This morning, for my mom blog, I wrote a post about accepting where you are, and not berating yourself for not reaching goals.
I thought it was a message we speakers needed to hear, too.
Guess what? It’s not going to happen. For years I was trying to twist myself into a pretzel to try to shortcut my way to that goal, so that when my 41st birthday hit I would have done it. But no matter what I do at this point I won’t have time to meet that goal. It’s fallen by the wayside.
I’ve realized that the issue isn’t whether or not I meet the goal; the issue is whether or not I am at peace about not meeting that goal.
We women just don’t tend to like ourselves. We can see all our shortcomings, and we feel as if we should be pushing ourselves, beating ourselves, forcing ourselves to change and be different. Our ministries should have grown more by now. We should have more bookings. I promised myself if I started speaking I wouldn’t be a drain on the family, and I should have arrived further by now.
Or perhaps the issues are more personal: We shouldn’t be this heavy; we should exercise more, lose weight, eat less. We shouldn’t be this shy; we should have more friends, more social engagements, more people over to dinner.
I find so often that when we set up goals for ourselves, we just end up paralyzed, unable to move forward, because we feel overwhelmed and guilty. I know goal setting can be important, and some goals are worthy. But not all goals are.
Let’s go back to my professional goal that I had for myself at 40. I wanted to have created several entrepreneurial enterprises which would have brought in a certain dollar figure in income. Do you know why I won’t meet that goal? It’s because since I made that goal, my life has changed. I decided to homeschool my children. I decided to work with the youth of our church. I decided to do more at home to support my husband’s career, because our life was becoming too busy. I made decisions that were smart for my family, but those decisions made that goal pretty much impossible to attain. Usually the reason that we haven’t met a goal in our lives is not because we’re lazy and undisciplined; often it’s because we have used our time to do something else. We have decided that something else is momentarily more important than that goal.
You may feel called to speaking, but if you haven’t built a huge website yet, if you haven’t created that video, if you haven’t built a huge following on Facebook, does that mean that you have somehow failed? Does it mean that you weren’t serious about your goal?
I spent three years feeling guilty about not starting a blog. I knew I had to blog; I knew I had to build my platform on the internet, but I didn’t do it, and no amount of feeling guilty about it made me do it. When I finally launched it, I realized why it was smart that I had waited. It takes a lot of time to blog consistently and to write interesting posts. And during those three years I had other things to do. I was homeschooling my kids. I was trying to juggle making good meals with all the time I needed to spend with them and still write my column and write magazine articles.
Was my goal good? Sure. But there were other things that were more important, and I do not have a limitless amount of time. When my children stopped taking as much time to homeschool, because they could do more on their own, I suddenly had time to blog.
Here’s the truth: we cannot do everything. We cannot grow our online presence, and generate tons of speaking engagements, and keep our part-time job, and maintain the perfect body, and maintain a perfect home, and spend tons of time with the kids, and have romantic getaways with our husbands, and create small businesses to make income for our families. We just can’t. Why not instead talk to God about what is good enough in each of those areas of your life? And then accept the good enough; don’t keep feeling badly that you’re not doing more.
Of course, many of us aren’t getting important things done because we waste time. We spend too much time in front of the TV, or the computer, or on the phone. If that’s the case, then maybe you need to re-evaluate. You certainly don’t want television to keep you from attaining an important goal in your family. But many of us don’t have that many hours, even if we wanted to find them. They’re already being used. And we still, after all, do need downtime.
I think we are completely unrealistic about what is possible for us to accomplish in this life. Everything comes with a price, and if you’re not willing to pay the price, then that’s okay. But don’t just say, “I don’t have time to do this,” and then continue to feel guilty. Say, “I don’t have time to reach this goal,” and then accept it. Accept who you are right now, even with your limitations, because you are doing the best you can. And your best is always good enough.
Isn’t that what we tell our children? We don’t care what they get on the test, as long as they tried their best. If they get a 95% but they didn’t try, we’d be unhappy. But if they got a 65% and that genuinely was their best, then that’s okay. We’d get them some more help, but we wouldn’t be angry.
So why be angry at ourselves? If we’re doing our best, and we’re talking to God about how to prioritize our lives, and we’re talking to our husbands about our lives, then let’s give ourselves a break. We’re doing what we can do, and in this season of our life, this is the best we can offer. Don’t compare yourself to someone with more time, more money, or more energy, because that is not how God made you. Just be the best of who you were made to be, and whatever that is, that is okay. And God will bless you and open doors when you are being responsible in all areas of your life. Do what you can, and God will bless your efforts, even if they’re meager. When you’re in a position to make more effort, your ministry may grow more.
But if you’re not in that position now, don’t feel badly about it. Do what you can, and that is enough. The rest is up to God.
Wouldn’t that feel so much better?
If you want to keep talking about these sorts of issues, do join our Facebook group!