Despite the fact that this is a fairly well known quote, I happened to see it again on the cover of a Jeep tire the other day and it got me thinking about all the goals I’m trying to accomplish and the things I feel the need to do in order to have a full, healthy physical and mental life. I often feel like sayings related to this one get thrown around- “just enjoy life”, “you never know what day will be you’re last”… the list goes on. And yes- that’s true. To an extent. But we know that so much more goes into that actually being a reality and while it sounds nice, it leads us to have an unrealistic expectation out of the every day or roll our eyes at the happy go lucky people that “obviously have no grip on reality”. We set ourselves up for failure with this expectation that every day should be sunshine and roses with an occasional thorn to deal with then go to bed saying “man, today sucked! Nothing good happened!” Or the opposite train of thought that nothing good will ever happen and so each day is gloomy and horrible.
Something that has drastically changed for me is my actual mindset towards what it means to enjoy the journey itself. To give a little context, I’m a goal person. I thrive off of having a goal I can put my nose to and knock out. But I also like seeing quick results. If I’m putting a lot of time and effort into something, I want a very efficient ROI. Even just a little bit of return so I know I’m not wasting my time, energy, and sometimes money. This is why weight loss has been so hard for me. I’d lose 10 pounds, plateau, and be like “well, I’m tired of prioritizing something that isn’t giving me results, so I’m tapping out.” (As I’ve previously mentioned, I also had many health problems affecting my inability to lose weight but my point here is my *mindset* towards dieting and the journey towards better health.) Another area that I know can be a struggle for a lot of people is in paying debt off. You want to buckle down, skip that daily fancy coffee, not eat out very much, stick to doing free activities, etc. to pay off that credit card but then reality kicks in and you go back to minimum payments and drawn out debt problems because the strapping down with slow results felt suffocating. I’d be lying if I said we weren’t in that same position our first few years of marriage. Getting back on track though… my mindset towards achieving goals has affected my parenting, homemaking, and even marriage quite a bit. I talked in a previous post about how I’ll get tunnel vision to get stuff done and I’ll block everything out until my goal is achieved even at the expense of what should be my actual priorities. When I don’t see quick results, I brush off the dirt and move on to something else. The more life goes on, the less I’ve accomplished because of my view towards the journey and long term commitments.
Then where do we start changing our mindset?
Changing my mindset on things that are “for the long haul” has felt like I’m going completely against the grain of my DNA. Like I said, I get stuff done. And quickly. That’s who I am. It’s also been my identity- “the girl that gets crap done.” Yes, there are going to be projects and challenges that I can get done efficiently and feel accomplished. I don’t have to suddenly move slower than a toddler cleaning their room. I’ll still get stuff done in an efficient manner when possible. But have you noticed that the best things in life have always taken time? No seriously, I know people hear it a lot, and it seems to be a go-to/ cliche phrase when someone is struggling to achieve something but I’d like to take a second and *really* think about it. Nothing comes quickly and easily without there first being a period of time that you’re either preparing or waiting for it. Like finding the right spouse. Some wait longer than others but regardless, finding that person you want to be with forever can be a difficult and miserable process, not to mention heartbreaking. Think about pregnancy. Babies and children, while often the most stressful and difficult things in life, are also the most amazing things. Whether you’ve had fertility struggles or not, just the long and uncomfortable process of pregnancy and bringing a child into this world all disappear and become worth it once you’re holding and cuddling your little one. While every good thing I have right now has obviously been because of God’s provision, none of it has come easily or without sacrifice, hurt, heartbreak, or waiting. The first step to changing our mindset it in acknowledging that anything worth having, is worth waiting and diligently working towards.
Our mindset shift essentially pivots on our perspective towards every day life and taking it one step at a time.
For me, that has meant realizing that healthy eating isn’t about losing weight. Losing weight would be super awesome. I’m two weeks into our revamped healthy lifestyle and I’ve increased my activity even before that. Guess what? I’ve actually gained 2 pounds and I’m in more physical pain than before. I was bedridden and pregnant and I lost 15 pounds in just a couple weeks so how is it that I’m eating better, watching my portions, way more active and actually gaining weight? That sounds incredibly discouraging doesn’t it? Maybe I should just go back to bed ridden and bulimic. Yeah it bums me out and there are a lot of things that could be factoring into this. My body is retaining water because I was previously dehydrated, my hormones are still out of whack from the miscarriage, I’m regaining my muscles which weigh more than fat… the list is endless. But instead of just focusing on those things, I’ve shifted my thinking by reminding myself “I’m not in this to lose weight, I’m in this to make my body as healthy as possible. This is a lifestyle not a goal.” My heart is now in the journey and every day deliberate decisions, not the potential outcome of weight loss. I’m not so focused on that goal that I get easily derailed and discouraged. I changed my goal and got to the root of why I am actually eating healthy right now.
I think another major thing we have to do to shift our mindset is reassess the goal and find the root cause of it. My end goal with my health is to feel good on a routine basis and for my body to normalize. When it comes to paying off debt, it’s ultimately to create a more secure future for our family and enable us financial freedom to help others. As far as raising Emmy, apart from the obvious “make sure she’s properly educated, loves Jesus, and is prepared for adulthood”, my ultimate goal is to have built a strong relationship with her. Focusing on spending quality time together now while she’s little and letting her actually see my commitment and the time put into her will have a much bigger impact on her life than me obsessing over constant projects and perfection or not taking the time to slow down and include her in the process. Once again, I’ve observed and learned from those who have preceded me and while I know more learning opportunities are coming, I have to go into each scenario with the right mindset in order to be successful.
Life is about the journey and not just reaching the destination (accomplishing goals). In order to enjoy the journey and for it to actually count, our mindset *has* to be not just on accomplishing the small goals, but ultimately focusing on the big picture and that is this: Each day you are working towards something that will have a long lasting effect on your life and the life of people you love. Your view towards your self worth will affect it. Your mindset towards the value and purpose of your children will affect it. How you view your spouse and friendships will affect it. It’s up to you to stay focused on having the right perspective and make each decision very deliberately. It’s daunting and hard and a long trek. But it is ultimately what’s necessary to enjoy the journey.
Here’s to us all figuring out our motivation and staying focused on our “why”.