I have a large white board hanging on the wall next to my office desk where I keep a weekly to-do list. Quite often, the word, “housework” appears in the line-up.
There’s a huge problem with that. The housework reminder stays on my white board for days on end. Come evening, I’ll think with defeat, “I didn’t allow time to clean the house.” Emptying waste baskets and washing dishes doesn’t count because I didn’t intentionally set aside time to Clean The House. Next day, I put on my sweats, gather my supplies, and head for the bathroom. Each job completed reveals another job to be done.
- I really should scrub the tub and launder the shower lining.
- Where’s my Windex?
- I’m out of bleach.
- When was the last time I cleaned the light bulbs over the vanity?
Once the bathroom is cleaned, I steer the vacuum toward the living room. I should:
- Move furniture.
- Use the wand to clean out dog hair underneath the cushions.
- Can anyone else see cobwebs above the door?
I look at the clock. Two hours have already passed. What happened to my morning? There is so much more to do! I didn’t get all the housework done, so the ominous word remains on my white board and I feel perpetually defeated.
You are probably leagues ahead of me.
Break it down, woman!
That is exactly what I’ve learned to do.
We all know that, in order to accomplish big goals, we have to break them down into little goals. If we obsess over the big goals, we feel chronic defeat and despair.
It happens with:
- Writing a novel
We can’t do any of these in one day. Okay, well, yes, when I was thirty, I could clean the house, cook three meals, process five loads of laundry, care for two babies, and crab at my husband because I was so tired. But not anymore! And I certainly can’t write a novel in one day. Not even one week.
Common sense tells me to break tasks into smaller goals. We do it all the time. I’ve learned to write manageable goals on my white board such as
- Clean the bathroom mirror
- Research the holiday of Lent
- Take the dog for a ten minute walk
The more specific, the better.
Bottom line, it only goes on the white board if I can accomplish it in one day.
Breaking tasks into manageable chunks makes sense in tangible tasks. What about our spiritual life? Think of the unreasonable goals we often set for ourselves.
- Be more patient
- Be more loving
- Support world missions.
- Be a witness for Christ
- Be more like Jesus
We wonder if we’re making any progress in our pursuit of spiritual disciplines We’re tempted to think we’re an inferior Christian because we see there is so much more to do. The more I grow as a Christian, the more I realize how far I have to go.
Big goals are important. They give us a destination. Yet, like housework, exercise, and novel writing, we have to break each goal down in order to reach itl. Otherwise, no matter how hard I try, I’ll always feel like I could have done more.
Here’s how you can reach your spiritual goals:
- Chart your course. Devise strategies of how you intend to reach the goal.
- Set daily goals
- Identify obstacles keeping you from reaching your goal and do what you can to remove them.
- Take the next step.
- Ask for help.
- Team up with others to keep you accountable and work with you. Work done together is always more fun
- Celebrate progress
Come to think of it, these strategies will probably work for housework or novel writing. Anyone want to help me vacuum?