I remember it hitting me sometime in high school…this all or nothing mentality. This drive to do things perfectly or do nothing at all.
And for years I tortured myself with mistakes and let downs, with unfinished todo lists and failed goals. So sometimes, I set the goal or made the list but then never really tried. Because I knew that whether I really tried or sort of tried, I would fail either way.
And eventually, I got rid of lists and plans and goals…and even dreams. As if the goal or the checklist was causing me to fail. But even without the lists, I still managed to fail.
Slowly, painfully I’ve been learning that the lists are good and helpful and energizing; it’s my attitude that destroys the good and helpful they bring.
Because things are never the problem.
Dreams and plans and goals are never the problem.
It’s our hearts that are the problem.
And my heart is prideful.
My heart tells my mind…
That I can accomplish 21 things in 5 hours…
That I can put on make up, do my hair, and be out the door in 7 minutes flat…
That I can bake those brownies in 25 minutes when the baking time is 22 minutes…
That I can have an intimate evening with my husband with putting in approximately 3 minutes of mental preparation all day…
That I can have a sweet, life-giving time with Jesus while texting friends and sticking to a strict 30 minute time limit…
My heart tells me I’m superwoman.
And all to often I listen to my heart and make plans thinking wishful thoughts that are nowhere near reality. And sisters, after too many “you said you’d be ready” arguments and barely started to do lists and rushed meetings with Jesus, I’m finally ready to admit…
Wishful planning doesn’t work!
Because that’s exactly what it is…wishful. Wishing isn’t reality, and it never will be. And my reality will never be peaceful, until I’m wiling to live and learn and grow within the restraints of time and talents God has given me.
So how do you plan practically? How do you put flesh and bones on this idea of living within the constraints God has given?
Recognize the areas you struggle.
Be honest with yourself even if it means admitting that your spouse or your roommate or even your mother is right. Because pride is ugly. And wishful planning is just that…pride.
Start with what matters most.
Not the most urgent or the most fun, but with what really, truly at the heart of it is the most important.
Your walk with God.
Respecting your spouse.
Serving your family.
Representing Jesus to your workplace.
Give those things the space and time and flexibility they need…maybe even a little extra at first.
Look at your watch constantly for a few days.
Experiment with time limits and requirements.
Watch and learn from yourself. Your husband may be able to eat breakfast in five minutes, but if it takes you ten then plan that time in.
Resist the urge to listen to your heart when it says, “I know this isn’t in the plan, but you’re doing great! You can squeeze in one more thing.”
Watch your mind and carefully evaluate what types of thoughts and actions lead to failure.
Ask someone else to keep you accountable, to remind you of the clock, to check up on you, to call you out when they see your heart becoming frantic.
In this process, I’ve done a lot of letting go.
I’ve picked and chosen things to let go of at different times in order to grow in this area.
And it’s good to simplify. And it’s not for always.
Because as I’ve let go and said no and placed myself inside more reasonable time constraints, I’ve learn that my capacity has grown. I’ve become more efficient. Eventually, slowly, with much trial and error, I’ve been able to add things back in, to fine tune my timing.
And in it all…I’m learning to be humble.
It hurts, but it’s oh so worth it. Because realistic, humble planning brings freedom to your time, your mind, and your schedule.