I was never much of a mantra person. I like quotes and usually find one for anything I’m doing, but I’ve not had much use for mantras in my life. They seem…corny.
Then I accidentally came up with one last year:
‘I’m getting there.’
Whatever mistake, whatever achievement, ‘I’m getting there’ was the anecdote for the ups and downs of life I was experiencing. It helped me understand that I would get where I was going by taking baby steps. And it allowed me the grace I needed when I failed to meet the standard I had set for myself.
That said, I have a new one for this year; and I came by this one by accident as well:
‘Plan and do.’
So this comes from the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel. I’ve been studying the tale, intrigued with the idea that it was God who divided his people. In it, the people, having survived the flood a few generations earlier, unite and decide they are going to build a tower that will reach heaven. For what purpose, you ask? I imagine to show God that they could create something that would allow them to survive anything he had to throw against them (he was the one who flooded the earth, after all, and the only way to survive a global flood was to stay above it…right?). Well, God watches as they start construction on this tower, united in their pride; and declares:
If they have begun to do this as one people all having the same language, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Genesis 11:6
At that point, he confuses their languages and divides the people. But if you take his statement as fact, then you have admit, that’s a pretty amazing affirmation to get from the most powerful being in the universe. Nothing is impossible for us as long as we’re united. I had read that before, and I’ve heard different pastors preach on that point. And certainly, when we’re united in our causes, we can accomplish amazing things. But what stuck out to me this time was the word ‘plan’.
Nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.
We’ve all heard the adage, ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’ It’s a bit of a cliche, but how often do we just jump into something without planning? How often do we find inspiration for a project, a book, a story, etc., but we don’t plan on how to accomplish it? And so it just sits there, an idea that will never see completion. We read articles about millionaires and the habits they created to get them where they are, but we scoff when it comes to writing stuff down and planning. Or we start planning, but it gets too hard at some point and we give up.
Last year, I began doing some self-inventory and discovered I am that type of person. I get ahead of myself. I get a great idea and jump into it, feet first, working that idea and eventually burning myself out because I don’t know where to go with it. And so I end up putting the project aside, and it begins collecting dust, like the hundreds before it. This idea, that if I will just add planning to my doing, was like a light-bulb going off in my head. It might seem like a ‘duh’ moment, something that everyone else knows, but to me, it was a revelation.
What if I planned ahead, instead of getting ahead of myself. What if I set aside a few minutes and a few thoughts to discover what it is I see and where I can take it? Like the adage, we’ve heard the joke, ‘If you want God to laugh, just tell him your plans.’ What if he’s just waiting for me to make plans, so he can adjust them and help me get to the best me?
I think I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but after forty-five years of winging life, I’m excited to finally start planning stuff out, because then that means the impossible will now be possible. Because you know that other cliche (and I’m full of them tonight): ‘It’s only impossible if you don’t try.’
So here’s the other part of mantra’s that I realized this week: the new one doesn’t cancel out the old. It builds on it. I don’t just stop at ‘I’m getting there.’ I get there because I plan and do.
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