bit of a singer-songwriter. I was starting to do gigs, and I thought it might be possible to get to perform in front of the President in less than 100 gigs. 

This was a silly goal and by 2016 I am no closer to it than I was in 2008. 

Why did I fail and what would I do differently?

1. First of all, I didn’t set a ROADMAP to achieving that goal. We hear all the time about the importance of setting goals but unless we have a plan to achieve them we’ve no hope of even remotely getting near it. How many times have we committed to join the gym at the start of the year but then our enthusiasm fizzles out by the time we’re on month two. 

2. I didn’t set WAYPOINTS along the way. I should have set mini-goals that were incrementally achievable towards the overall goal. 

3. I didn’t have COMMITMENT. As much as I liked the idea of doing music, I was probably more of a songwriter than performer. I didn’t really enjoy promoting myself or singing as much as I should have done. Ed Sheeran went to London and played hundreds of gigs until he became successful. I didn’t have that same hunger. So perhaps it wasn’t right for me. 

How does all this relate to the Millennial Dad? 

As a parent with a million different priorities we have to set goals we want to achieve for ourselves. It may be to be mortgage free by a certain date, to go on a once-in-a-lifetime family holiday, or switch professions. All of these things are infinitely harder to do with children, because we have little people who depend on us. So in order to be realistic and achieve our goals as parents we need to take them seriously, create a path to success, and be accountable to one another for getting there. 

So I failed at getting to meet President Obama and the jury’s still out on whether I want to meet President Trump. But I learned a lot about how to achieve the more important things required in being a dad. 

You hear a few tracks of my music here.

Do you remember when you were young and thought the best job in the world might be President or Prime Minister? There was always something impressive about “running the country”. I was taught to look up to our country’s leaders.

I’m following the state of politics in the US and the UK right now and I’m pretty appalled. 

How can I teach my daughter to look up to people who shout, threaten, and some case physically attack each other? Of course, you can say it’s always been like this. As a boy I didn’t know about the miners’ strikes in the UK, the end of the Cold War, the poll tax riots, or the backstabbing of fellow politicians. When I was young I looked up to politicians, the police, teachers. But they’re just people like anyone else; I know now that I can’t expect them to be perfect. Politicians are just the same. Quite frankly, if I came across anyone behaving too perfectly, I would be suspicious. 

The big thing I’m trying to reconcile right now, as a parent, is how can I encourage my daughter to look up role models in politics, knowing that I have so little respect for some of these people. 

When someone like Donald Trump can be in the top two candidates for the most powerful job on Earth. It shouldn’t come down to this. When the UK referendum hinges on the argument about how many migrants we let in, and then when I see a picture of a two year old drowned on a beach in Italy.

There have always been people abusing the system. I’m sure it’s always been like this. Hasn’t it?

Politics is just one area where I struggle as a millennial dad. We’re more connected than ever before and bad news is all around us. I need to show my daughter examples of people to look up to but the older (and more cynical) I become the harder I find it. 

No one is perfect. Me included. And that’s a lesson that every child needs to learn at some point. I just hope I can point my daughter to people with good qualities and they will inspire her. I have no stake in the upcoming US elections, but the shockwaves of whoever wins will reverberate around the world. While both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have made mistakes, I hope the one who is willing to learn from them the most will win on November 8. 

Sorry if it’s a little too early to do politics on my new blog. I haven’t quite worked out the etiquette yet!