I hope that you never fully understand the extent of the disorganization that ensues when there simply isn't enough space to fit all of the things used and owned by seven people and various pets. To clean the house was one thing, but to make it show-worthy was another. Our home was a mess, and the task of organizing, boxing, cleaning, and shining the interior was overwhelming. Each room was at capacity. I wasn't too long into the task before I doubted it could be done. I realized that I flitted from room to room, doing a little bit here, then a little bit there. Nothing seemed to show, and new clutter accumulated. Someone called it shoveling in a snowstorm. It was.
This story is not about cleaning. It's about accomplishing a BIG project. I had a big project, and I realized that each section of my project was a project in itself. I understood that if I broke the house down into smaller areas, I could at least accomplish something each time I finished cleaning one room. But I needed to stick to the little project until it was done. And there was no time to dilly-dally. I needed to take a block of time; in this case, it was a day or two, and I had to finish that smaller project in that time frame. Or this could take a lot more time than I had.
I actually separated my home into 18 zones. My bedroom was one, and the kitchen in general was another. Kitchen cupboards were another. The laundry room was a big one. I worked on that zone toward the end and placed clothing and linens without designation in there, knowing that I would deal with all of that as one zone. And it worked!
Having learned how to eat an elephant (one bite at a time), I understood how important it is to passionately focus on goals. For the house cleaning, I broke the project into many little goals, gave myself a time limit to accomplish each one, and went to it. Since then, I have applied this simple principle to other big tasks in my life. I earned a Doctorate by taking one class at a time, and when a class began, I dove in. The classes were self-paced, and I was very calculated, yet realistic with deadlines. And when I let too much time pass between classes, my conscience kicked in and told me to get back in the race. I also applied this principal to obtaining my Chaplaincy and walking 1,200 miles in two and a half years.
I have learned things that have helped. First, I take the Sabbath seriously. This aggressive approach to goal-achieving ironically requires pacing yourself. Rest and worship are key to keeping going. Second, I only take on projects that I believe the Lord has assigned to me. He gives me grace and motivates me to earn the prize at the finish line. Third, if I fall, I get up. Friends cheer and family members encourage. God even sometimes gives me dreams to tell me to keep going. The more time that passes between tackling goals, the less likely I know it is that I will get back on track. Many, many things are left undone in God’s Kingdom because people get off track.
Fourth, I enlist prayer support. This is vital. Important things need prayer. Fifth, my family has learned to respect my need for focus when I am pressing in to accomplish something. They know Mom is otherwise engaged. They are supportive. This has been a blessing and has been key. Sixth, God needs to be consulted for your strategy and timeframe. This is before you begin and at each milestone along the way. He knows the best way and the Holy Spirit will guide.
Seventh and lastly, reward yourself when you accomplish each task, and then with something really special when your big goal is met. I always have fun with this component of the process. In fact, my last big accomplishment got me a few days to visit my friend Amy, who had recently moved to Florida. It was a win-win situation in every way.
To Accomplish Goals
- Honor the Sabbath with rest and worship, pacing yourself.
- Only take on projects that The Lord has directed and blessed.
- Get back on track if you lose your focus.
- Enlist prayer support.
- Enlist family support and encouragement.
- Consult God for your strategy and timeframe.
- Reward yourself for each met goal, and again when your task is complete.
I say with complete sincerity that there are things you think you can’t do that you can do. Even mothers of large families need not put aside dreams. I'm so grateful that my family does not resent my 1,200 miles of prayer walking, or my earned titles. They are proud of me and that makes me smile.
The words “I always wanted to…” may receive God’s blessing. You may want to ask Him about that. Some things may have to go by the wayside. TV programs and movies may be enjoyable, but they are time stealers and can be forgone for bigger purposes for entire seasons, if needed. Or at least for the tenure of a good accomplishment. God bless your endeavors. He is your biggest fan, and you truly can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). You may, however, need to be very strategic about it!