To-Do Lists Don't Always Accomplish Goals: How To Practically Achieve Your Goals.
Personally when I think about or hear the word theoretical, my mind instantly correlates an element of prestige to that said adjective. And I think this correlation developed after listening, (and thereby being puzzled by) one too many “theoretical conversations" growing up as the precious baby sister in a family of 7. These theoretical types of conversations typically occurred between mature figures in my life who presented a challenging theoretical situation to each other that required a significant amount of mental gymnastics to solve.
Now that is what the word theoretical used to mean to me. But atlas, I am unfortunately no longer the simple minded, 8 year old little girl whose understandings often stemmed from meek observations. No, I have now entered into “fake adulthood," (which if you're wondering is my made up word for a life filled with elements of responsibility, but largely naive and protected from the pillar stone responsibilities of actual "adulthood"). However despite my somewhat condescending definition of my current chapter in life, rest assured that I am overwhelmed with excitement to enter this new stage in life, and most importantly, I am ALREADY learning so many valuable life lessons while simultaneously re-defining my perspective on new topics and terms.
And one of the lesson I want to share with you today has to do with the word I mentioned in the beginning of this post: THEORETICAL. Theoretical is a word that I previously correlated with maturity and mental agility, but have recently redefined based on some important lessons that I have observed from entering into “fake adulthood.”
From my personal observation, in adulthood (and even fake adulthood), being theoretical often implies detailed planning. And how have I observed this? Perhaps by through scrolling through hundreds of Pinterest, academic pages cluttered with to-do list print outs, career goal planning articles, and health tips. Or perhaps I observed this implication from our society's intense emphasis on life planning. But it makes sense why adults are drawn to planning, right? Planning is securing. In a world of unknowns, our yearning for personal peace can be appeased by planning our goals and articulate responses to certain situations.
But surprisingly, I feel that being theoretical is only glamorous in part. Because I am learning from personal experience that the link between our glamorous theoretical expectations/goals and viable results requires practical implementation. And unfortunately, glamorous theoretical goals can quickly become too theoretical and consequently neglect to acknowledge and prepare individuals to navigate through the practical (and often less than glamorous) steps that are inevitably required if we want to actually reach our theoretical goals.
And so many times—(whether in the Christian or secular world), our goals can become far too centered around hypothetical situations without actually experiencing (and therefore navigating through), many of the situations that we have already perfectly planned our responses or approaches for. Now everyone’s theoretical plans and goals are different because God has uniquely made each us. But recently I have been been reflecting on the distinct difference between my theoretical expectations/goals and the practical implementation of my said goals in the context of my health, academics, work, relationships and peer pressure. And today I am going to share a few of those differences, but first...
1.) There are plenty of other areas in my life that are not listed below 2.) The list below includes very personal differences, and 3.) I hope that the primary lesson/message in this post is not diluted by my upcoming lists. Because my primary intention of this post is to provoke my readers to think about how being theoretical can often prevent us from realizing and taking up the difficult and mundane tasks that God calls us to.
Health and Fitness:
- Following hundreds of Pinterest pages filled with healthy and elaborate recipes.
- Sticking to a rigorous 6-day a week workout plan.
- Never straying from my perfectly planned school schedule with intentional workout breaks.
- Giving up drinking gallons of soda a day for caffeine, (hello migraines).
- Learning to wake up an unhealthy hour to make rice and chicken, (yum/goodbye Chick-Fil-A and accepting that I will not make 99.9% of the healthy recipes I pin on Pinterest).
- Saying no to late night social outings in order to get enough sleep, (fun).
- Admitting that three a week workouts are the only practical way I will not give up working out altogether (HUMBLING yet again).
- Planning a full and challenging semester course load that blows the pants off of my peers and potential employers.
- Following an impressive and quarterly updated academic plan.
- Prepping an overwhelming list of academic and extracurricular clubs to join, (because who can't handle being miss popular--oh yeah, maybe me).
- Prayerfully choosing between surviving a full and challenging course load or having a social life.
- Showing up every day and night grinding away to reach my far more easily planned academic goals. --Hello late night tears, coffee shop dates and an endless amount of prayers.
- Accepting that my mental and spiritual health can only handle one extracurricular or academic club at a time despite being allured by the potential of an insane resume.
- Following my peers’ impressive 20-hour a week foot steps while attempting to maintain a balanced (and thriving) academic career.
- Planning out a perfect quarter schedule blocked out primarily with bright pink (school) and turquoise (work) blocks-- (Goodbye social and spiritual time).
- Landing an internship or employment position that will be both impressive to my peers and future post-grad employer.
- Admitting that my academic success and spiritual health HAS and DOES suffer when I try to compete with my talented, but uniquely made peers.
- Showing up shift after often BORING and MUNDANE shift in order to develop a strong work ethic at work and honor God with my time.
- Learning to fully trust that neglecting certain career opportunities in order to intentionally focus on tending to my relationship with God and my family has eternal worth far beyond what this world, (or any job) has to offer.
- Truly accepting in my heart that a job title on my resume does not define my worth or potential as God’s child. (Aka learning that it is time to happily take myself out of the competitive Millennial career prep rat race.)
- Reading relationship book after relationship book while storing up countless personal observations of relationships with confidence that I know how to biblically begin and navigate healthy Christian relationship.
- Maintaining fruitful and happy friendships that fit into my hectic schedule.
- Clinging fast to my thoughtful spiritual expectations/standards for a relationship.
- Denying the temptation to be attracted to attention from a guy rather than his mature and Godly characteristics.
- Dying to myself by sacrificing my agenda, preferences and pride in order to love my friends, family and future boyfriend in a sacrificial manner.
- Being confident in God’s timing for my future relationship and remembering that patience is a virtue that works to magnificently mature my relationship with God.
- Continuing to holding my high standards, but accepting that everyone is broken, and my spiritual expectations for a future mate may need to be developed, rather than already perfectly implemented.
...Well that's all for today because this list could continue on for days, but I hope this exercise/post worked to remind us all that being theoretical is not really how God calls us to live as His children. Rather, I believe that God calls us to do the nitty gritty, to die to ourselves, to accept our imperfections and to release our expectations to Him. And guess what? Even the most amazing book, plan, job or education can do that for us!
Until next time,