Have you ever had one of those weeks, or months, that goes by in a blink, and when you open your eyes, it’s like everything has changed while you were sleeping?
For me, it was about a 6-month block of time. I had a baby, finished a huge project at work, moved across the country, packed up the husband for 2 months, and BAM. I’m sitting in a new living room, baby fighting sleep on my chest, toddler finally passed out in the next room, husband back on the other side of the country, wondering what happened to the last 6 months. And once I start to process the last 6 months, I look forward to the next 5 weeks and realize I’m about to put the kids into a new daycare, unpack a house by myself, start a new job…
That’s about when my brain short-circuited and I went to the kitchen to pour myself a tiny glass of wine.
As I listed off the priorities in my life, that’s probably where I could have stopped. But this time, I took a deep breath, and took a big whiff of that new baby smell, and looked down at that little face as she squirmed a little bit closer to my neck and sighed herself back to sleep.
You see, I’ve been setting some tough goals for myself personally. Not “I’m going to run a marathon next weekend” kind of goals, that would be crazy. I just did my first real workout in 3 years after two babies and a job that tethered me to a desk. But the kind of goals that people talk about someone pulling off once or twice. The kinds of goals people use as anecdotes when they try to give an inspirational pep talk. They’re the kind of goals people set aside when they have a house to unpack, a new job to start and enough excuses to build a tower to the moon.
I’ve also had a few people (ok, a lot of people) tell me I’m crazy, or ask that awkward, transparent question “oh, so YOU’RE trying to accomplish THAT by WHEN?”
Some have told me to set “more realistic goals.” Others have pointed out the fact that I have enough excuses in my life and that it’s “OK if you DON’T.” The problem is, I’m sitting here with this tiny creature snoring on my chest. And her big brother is sleeping in the next room. And they’re going to ask me someday if they should quit. They’re going to ask me if THEY could be the Olympic athlete. Or the President. Or if THEY can be as successful or as capable of changing the world as (insert your choice of untouchable world-changing figure here).
When I imagine that moment, I can only stomach one answer.
And regardless of the outcome, I need to be able to tell them that they CAN achieve the crazy goals. The untouchable status. The things that everyone rolls their eyes at, tries to cover up their smirk, tells you things like CAN’T, SHOULDN’T, or don’t HAVE to. The answer isn’t some inflated idealistic “kiddo, you WILL win a gold medal someday.” The answer is, if you decide it’s something you want to achieve, you CAN’T QUIT until you’ve done everything in your power to make it happen. If you stop short, you’ll live the rest of your life knowing you made a conscious decision not to try HARD ENOUGH.
Reaching those untouchable goals requires hustle. It requires sacrifice. It requires the resilience and stamina to keep moving forward when the world says you CAN’T, SHOULDN’T, don’t HAVE to. It doesn’t mean sacrificing your life or your family, it just means finding the path to your goal, creatively weaving it into your life, and consistently working to achieve it DESPITE whatever setbacks come your way. It means adjusting your plan and moving around the obstacle when it won’t budge, instead of turning back to find another race to run. It means getting creative when life throws you too much and finding a way to keep moving your pieces across the board, one move at a time.
And when you fail, you’ll at least know you tried as hard as you could.
And when you succeed?
I like the sound of that. WHEN you succeed.
Because when you make the choice not to quit, it’s not a question of IF, but WHEN. Because if it’s important enough, you CAN, you SHOULD, and you WILL.