When life derails for any reason, I struggle to adjust. I have a plan, and then it gets blown to bits.
Some days I feel like I’m not on Plan A, but am probably on Plan Q or R, maybe Z. At those times, derailment is frustrating, and other days it’s deeper than that. This isn’t just an “ah shucks” feeling. I’m talking about that haunting, dull ache of regret. The feeling that I’m off track. That I derailed (again).
How do we get derailed?
- Life throws a curveball and knocks you flat. I experienced this when Dave admitted to his porn addiction. I didn’t see that one coming! He was a fun, loving husband and a great dad. (Still is, but wow!) When a giant curveball the size of a stadium is heaved your way, get the necessary help, practice this coaching exercise about control, then move forward.
- Life throws you a curveball of your own making. Totally avoidable, this derailment probably packs more punch than we want to admit. When we cause the issue, it’s time to stop and change course.
Whether life is pitching up curveballs of your making or not, it’s time to stop and make a change.
Any time you and I slow down to focus on deepening our faith, we benefit greatly. We are reminded to do that during Lent before Easter, or Advent before Christmas, or maybe even during the anniversary of a painful time of life. But we don’t need to wait for a certain day on the calendar to stop and reflect.
Some people fast or refrain from something during Lent. It’s a good thing. Short periods of fasting create focused energy that moves us toward desired outcomes. In some ways, we know we can make it through the fast because it’s a pre-determined time. There’s an end in sight. We can activate our willpower to accomplish this goal.
But what about those life changes you need to make that don’t have an end date? Willpower won’t take you there. At some point, you’ll derail unless there’s a bigger motivator.
Whenever I derail from anything, my reason for the goal hasn’t been a true motivator.
Some people call this your “Big Why.” That’s a good descriptor for it. But is it strong enough to keep you from derailing?
Right now, I discovered my Big Why for one life goal doesn’t cut it. I started strong. I wrote several reasons for achieving this goal, but they’ve fallen flat. I’ve derailed. Again. And in the process found myself slipping quickly into a victim mindset related to this goal.
My reality? My curveball? Self-inflicted. I chose to derail.
That probably sounds harsh. It’s not. It’s honest. In this goal, I became discouraged, tired of the battle, and decided to self-sabotage. Have you done that? If you haven’t, then this post is not for you.
If you can relate to getting derailed, let’s construct a strong motivator to keep from making this choice. Try these steps:
You’ve heard of SMART goals. The “S” stands for specific. Too many times, we think we’re specific, but we’re not. To keep from being derailed, we must get specific to the nitty-gritty. Often, I don’t want to get this detailed because I’m committed to the actions and outcome. It’s real and tangible. Sometimes fluffy and nebulous feels better.
Here’s an example of a non-specific goal: Write my first historical novel this year. PFFFT. Yes, I put a timeframe on it, but that’s it. NOT specific.
- Schedule 2-hour blocks of writing Monday through Friday. Block these times on my calendar by Friday, March 19.
- Draft the framework for the novel by April 1.
- Schedule my editing slot with my preferred editor by May 30.
- Deliver the manuscript draft to the editor by July 1.
Do you see the difference?
Nothing of importance happens until we stare that goal in the face.
- Do I really want it?
- What am I willing to do, give up, go without, and change to accomplish it?
Life must change to accomplish this goal.
Normal got you here. To get there, it’s time for abnormal. Identify what holds you back from achieving this goal.
Porn addiction threatens your marriage. If you continue to ignore it, the addiction smolders and simmers beneath your relationship. It doesn’t go away on its own. Normal, seemingly comfortable behavior allows the poison to damage you and your spouse further. You say you hate it and want a marriage of honesty and unity. If that’s true, then you make different choices. Yes, he’s looking at porn, but you have choices to make. You are not out of control. You choose to get help. Current behaviors will change, some discomfort may replace a comfortable pattern, and some things you enjoy might have to go away completely.
According to Merriam-Webster, determined means firmly resolved. Resolved is a declaration to deal successfully with that issue. There’s a strength to this word. It requires more than a decision; it demands action.
You’re tired of the debt collector’s calls. As you review your latest credit card statements, you realize something drastic has to change. The stress from your accumulated debt keeps you awake every night. Now your body shows signs of stress every time you look in the mirror. You know you can choose to do what it takes to pay off all this debt and change how you manage your finances.
It takes cutting up your credit cards, canceling all but one of them, and only paying cash from this day forward. You and your spouse probably need to get second jobs until you are out from under this burden. No vacations until the debts are paid off. The cars might need to be sold, maybe even go to one car. You look around your house and decide to sell everything that isn’t necessary to daily life. All these choices won’t last forever, but for now.
The reason I derailed?
I didn’t determine my outcome in such a way that it became resolved. I wasn’t determined. Instead, I was hopeful. Wishful.
To achieve my desired goal, not only do I need to get specific and honest, but I must also change my mind about it. If I don’t, I’ll never reach it, which I proved repeatedly. Without resolute determination to succeed at all costs, nothing will happen. Instead, I’ll live with regret and shame. Just writing that changes my mind. For too many years, regret and shame enjoyed free-rent space in my mind. They’re lousy folk to pal around with.
What regrets do you have right now? Take a few minutes today to stare them down. If you start to feel overwhelmed, pick one. One regret. You can do this. You are in control of your choice to change. Have you derailed on purpose or even on accident? What do you need to determine to change the outcome?
Moving from derailed to determined only happens with a mindset change resulting from getting specific and honest. I’ll keep you posted on my progress. I’d love to hear about yours. Send me an email here.