We all need goals. It doesn’t matter if your husband left you and you are in a state of despair or not, every person on the planet needs goals to live a successful life. That said, goals are EXTREMELY important when you are overwhelmed by life in and of itself. I dare say even more important than when life is all rainbows and unicorns.
I homeschooled my boys for 17 years. Whenever they were overwhelmed, I had them make a task list. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Task lists help us to eat that elephant one bite (task) at a time without becoming too overwhelmed. As we check off each task, we literally see our progress on paper. Making process toward any of our goals, albeit minute progress, almost always decreases our anxiety.
I’m a list maker by my very nature. I don’t know where it all began, but I have lists everywhere! I still have a list in my college Bible of my favorite go to scripture verses for anxiety. The list is crumpled and torn, but that list has helped calm me as I went through the comforting list of scriptures time and again. My current office has list upon list. Lists of daily tasks, weekly tasks and a calendar where I also keep future “to do” items on a sideboard. I don’t use the note feature on my phone very frequently, but that may work for you. I’m a dinosaur and prefer good old pen and paper!
In the days just after my ex’s departure, my goals were literally minute by minute. Step by step. I made lists just so I could remember what it was I was supposed to be doing! As time moved along, my goals were less and less about simply surviving and more about thriving and enjoying life. Lists won’t take away all of your anxiety during those early months, but they will help you focus on the tasks you MUST do in order to survive — closing accounts, removing his name, your name from this, that and the other–list upon list of documents you need to gather for your lawyer, court or the dreaded refinance loan officer. It cannot all be done in one day and it will be overwhelming, often times unbearably overwhelming! Don’t beat yourself up. Do one or two items on your list a day if that is all you can handle. REMEMBER: the two become one flesh in marriage, as Jesus reminds us in Matthew 19. Divorce is an awful, painful ripping apart of that one flesh into two again.
Last year, I made a list of “House Goals” I wanted to achieve by the time I was sole owner of my house for a year. I was anxious about the state of disrepair my house had fallen into. It was already in bad shape before he exited the scene and a year and a half of legal drama later, I had done very little upkeep. I didn’t have the money for repairs, first and foremost, but I certainly wasn’t going to repair and maintain a house —sink money into a house–that I may have ripped from under me at any moment. So, the day I got the closing date for my refinance, I started making a list of needed repairs!
I achieved every single one of my goals 5 1/2 weeks early (just the week before last)! I listed everything from simple to complicated. I wasn’t sure I would complete them all, but what are goals if you don’t add a few pie in the sky wishes in there? Here’s the list if goals I made and achieved:
- Fix the front porch lights.
- Fix the sinking front porch step.
- Remove the rotting wood from the step rails and paint the rails and front porch banister.
- Fix the two old garage doors with holes & paint them.
- Buy a new riding lawnmower.
- Replace the rotting railroad ties with small retaining walls.
- Replace the two OLD heat pump units with more efficient units. They actually both broke just before the refi was complete.
- Paint the kitchen.
- Paint the hallway, entryway and landing at the top of the stairs.
- Paint the master bathroom.
- Paint (whitewash) the fence and make small repairs.
- Remove the broken cowboy fence from the front yard.
- Install security cameras (yes, I did this myself, y’all).
- Remove the black mold growing in the north side of the house for 14 years.
- Paint the second door orange.
- Replace the rotting mailbox.
- Pressure wash the driveway.
- Replace the outside lighting that had been burned out for years!
Each weekend off work, I worked on my house. I planned the project through the week and completed it on the weekend—except the painting of the trim inside my house! Painting the trim was a nightly task for weeks and weeks. Oy vey! I learned a lot this past year. Most important, I learned that trim is the devil. I learned to use tools and I finished projects I never dreamed I could even do! My middle son helped with several tasks and consulted with me about the best tools I needed in order to complete said tasks. My tool collection is growing right along with my confidence! This year, I even have a “tool goal”. I want to purchase a Sawzall. My neighbor let me borrow his and I fell in love. It is my 2019 pick of the year for must have tools.
I’m not super woman by any stretch of the imagination. My anxiety gets the best of me much of the time as I too often worry about the future! God’s grace gave me the strength to take deep breaths, break down the problems into smaller bites and slowly, but surely make progress.
Now to explain the picture at the top. The project that started it all and gave me the confidence I needed to tackle all the other jobs around my house. In the first year of my newfound singleness, I took apart this 25-30 year old riding lawnmower and fixed it. I used YouTube Tutorials and found the old manual online and viola! I had a mower that could mow grass. I figured, it wasn’t working and I had no lawnmower otherwise, so what could it hurt to try? If I didn’t fix it, I wasn’t out a thing, right!? As I struggled to get the mower deck off, I said to God, “Lord, I just need this baby to work for one more year. Next year, I’ll figure out how to get a new or newer one!” It lasted one year– almost to the day– I was mowing and it started smoking at the same time it made an awful clanging noise–the engine seized up and that was all she wrote. God gave me one more year with that mower. Last year, when she went to the old junkyard in the sky, I purchased the smaller John Deere they make. I love it.
My life verse is Philippians 4:13–I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. Fast forward to 2019 where I have just made an absolutely CRAZY goal for myself. I am going to run in a 5k race in October. Dream big and make list of what you need to achieve your dreams. With God’s help you can do anything!