Setting goals in my life has always been hard. I am a big picture person. I would see a work of art and think I could replicate it, but I never could quite get it accomplished. I would sit down with everything I needed but couldn’t get started. As a child I was told to clean my room. I would stand there for hours unable to begin because the details were so overwhelming. So now, when I look back over my life, I sometimes wonder how I have accomplished anything, really. What finally got my attention was just how much of what I do is based on what others were doing or what others expected me to do.

When I think of my goals in life, I always find myself in an endless loop of questioning why. Where do my aspirations come from? How much time and work am I willing to put into meeting these goals? It seemed to always come back to the goals I had for myself versus those that are put on me by others.

As a homeschool mom, the pressure to give your kids experiences as well as a full education is strong. The curriculums, the subjects, the style of teachings are all major choices. I have friends who teach Latin in elementary school, while others just read and do nature studies, or base an entire year of study around the specific interests of their child. While all of these options have been great for these families, it wasn’t right for us. I remember the first time I was asked what style I used. It was the beginning of my love affair with the word ‘eclectic’.

In recent years my life has changed dramatically. For the first time I was learning to separate my own goals and interests from those put on my by others. But more importantly I began standing up and fighting for my goals while saying NO to others expectations.

When this began, I was overwhelmed with how much of what I was doing had been laid out for me by others. After this realization, I felt lost. I didn’t know what to do, or what I wanted to do. Those voices of guidance were still all around me, but somehow I had to show them that I meant NO and at the same time, I had to find what goals I would say YES to. This created more problems as I fumbled around in frustration with no real focus.

Then I was given some amazing advice that set me on a path to find my way.

“Don’t try to do it all at once. Do it one step at a time.”

Wow! How many times had I set out with a big picture in mind, trying to recreate what I saw all at once?

So I stepped back and began to focus on stripping away the goals and expectations that I didn’t want. This also meant stripping away friendships or changing them in big ways. It was painful at times, and I felt so lost on those days. I wanted to celebrate my new found freedom but had few others there with me. My 40th birthday came and went. I celebrated with my husband, but I realized when you don’t spend your days living out others expectations, some decide it isn’t important to spend time with you. I began therapy and talked through my struggles. I prayed a lot. I fell into a depression and wanted nothing more than to sit in my pajamas and binge watch all day.

Then one day, as if all I needed was time to truly move beyond the unhealthy expectations of others, I was handed opportunity. The overwhelming excitement to embark on a journey I would love was before me and I was elated.

I am not saying this is how it will happen for everyone. But the biggest step in my life to get me on a path of goal making was to recognize which goals were mine and which one weren’t and to take one step at a time. This is how I found happiness in my day to day while still taking care of my responsibilities.

Now I get up, looking forward to what I am doing with my children and what I am working on for others. Each day is a small step toward the big picture, and I am no longer so overwhelmed in these choices.