Friday, January 1, 2016

100% or...?

I have a black and white personality.
A 100% or nothing mentality about just about everything in life.

This can be a blessing.

For example, when I pull weeds, I get every last one.  I can't leave any weeds present.

This can also be a curse.

For example, instead of pulling weeds little by little, I will only pull weeds when I have an hour to pull all of them.  Pulling one or two here or there feels like I'm leaving the job half-done, which is not okay with me, even if it may be more efficient in the long run.

So the result is, the weeds continue to grow until I have an hour to pull them, which ends up happening very rarely.

Still, I can't deny that I feel incredibly accomplished when I finish pulling weeds for an hour, even though I can barely walk the next day.

Over the past year, I made goals.
A blog post every week.
Reading all the Harry Potter books.
Learning Spanish.
I have done a little bit of each of these goals, but not mastered any of them.  This feels frustrating to me - because I feel that my goals should be accomplished 100% or else they are worth nothing.

But is this really the case?

Truth is: I did write some blog posts.  The ones I did write were helpful for me to process whatever it was I was experiencing at the moment.
I did read 2 of the Harry Potter books, which probably benefited me in some way I just don't know yet ;-)
And I did learn SOME Spanish - Actually, a couple months ago, I met a neighbor, asked her if she could help me learn Spanish, she asked if I could help her learn English and we met 3 times before the end of the year.  While I'm not sure that any of the Spanish I practiced has stuck with me, those 3 interactions with her are honestly some of the highlights of my entire year.

So, were my goals a failure just because they weren't met to the fullest extent I had expected?

I don't think so.

So where does this leave me in making goals for this year?  Should I make unattainable goals and hope that something will result and just be happy with something more than nothing?  Should I make smaller goals so that in meeting them I will feel more accomplished simply because the goal is complete regardless of how great of a thing it was that I did?  Surely I don't depend that heavily on a sense of accomplishment, do I?

While a 100% or nothing mindset loves the completion of goals, it also hates the idea of making small goals that hardly seem worth it.  In other words, don't patronize me.

I know, I know, I can't have it both ways - having huge goals and accomplishing them always 100% fully.

Yet, a few things recently have encouraged me to consider smaller goals as a part of a larger goal.

The first is Dave Ramsey's radio show and the concept of the "debt snowball."  The big goal behind this idea is to pay off your debt.  But the strategy to doing it is by starting with your smallest debts first.  Dave Ramsey says, "This isn't about what is right mathematically.  You might think to start with your largest debt with the highest interest rate first.  And mathematically, that would save you the most money, however, this strategy is about building habits and motivation.  By starting with your smallest debt first, you grow your motivation when you pay it off, and it gives you energy to attack your next debt with even greater intensity and this is a habit and motivation that has the greatest potential to last and make a difference."

This concept has helped me with getting back into reading God's Word every day.  While my large goal might be to read the Bible more this year, a smaller subset of that goal could be to "read the bible two days in a row this week."  If I make it through those two days, I could then extend the goal to 2 more days.

This reminds me of what I used to do when I would go running.  When I got near the end of my run, I would look at an object down the road.  I would tell myself that was my goal.  Just before arriving at that location, I would set another goal using something else just a bit further down the road.

Thus, I'm not limited by my goals, and my goals are not dictating my actions so much as I am manipulating them to serve the greater perspective.

The second thing that has motivated me to consider smaller goals as a critical part of the larger one is the general idea found in Michael Horton's book, "Ordinary."  Each chapter in his book illustrates how faithfulness in the ordinary-ness of life could be the most extraordinary thing we do with our lives.  There is much more I could write on this, and I hope to in future blog posts.  Hmm, is that a goal I hear?  However, if for some reason, I don't ever get write those posts, here are some excerpts from his book in an article that Mr. Horton wrote.  I would highly recommend perusing it.

As I conclude, I can't help but think: what would a blog posts about goals be without a list of goals?  So, here is a short list of Larger Goals, with some more specifics underneath.  We'll see how this works!

Goals for 2016 (a very brief list)

1) Read through the Bible in the next year, using McCheny's Plan of reading through in 4 places at once.
- read it before getting out of bed
- set the alarm for earlier so you have time!
- use colored pencils to underline and make it colorful
- blog about it here and there to help with accountability(?) - this might be a goal of it's own...hmm...have to think about that one.

2) Invest time with neighbors
- Re-start the Spanish/English lessons with the neighbor from Peurto Rico
- Re-start the weekly walks with the neighbor from Trinidad
- Sit out front in the evenings and read or crochet - something that can easily be interrupted by the kids who play on our street
- Pray for them
- Do not let a messy house get in the way of hospitality or inviting others inside!

What are some of your goals for 2016?
What have you found to be helpful in sticking to your goals or resolutions?

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