A couple of weeks ago I went for my six-month dental checkup. My regular hygienist, Pam, was doing the cleaning. When I had a chance I said, “my goal is for you to only need to spend four minutes working on my teeth, the next time I come in”. Pam’s light-hearted response was, “maybe you should shoot for a more attainable goal”. She was right. I don’t mind going to the dentist twice a year, and I do like going in for cleanings, but to think she would be able to be done in four minutes was a bit unrealistic.
Attainable goals…Sadly, many (if not most) of us set goals that may not only be unobtainable, but are often next to impossible.
Sometimes great just happens. Maybe you find an immediate solution to a problem, or you come up with a concept that simply “came to you”, or you go to the gym after a long absence and you’re back in shape in two weeks (this, I can assure you, would NOT happen to me). Usually, however, it takes a long time to do something important; great things don’t typically “just happen”.
We live in an “instant gratification world” where we believe that as soon as we want something we should have it. WE’RE moving SO fast, that we believe everything should happen that way.
We’re impatient with the “now” because we believe the “next” will be better. We’re so busy imagining the “then”- where we’ve accomplished our goals and we’re finally “happy”- that we overrate the importance of the future and underrate the importance of the present.
We’re told all the time to aim higher, own more, live more, be more, so naturally we set goals that are ambitious and seek “more”.
We spend so much time wishing for another reality that we lose sight of the preciousness of each and every step we take; each and every conversation we have. We may ultimately build the empire we desired for so long, but end up with a feeling of emptiness and loneliness.
We say that the people who achieve their goals have succeeded and those who don’t have failed.
When we fail to achieve an unobtainable goal we usually don’t say, “wow, that was a stretch, I think I’ll be more realistic next time.” What typically happens is that we feel like a failure, like we just weren’t strong enough, smart enough, hard-working enough, dependable enough, or committed enough. We’re really hard on ourselves.What about everything that’s learned along the journey? What about the stumbling blocks that made us more resilient or kind or honest? What about the PROCESS of living while aiming for that goal? What about the people we’ve met and the lives we’ve changed?
Don’t get me wrong, I think goals are important and add practicality and order to our lives. Something as simple as writing them down helps to keep us focused. I’m also a big believer in “putting out to the universe” what you’d like your life to look like. Thoughts become words, and words become action, but you still have responsibility for the action necessary to achieve those goals. Dreaming big or “shooting for the stars” is wonderful as long we don’t do a haphazard job of living today because we believe we NEED to get to the finish line.
“What has this got to do with Rome?” you might be asking.
You’ve probably heard the expression that “Rome wasn’t built in a day” (in 1538, the English playwright John Heywood used that proverb- originally found in a work by Adolf Tober- which is how it got handed down to us).
My daughter Erin took me on vacation to Italy. Our first stop was Rome. Obviously the art and architecture are amazing. Obviously none of that happened in one day. Those famous buildings took creativity, calculation, and TIME. None of what we saw and admired could have happened with unobtainable goals. These artists and sculptors and builders had the foresight to imagine a reality that would take a very long time to create. The creation was more important than the urgency.
We’re heading into a time of the year that many of us (myself included) often set unattainable goals.
We’re going to have the perfect holiday dinners,
with the perfectly decorated home,
with prefect gifts for EVERYONE,
dressed in the perfect outfit each time,
while we attend every event we’re invited to.
Whew! We think we can do it all and do it all well. We over-plan, over-shop, over-spend, over-commit, over-think, over-do and often, simply end up over-whelmed.
Maybe we can set some attainable goals for the remainder of 2014 like:
smiling at someone every day- this is a tough time of year for so many
giving ourselves a break
knowing that quality is almost always better than quantity
celebrating each day’s little joys
laughing (as much as possible)
honoring the value of spending time with those we love
being in the moment
creating a home full of peace
remembering what’s really important and saying, “Thank You God”
I may never go to a dentist appointment and be in and out in four minutes, but I CAN aim for the end of this year being filled with laughter, love, special moments, peace and joy.
Goals yes, but let’s try to make them attainable.
©2014 Peace Full Home