I love October. Crisper weather (or at least it should be – Missouri is sometimes a bit fickle in this area). Hot chocolate. Falling leaves. Sweaters and hoodies. Oktoberfests, birthdays, and parties, the preparation for all the family togetherness in the last months of the year.

You know what I don’t love? Getting 3/4 of the way through the year and realizing that I am not going to complete my goals. Again. Sigh. I am a huge goal nerd. I will put something I have already finished on the list, just to have the pleasure of marking it off.  My normal routine when I realize that I am falling behind has been to take a deep breathe and work like a crazy person to try to get it all done. And, of course, the results are often many, many partially finished projects and a state of exhaustion by the end of December. Am I the only one?

My word for the year is Transformation. I wanted to improve my health, enlarge my mind, and move closer to my day job. I thought a reasonable goal for reading was to finish the Caldecotts and Newberys, read 12 classics, and read 12 books for personal growth. In January, this seemed quite reasonable, along with finding a new place to live, and changing my eating habits. By he end of September, I was far off-track from where I thought I should be. My books were stacking up, and I kept finding other things to add to my reading pile that were not on the “approved” list.


As I was facing my October overwhelm, rather than hunker down for a few months of crazy, I decided to take a step back. I taped together 4 blank pieces of paper and did a mind map of what was currently going on, paying especial attention to anything that was causing stress or worry. If you have never done a mind map, I highly recommend them. They can be used to take notes, but I generally use mine when I am having trouble seeing patterns or sorting out issues with my life. It really helps me to see visually what I can and cannot do anything about. When it is all on paper, I can clearly see what is a prayer concern, what needs as action step, and what I can downgrade or put off.

Well, my mind-map this month was a crazy hodge-podge of lines and color. I used red and orange to show areas of stress or time issues. The areas that were going well were severely out numbered. I then printed out my goal list from Evernote, and did some strategic thinking, as I compared the present, the plan, and the level of tension created by the conflict between the two.

What I discovered is that a lot has changed since January. Then, I thought we would be moving closer to my work. Now my son is taking over the farm, so we are involved with planning with the lawyer, and fixing up the farm. I have also invested in blogging and writing courses that have captured my time and attention, as well as scared me silly. We have added a son-in-law, had a son and daughter graduate college, and have a grandson on the way. And we started making day trips to a bunch of state parks, collecting stamps for the Missouri State Park Centennial. Life is different than I thought it would be. And this is ok.

I gave myself permission to NOT do what was on my list!! I gave myself permission to not pursue every opportunity, and instead focus on my priorities. This is huge for me. My lists had become my master rather than my servant and helper. So…I am reevaluating, focusing on the most important, and giving myself grace as I move into the last quarter of the year. My word for the year is still transformation,  it is just not working out in the ways I expected.

When have you chosen to let go of some goals in order to accomplish others? How has that worked?