Blog | Lindsey Smallwood

How to Eat an Elephant

Lindsey Smallwood

Are your best intentions keeping you from living your best life? Lately I've been wondering if that's what's happening to me. I'm over at Middle Places today with more thoughts on making the next right choice.

If you came over to my house today, you’d notice that the slipcover on my couch isn’t as “Sure-Fit” as it should be, there are crumbs on the floor that have been there for days, and nearly every discernable smooth surface has tiny fingerprints.

Nothing is quite right and I am FINE with that because I’m only a perfectionist in my head.

In my head where I decide that since I can’t lose 40 pounds by Christmas, I might as well have 4 Oreos when my boys nap.

In my head where I justify staying up to watch yet another episode of a show I don’t really care about since I’ve already missed my bedtime.

In my head where it seems like sound logic to choose another afternoon sitting on a park bench watching my kids play instead of strapping them in the jogging stroller which I’ve never actually used for jogging because the best time to jog is first thing in the morning but I can’t seem to get up early enough to make that happen.

You see where I’m going with this. 

Somewhere along the way I’ve let myself off the hook by allowing the lie that if I can’t do something the BEST way it means that I don’t have to do it all. And while not being a perfectionist is probably a good thing when it comes to letting little messes slide, my high standards are keeping me from making choices that help me lead a healthy meaningful life.

There’s a proverb about this very idea:

The point is that when tackling a big project like changing your eating habits or maintaining a spiritual life, it’s not possible to do it all at once. You have to do what you can, plugging away at your goal little by little.

My tendencies to plan and predict and think about what comes next sometimes sabotage me. When I’ve already decided that I’m probably going to eat a donut at my mom’s group tomorrow, what’s the point of staying on my eating plan today? And then once I’ve eaten the donut, that day’s calorie count is shot so what will a few french fries with dinner matter? And on and on and on it goes.

But I’m realizing that if I’m serious about wanting time to pray or experiencing the health benefits of exercise it’s only going to happen one good choice at a time. It’s good to set goals, to have dreams, to begin with the end in mind. But sometimes focusing on the big picture can keep you from taking the next right step.

So I’m stopping to pray in the five minutes I unexpectedly find when we arrive early to play group and I’m leaving the cookies in the jar, even though I had a cinnamon scone for breakfast. I’m looking for opportunities to make little decisions in the right direction. I’ve got to start somewhere.

Heck, I might even adjust the slipcover.