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Doing Something is Always Better Than Doing Nothing

It’s so easy when you start considering goal-setting to become overwhelmed by all the areas in your life you feel are in desperate need of change.

From improving as a wife and mom, to starting a business or blog, to writing a book, to learning a new skill, to starting a new ministry or being involved in one that’s already existing, to eating more healthfully, to learning to cook from scratch, to cutting your grocery bill, to experimenting with do-it-yourself ideas, to remodeling part of the house or redecorating a room, to getting in shape, to being more involved in your church or community… and on and on the list goes.

We women have so many responsibilities on our plates and we have dreams, ideas, and all sorts of things we’d love to do if we could ever find an extra ten hours in our day. But the reality is that those extra ten hours probably aren’t going to be falling from the sky any time in the near future. So we must work with what we have–and do the best we can with that.

Recognize Your Limitations.

We’re all in different seasons and stages of life. We all have different challenges and struggles. Therefore, it’s imperative that each of us recognizes our own limitations.

Think about your own unique challenges. Some of you are in school full-time. Some of you work full-time. Some of you have lots of little children. Some of you have a brand-new baby (or twins!). Some of you have health issues. Some of you are caring for elderly parents or grandparents. Some of you are in the middle of moving cross country. Some of you are dealing with a death of someone you love. Some of you are pregnant or in the middle of adopting. Some of you have children with special needs. Some of you are going through heart-breaking circumstances that many of us can’t even begin to imagine.

No matter your age or stage of life, you have your own set of difficulties and things to juggle. If it’s not something you can change, accept it realizing that what you’re able to accomplish will not be what someone else who is in a different season of life is able to accomplish. And that’s perfectly okay!

Focus on What Matters Most

If you only have a small amount of time to devote to goal-setting, you’ll want to maximize upon it by making sure you’re focusing on the most important things. Here’s what I’d suggest doing:

  • Jot Down Ideas. Over the course of the next 3-5 days, just start jotting down every goal idea that pops into your head that you’d really like to tackle soon. If you’re anything like me, your list will probably be long. Don’t be overwhelmed! You’re just brainstorming to help you narrow down and prioritize your goals list.
  • Prioritize Your List. After you have a nice long list, go over it carefully and thoughtfully considering which items on the list are really going to make a specific and near-immediate impact upon your everyday life. Learning to make woven baskets might be fun goal to pursue at some time, but it probably isn’t going to have a direct impact upon your everyday life like exercising, going to bed early, or menu-planning will.
  • Pare Down Your List. After you’ve prioritized the list, pare that list down to the top two or three. If this is a struggle for you, step back and try to think of how each goal will directly affect your life. Thinking things through to the direct effects over the course of the next few months usually is all it takes for me to prioritize and decide upon the most important priorities. However, if you’re struggling with this exercise, I’d suggest asking your husband or a good friend to help you.
  • Make a Specific Plan. Once you have this list of 2-3, think how you will fit these goals into your everyday life. You have to make a specific plan for how it will happen, or it likely will just be a good idea that never gets off the ground. If you want to read 12 books this year, you need to read 1/4 of a book each week–or about 5-10 pages per day, depending upon how long the books are that you read.
  • Be Realistic! It’s imperative that you think long and hard about what you can realistically commit to. You’re better off sticking with one goal that only takes 15 minutes a week and actually following through with it, than trying to do five goals you don’t have time for and then not following through at all.

Commit to Do What You Can Do.

No matter your limitations, adopt Teddy Roosevelt’s motto: “Do what you can with what you’ve got where you are.”

All we can do is all we can do. Spending time wishing we were in someone else’s shoes doesn’t change or improve our situation. If you’re in a really busy season of life, you may only be able to devote an extra 10 minutes five times per week to tackling your goals. Don’t be discouraged.

Do what you can do and don’t worry about what you can’t do! Doing something is always better than doing nothing.

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30 Comments

  • Ahhh Mom says:

    I have always loved that quote!

  • So true!! I am feeling pressured right now about school work with the kids. I keep going to bed at night feeling so overwhelmed and behind. So this morning, I decided to just start where we are.
    Did we accomplish everything we should have today? No. But we did accomplish SOME things!! I just keep saying, “Keep going. Just keep going.”

  • So very true. Even if things don’t quite work out the way I hope they will, I always feel better when I’m working towards something and growing rather then just hoping things were different.

  • Debbie says:

    Every day you have a little (or big) nugget of wisdom and encouragement for us and for that I am truly grateful! Just wanted to let you know I have always wanted to memorize an entire book of the Bible and I’ve tried twice before but didn’t get past the first chapter either time. I decided to tackle memorizing Colossians when you posted the link a couple of weeks ago and I’m keeping up!! Its so amazing how little bits at a time can still get us to our goal!! Thanks for the inspiration!!

  • Shelisa says:

    “All we can do is all we can do” ….I love that. You know how when you are at church and you feel like the pastor is talking just to you? I felt that way with this post. Thank you for sharing!

  • Shelli says:

    It almost feels like God directed to me your site tonight. I have been struggling with this very thing lately. Thank you. Couldnt have come at a better time. I have a child with special needs and just started working. This has been heart breaking for me. It feels like im missing out on alot with my children. Watching everyone post all the fun things they have been doing, projects they’ve been working on….and I struggle to fit enough time in the day to cook dinner and spend as much time as I can with my children. I have to accept this and use my time very wisely, instead of focusing on the bad. Thank you!!!!!!!!!

  • Amy says:

    Best Post Ever! You honestly do not know how much I needed to read this tonight. I have been so discouraged today, feeling like I am going nowhere, and like I will never accomplish anything due to my circumstances. This has helped me so much, and that last section under “committ to do what you can do” is golden. Thank you!

    • Ginny says:

      I could have written that exact comment. I am setting two small goals for this year, things that I can work at a little at a time. But if I don’t meet them, it’s ok, I’m not going to beat myself up over them because fulfilling my obligations to my family are much more important.

  • Sharon says:

    Thank you for your thoughtfulness regarding setting goals. These days I’ve seen people use the “one-word” approach in setting the tone for the new year. Mine is “some effort.” It sounds defeatist, but it is actually working well for me!

  • Melissa Nassraway says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I broke my foot at the end of October and I am still healing and recovering. I have to remind myself everyday that I am doing exactly what I should be doing and that is mostly rest. I have not made goals for my year yet because my current focus is healing. I try to push myself every couple of days so I can be stronger and heal. But most days I don’t do much, and that is okay right now. Thanks for your encouragement!

  • CrackMba says:

    Great motivational post… We always use the same words but most of us do not actually the proper meaning of the phrase….

    Life is very short and we should not waste the same by doing just NOTHING!!!!

  • Karen says:

    Actually I am reading the book “The Joy Diet” by Martha Beck and she proclaims the opposite; to do “nothing”. I know it sounds crazy (I thought so) but she believes that by carving out at least 15 min a day to do nothing but meditate or “be” can center you and put your tasks into perspective. I just thought it was interesting to have read that last night and then your post this morning. Gives me food for thought. Thanks.

    • Amara says:

      Karen,
      I think that making a HABIT of carving out time to be fallow CAN be a goal for many women! So, “doing something” to bring yourself rest and to allow your soul to breathe CAN BE making a time each day to “do nothing.” I am the daughter of a mom who works at break-neck speed, and I think I had the assumption that women pursuing excellence never, ever stop. Slowly, as our family grew to include four children, homeschooling responsibilities, and other obligations, I found I was never, ever sitting down (with the exception of crashing into bed). I have actually prioritized one hour at the end of each day where I’ll read (a treat for me), sit DOWN with my husband to chat, or just daydream…GUILT FREE. 🙂 God designed us to enjoy many things, including rest. I’m actually checking this “fallow time” off my TO-DO list each day. I’m a happier, gentler mom, and a more attuned wife– as a result of STOPPING. Good for you for chasing joy!

  • Trixie says:

    I am so much of an all or nothing person. And usually this means if I can’t achieve all of my lofty plans then I feel like a failure. But this year I’ve been focusing on feeling good about what I have been able to accomplish instead of worrying about not accomplishing every last thing.

    One of my plans this year is to add formal exercise at a fitness center to my exercise routine. Initially I committed to getting myself inside the building 4x a week with a plan of doing 30 minutes each time. But I told myself even if I could only commit 10 or 20 minutes my goal was to get myself in there. At least it was something!

    This week marked 1 month and I’ve been there 11 times so far for at least 30 minutes each time, usually it’s more like 45 minutes. Even though I didn’t meet the 4x per week goal I still feel like a success, and turns out it’s something I really enjoy (that I NEVER thought I would) so I will keep it up, just because I LIKE it, not because I feel like I HAVE to.

  • Stephanie says:

    This was great, thank you. It seems so many people say “it is a season of life” you can make goals or do other things later. I have been in this season of young children for 8 years and hopefully will be much longer, but I still want to grow and improve. So far this year, I have decided to read my Bible every day. I have done really well (missed only a few days). I love the idea of writing a list of all the possible goals. I think that is my problem– I have so many ideas going in my head that I need to stop, write them all done and go from there to actually pick something to accomplish.

  • SugarFreeMom says:

    SO appreciate you! I NEED to start paring down THE LIST! I will do what I can with where I am, thank you!

  • Lisa says:

    Crystal-

    I love how you can put ideas into words. These are the steps I follow, but I never realized it! It takes me so long to Recognize my limitations!

    I so want to somehow make those 10 extra hours appear in my day.

    Maybe it’s my age showing, but I am realizing that I either recognize your limitations, or sacrifice my family to get those 10 hours.

    I am really trying to prioritize my FAMILY over my GOALS.

    🙂
    Lisa

  • This was a very encouraging post. I really needed to read this because my mind seems to be going a million miles per second lately with various goal ideas.

  • Kayla H says:

    Thank you so much! This is exactly what I needed to hear today. This is coming from someone who has a toddler, is pregant, is in school full-time online (last semester, yay!) and is in the middle of remodling her entire house. Overwhelmed, yes! But hopefully I can pair down the “list” and get something accomplished. Being overwhelmed with the amount of “stuff” on the list makes me not even start, maybe I just need to shrink the list.

    • Lisa says:

      I too get overwhelmed with the amount of “stuff” on my list and then do nothing! Focusing on one thing at a time has never been my strong suit, but with baby #1 on the way, now is a good time to learn how.

  • Jenni says:

    This has been the principle that has been getting me forward this month in organizing. Doing “what you can” sounds like settling to some, but really, I think people underestimate it’s power. It puts you in the present moment, the only place where change can really happen. Another thought that has helped me is to not necessarily look at the big hairy audacious goals (though those are important) but rather the little fuzzy assertive ones :). They eventually grow up to be BHAGs in the end.

  • Kelli says:

    Great post!! Loved it.

  • Charity says:

    Big tears! I left comments on the last post saying that I can’t find a spare second having four littles 5yrs and under. This post is SO encouraging to me. Since moving across the state a little over a year ago, having no friends, no family that talks to us, still haven’t found a church, my husband works very long hours and this week has been on a business trip 6hrs away…I have felt so overwhelmed and down all week, lost my appetite completely and have been unable to sleep. I was thinking, setting goals?? Are you serious? I’m doing good to make it through a few hours without being a puddle of tears. I have felt so inadequate, and so terribly lonely. I love my children so much and they are such a blessing! We pray God blesses us with more, but at times I get so exhausted and just wish I could sit down across from another woman that understood. You are right, Crystal, there is a lot on our plates as women. Thank you so much for encouraging me today!!

    • Emily says:

      I was in a similar situation almost 3 years ago. We had just moved to a new state at least 6 hours from our families. My husband started his new job, but I didn’t start a new job until 6 months after we moved to our new area. I was home with my 2 kids, and he was working long hours. I didn’t have any new friends yet and couldn’t find a new church I liked (to be fair, I had left an amazing church, so it would have been really hard for any new church to fill those shoes and I actually still haven’t found one – I just go with my husband to his church). Anyway, I remember the lonely feelings, and I”m thinking about you right now and hoping you find that woman who can sit down across from you and understand you very soon!

  • You have really inspired me to be much more intentional with my goal setting. I hope to try this exercise with my husband as well so that we can encourage each other to improve our lives (rather than convince each other to sit on the couch with DQ Blizzards).

  • Kavitha says:

    Very good post, Crystal. Could you please let me know where to access the previous posts in this series? I want to read all of them.

  • Beth says:

    I have the general idea of these steps in place. How do you actually organize yourself to implement your goals? By this I mean, do you have a master list and then look at this weekly? Monthly? Daily? To plot your course. Do you include those bite size pieces in your daily to-do list? I am transitioning from paper to digital (like you) and have been getting accustomed to this over the last fee months. I am still trying to find the right mix of apps, etc to make things most streamlined. Thanks for all you do and your thoughtfulness.

  • Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much for this post, it is exactly what I needed to give me a push to starting to make my goals happen!

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