Friday, January 29, 2010

When Life Doesn't Work: Check Your Compass

If you're like the rest of us, the winter months are uniquely challenging. When life isn't working, it's important to check on your internal compass. Where were you heading in the first place?

What was it that you were trying to accomplish? What was your vision?

When you set goals that require the cooperation of others, you can't control whether or not you achieve them. That creates a situation which can make you feel anxious, frustrated, even depressed.

If you are trying to teach children, you aim for them to learn! That's your hope!

But it requires that they do something. So it can't be your exact goal on a given day.

For peace and sustained inspiration, you need goals that are achievable and that are not dependent on the cooperation of other people and your circumstances. It's better to focus on what you can do. But even here, the way can be a slippery slope. You can plan to teach a lesson, cook dinner, and take out the trash. These are almost satisfactory. They are concrete, specific objectives based on an action you take. You will achieve them as long as unexpected events do not occur, over which you have no control. And let's be honest -- how often does that happen? At least once a week. Sometimes, it's every day.

See what I mean?

You work with people and for people. That means all your objectives are conditional. They require that others cooperate and that conditions are in your favor. When important goals are blocked, you're likely to feel frustrated, angry, depressed, even despairing.

You could throw in the towel. Just give up. But often, that's not a good solution. Because you love your people.

If you adjust your goals to ones that you can control, no matter what happens, and if you realize that a lot of stuff probably will happen, every week, you will be in a better position to maneuver through the unexpected.

This is what I want to talk with you about next week.

But first, I want your thoughts . . .

What's one goal you can set for yourself this weekend which does not require cooperation from others or your circumstances?


  1. What great advice. Sometimes our goals for the people we love can be quite lofty. We must find a comfortable balance. And then there are some areas we must remain firm in - for the long run :)

    I think a lovely goal for myself this weekend would be making a double batch of our favorite cookies to freeze ahead for tea times next week.

  2. Is there ever a time like this? I cannot even think of ONE thing that isn't so affected, perhaps it is a "mother's syndrome" to have such a point of view. Or some other ailment! HA.

    One of my personal goals that has been gradually formulating over the past two years has been regularly taking the steps necessary for self-care: Physically, nutritionally and spiritually, and, of late, even intellectually/playfully. It has been a long process to realize the importance of these things, so amidst each day's demands, I've been making this gradual shift (by degrees) which increasingly makes allowance for these things as priorities. So whatever happens around me -- and it is MUCH daily -- there exist those four "sacred" goals, held loosely in my grasp.
    I rarely hit all of them in a single day, but it's better than to not have the goal in the first place.
    Let's see, this weekend, I'll have to decide come tomorrow morning!
    Have a great weekend!

  3. That is, my own ailment, to imagine that there is nothing that is not somehow affected by circumstances and the cooperation of others. LOL


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