So many of us are on timelines: married by this age, own a house by that age, have kids by this age--or else. My question is, or else what? For me, the key to setting goals is to give myself plenty of time to do it. | Veronica Chambers, The Joy of Doing Things Badly
On my "momcation" I stumbled into a great book to read on the trip that gave me peace about some goals I've had all my life. I enjoyed The Joy of Doing Things Badly for several reasons, but top of the list is the chapter Veronica Chambers started with writing about Tink Bolster, a now 83-year-old triathlete.
Veronica writes about her own desire to compete in a triathlon and the people that are impressed... until they find out she can't swim. Her goal used to be to complete the Kona Half Ironman for her 40th birthday. Then, she was inspired by Tink Bolster still competing at age 74, and decided she had even more time than she thought to complete her goals.
That quote above was the game-changer for me. It rings so true for me and after reading this, I knew what I needed to give up. I have done the timeline my entire life, giving arbitrary ages to goals that aren't dependent on age.
I loved writing even as a kid. When I was around 9-years-old I saw a 12-year-old on a talk show talking about the book she just wrote. I told myself I could (and would) do that. I would be the child prodigy with a book published before my teens. A few years passed, of course writing all the while but never writing a book.
The cycle hasn't stopped. Anytime I hear about someone near my age or younger that published a book, I get a twinge of jealousy. Then, I start thinking about how to make it happen, and make it happen now. Then life happens, and no book.
I've obviously missed the point. There is no "or else" when I set ridiculous age limitations on when certain things "must" be done in my life.
When I set goals to accomplish everything while I'm young:
a. I am more likely glory-seeking rather than living my life to give God the glory;
b. I forget that I have an entire life to live, not just my childhood or teens or twenties (etc.); and
c. I set myself up for failure.
That leads me to...
3 Reasons to Rethink the Time Limits I Put on My Goals
Of course, I'm not going to quit setting goals. And I'll likely even choose a top couple goals that are time sensitive to focus on currently. But following are my reminders to rethink the idea that every worthwhile goal has be done now.
1. When things are done in God's time, He gets all the glory.My goal to write a book before my teens, or before I graduated high school, or while in my twenties, had little to do with being used by God, and had almost everything to do with looking for approval or admiration from others.So what if I don't write a book until I'm in my fifties? Whenever it happens, I pray it will be an opportunity for God's light to shine through me and give all the glory to Him.
2. The goals I am not able to reach now, I might be able to reach when I am in my thirties or forties or even in my seventies or eighties.I used to want to run in a half marathon. I gave that up when I became pregnant and traded my jogging routine in for walking and yoga. Just because it doesn't fit into my life right now, doesn't mean it has to be taken off my goals list. Maybe I won't do it for another five, ten or twenty years, but that won't make it any less of a joyful achievement. I have a lifetime of new adventures and beginner experiences and training ahead of me. Why try to cram it all in now? I'll need something to work on when I retire.
3. Being flexible with my goals gives me room to accomplish them.Trying to fit everything I hope of doing into a tight timeline is simply unrealistic. I can't be a great mom, write a book, do side jobs, run everyday, take photography classes, do yoga, train for a competition, get deeper into God's Word than I've ever been, and learn Spanish--all this year. But I can pursue some of those things, choose one or two to be serious about now, and look forward to working on the rest sometime in the future when my life is in the right season for it.
Right now, I'm first and foremost a wife, a mom and a child of God. Everything else is part-time or a hobby on the side. In some ways, I'm failing at everything else. One day, my kids will be more independent and I'll succeed in something other than being a mom. Today is not that day. And that's okay. There's still plenty of time.
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