In what might be the biggest understatement ever, let me state the obvious: military spouses understand wonky schedules.
Timelines change. Training dates get moved (again). Deployment dates get shifted. PCS orders are given, then altered, and then given again. Raise your hand if you’ve ever celebrated Christmas in September, your child’s birthday a month ahead of time, or your anniversary six months late because that’s when your spouse would be home.
The point is, you learn to operate on timelines that don’t always make sense, but yet you always make it work. So how can this help us when it comes to setting goals?
With the pages of the new decade freshly turning, the whole world is naturally abuzz with New Year’s resolutions and “new year, new me” mantras. I’m kind of a sucker for New Year’s resolutions myself, even though I know the statistics regarding them.
However, as we’ve already established, schedules are alterable. Maybe you set a New Year’s resolution, maybe you don’t. Maybe you set some goals on February 1st instead of January 1st, or the day your spouse deploys, or on any random Tuesday.
We know that it doesn’t really matter when you start, that day can happen at any time. I want to let you in on a secret regarding goal-setting though. It’s a simple secret with a big impact, so lean in close.
The most important day to anyone who is working towards a goal is NOT the day you start. It’s the day after you screw up.
We are humans and we all make mistakes, even those of us who are Enneagram 1s and who color code all the things (which definitely does not describe me, but I know some of you can relate). If you are setting out to exercise 4 times per week, cut out all processed sugar, read for 20 minutes a day, write on your blog once a week (etc. etc.), there will come a time when you drop the ball.
It might be because you had fifty other balls to carry that day and your "ball droppage" is totally justified- and you should not beat yourself up for it. But dropping the ball at some point is a given. The best thing to do is to have a plan for what happens the next day. Do you give up? Throw in the towel? Believe the damaging narrative that you’re just destined to stay stuck, to not make progress? Buy those lies? NO WAY!
You give yourself a script before that day happens. Author and speaker Jon Acuff calls it the “day after perfect.” In his book, “Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done,” he says, “The day after perfect is what separates finishers from starters.” If we anticipate the day coming, as it will at some point for one reason or another, we can mitigate the negative effects it has on our progress.
You can, and should, say something like, “I ate the carbs or skipped the daily reading yesterday, but today is a new day. Today I can get back on track.” You do not berate or belittle yourself. If you wouldn’t say it to your best friend as she worked to crushed her goals but made one slip-up, please don’t say it to yourself.
Military spouses, you know better than most, that time is a gift. Let us use it wisely, not beat ourselves up when we make mistakes, and give ourselves grace and the gift of starting fresh on any given day.
Christina Herr spent eight years as a Marine Corps wife, from 2008-2016. Her husband, three children, and two dogs are now living the civilian life in her small hometown in southeast Michigan. A lifelong bookworm, she currently works as an Elementary Reading Specialist, where she spends her days teaching her students to love books as much as she does. She also serves as a Women’s Ministry Leader at her church and works as a writer and speaker. In her spare time, you may find her reading, cooking, vacuuming up dog hair, or crying at the latest episode of This is Us. Connect with her at www.facebook.com/christinaherrwrites or www.christinaherr.com.