By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
I have found out something about myself recently that was extremely uncomfortable to face. Here it is: I have spent my whole adult life doing my best to avoid setting goals because I was afraid to. Now, mind you, it is not that I have been, as my husband Steve loves to say, “Sitting on the couch watching soaps and eating bon bons.” I have been busy; I have accomplished things that can be quantified, such as publishing over 250 versions of Athens Now, writing a book about my adventures in Iraq, composing songs and music, running two schools in two countries, being part of a best-in-class global whole food business, completing over twenty 5K races in the past six years, and having a radio program.
My point here is not to brag. I am scandalously blessed, I know I am, and I give all the glory to the One who made me. My point is to soberly look at the fact that I more than likely could have accomplished so much more if I hadn’t been so terrified of goal-setting. What happened to me? Why was the prospect of goal-setting so daunting? Simple, and not. Fear of failure, and fear of success. “Oh, come on, knock it off with the Dr. Phil fest,” you might say, and I wouldn’t blame you. I just know that I have struggled and scrapped with reconciling two opposing states, and I have found out that’s actually quite common and definitely human.
I have had to grapple with what would happen to me if I actually was not just successful, but wildly successful? Who would I be? What if I became materialistic? What if I became haughty or arrogant, worse than I already am? What if, as the scriptures say, I became one of those ones who “gained the whole world and lost [my] soul?” Or being one that is rebuked for the utter blindness that can come from being “rich and increased with goods”? For the sake of this discussion, I am not defining success as being financially affluent, per se, because I truly believe that being successful is doing what you were made to do, and I am happy to report that I am, in fact, doing just that. The money is not the issue. But, what if Athens Now became synonymous globally with excellence in publishing? Could I handle it? Would I just become flat impossible to live with or be around?
Truth is, I have been trying to keep myself safe on all fronts by holding back. I have bought into the lie that if I set goals like “successful people do,” and I don’t meet those goals, then I couldn’t bear the disappointment in myself. And, that is just not true. It is not a smart thing to hide one’s talents in a napkin or bury them in the ground, and I am choosing to not do that anymore.
So, and I can’t believe that I am telling you this, I am doing an experiment during the month of October, to be completed on my 69th birthday, which will be November 1. I am going to set goals all month long, work hard to accomplish them, and see what happens. I have got to believe that if I succeed, I’ll be okay, and if I fail, I’ll be ok. Why? Because I am loved by the Good Shepherd, and He has promised to restore my soul. Here goes…