Me to my three kids last Monday: “If we get your rooms sorted and deep cleaned this week, we’ll go to the beach on Friday!”
Me to my kids Thursday afternoon, after witnessing much hard work but still no completed rooms and noticing the kids moping, assuming they wouldn’t get to go to the beach: “If you keep working hard and do your best, we’ll go to the beach tomorrow even if it’s not finished yet.”
Kids, eyes brightening with hope: “Really?? Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Cue a much less stressed-out home for the rest of Thursday as I secretly hi-five myself.
Do you ever set goals for yourself, only to get discouraged when things shift course and your goal can’t be reached as intended? As a homeschool mom, I do this all the time. I tell myself things like:
“My youngest will memorize her addition and subtraction facts by so-and-so date.” (What if she doesn’t? Or what if she does but learns to hate math for the rest of her life?)
“My oldest will finish her writing program by the end of the semester.” (What if she does, but she’s just going through the motions, not actually learning? What if she starts to hate writing?)
The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. –Robert Burns
I think Mr. Burns was on to something.
Here’s the thing I’ve been learning lately:
Prioritize progress and learning over completion.
When we prioritize completing a specific goal, we pile on the pressure and make the journey to the end more grueling than it should be, and then feel awful if we never do actually obtain our goal.
When we prioritize progress or learning, we’re generally more motivated to embrace the journey, no matter where we ultimately end up.
For instance, ask any high schooler what they want to be when they grow up and you’ll likely hear “a millionaire.” Played out in reality, however, how likely is it? Not very. They might even work long hours at a job they hate, advancing and advancing some more, edging ever closer to their monetary goal and wasting their days away in pursuit of their goal.
Perhaps a healthier goal would be more along the lines of, “find a satisfying job, work hard, and move up in the business as often as opportunities allow until I’m financially stable.”
Do you see the difference?
Which type of goal setter are you? Do you set big, specific goals, only to be disappointed when life turns a corner and the end result isn’t what you were hoping? (And life always turns a corner, am I right?)
Or do you set the type of goals where you can feel satisfied with yourself and the journey you’ve taken, even if things veer off course from time to time?
Really it’s just a collection of moments, hours, and days that make up our lifetime. Are we spending those hours living a life we can be satisfied with, even proud of? Or are we dissatisfied as we go through our days, with our eyes so glued to the prize that we’ve forgotten to live the life that’s in front of us?
Whatever your approach to the future, I encourage you to do a little self-reflection to make sure you’re on a healthy track moving forward. Consider these quick questions:
Am I stressed all the time? If so, why?
Am I trusting God with my future or am I only trusting myself?
Will I feel like a failure if (fill in the blank) doesn’t happen?
God wants to pour his peace over us as he leads us through our days. Are we letting him?
Maybe God has given you big, divine goals. Go after them without putting your self-worth on the line.
Maybe he’s asking you to go a little easier on yourself in order to accomplish the deeds he has planned for you in the everyday (which maybe you keep missing because of your laser focus on what you’ve deemed most important).
The point is, don’t miss the forest for the trees. Take a deep breath and embrace the moment, hour, and day you’ve been given. Take off the pressure you’ve put on yourself and feel the lightness that it brings.
Being driven is a good thing, as long as your drive is submitted to God’s plan for your life. And oh, does he ever have a plan for your life. A good one. In his goodness you can rest assured.
What has been your experience? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Also, feel free to drop a suggestion for future blog post topics! Thanks for reading and have an awesome week!
6 thoughts on “The Best Laid Plans…”
Jessie, there is much excellent instruction in this post and it applies to so many situations – everybody can benefit from this! Thanks for listening to the Spirit and sharing this great wisdom. I love the Message version of Proverbs 16:9, “We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.” We often forget that we aren’t god! This fits in nicely to your statement about prioritizing learning. If we keep our eyes on God we’ll keep learning as we look to him to adjust our paths as we go. Because yes, the best laid plans DO go awry! It’s no surprise, of course, since we’re told in John 16 that in this world we WILL have troubles. We may as well do our best to roll with it as we trust – and rest – in him! Thankfully we’re not in this alone! Thanks for the post!
Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts, Beach! And I think you’re exactly right — all we can do is keep our eyes on Him and roll with it! 🙂
Excellent message, Jessie! Your cartoons cracked me up, but illustrated much truth about life. I agree, one of the most important things is to pray for the Holy Spirit’s leading in our goal setting. Sometimes God does ask us to step out in faith and do big things. Sometimes He is asking for simple obedience and consistency in the every day moments, where we accumulate growth bit by bit over time. Progress, over perfection or completion, is a great motto! It is so easy to become discouraged and throw in the towel when we haven’t met the mark. May we seek God first, then trust Him to see us through, and rest in Him, even if the going gets tough or slow.
Thank you Melissa! I really appreciate hearing your thoughts! And yes, I totally agree–when we seek God first and really trust in where he’s leading us, then we can really rest in Him no matter how things are going.
I really don’t set goals for myself. I’ve been told I should, but I don’t want to be disappointed so I just don’t. Maybe the one I have hiding in the back of my mind is to have my son on a homeschool routine by Christmas, but I’m not committed to that. It’s just a hope. I will do what I can to make it happen, but I’m not going to sweat it. I do my best, life happens, and I trust that placing it in God’s hands means it will turn out the way it is supposed to turn out. Not sure if I’m lazy or just learning to trust God better, but there you have it! LOL
I appreciate your honesty, haha!! What works for one person doesn’t always work for another person, so I say as long as you have a system that works for you (going with the flow, it sounds like!), just keep moving forward and trusting God’s lead! 🙂
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