A few years ago, our family was returning home from a Florida vacation. As we typically do for lengthy car trips, we packed in cozily with pillows, blankets, snacks, and a great podcast. I’m definitely a Southern girl, so I tend to kick my shoes off immediately – particularly if I’m in socks and tennis shoes, and kick my feet up under my butt like I did in grade school. Ten miles into our trip, I was settled into the passenger’s seat very nicely and was not looking to move any time soon.
When my husband stopped just a few miles out to get gas and use the restroom, I made a very deliberate choice. I could put my shoes on and disrupt the cozy cocoon I had created OR I could stay put and wait until the next stop, which would likely only be a few more hours. I chose the latter but did ask for some coffee and a bottled water as long as he was going into the store. I bet you are using your deductive reasoning skills and see exactly where this is going.
If you’ve ever traveled from the Gulf of Florida to Tennessee, you may recall that there is a portion of the trip between the Florida and Alabama state lines that is not interstate and is pretty scarce in the places to make a pit stop category. And when I say “pretty scarce” what I actually mean is that there is absolutely NO WHERE to make a bathroom stop for at least 50 or 60 miles. Perhaps you’ve never noticed that…but trust me, I will never forget the fact again when making that same trip. On this particular trip, I was moments away from knocking on a stranger’s front door – or finding a big tree to go behind, but not everyone in our vehicle was family and I wasn’t sure the kids would forgive me if I squatted behind a tree on the side of the road in front of their friends.
I hope you can see the bright lights and hear the “Hallelujah Chorus” in your head the same way I did when we saw the familiar yellow sign of a Dollar General Store sitting all alone in front of us. I ran to the door, flew it open and almost fell to the ground when I saw the writing on the restroom door, “Employees Only”. The clerk must have seen the look before because not a word was exchanged as she took pity on me and gave me the go-ahead nod. Trust me when I tell you I’m in pain as I recall this story. In fact, I’m taking a bathroom break right now. It had quite the impact on me.
So why my bathroom (or lack thereof) story?
I was having lunch with a dear friend yesterday and in our conversation about dreams and goals we have for our children and for ourselves, we began to discuss intention and priorities. She is one of my friends who loves fitness (in fact she teaches fitness classes for fun) and her morning workouts are often her favorite part of the day. I, however, do not share the same love for exercise and I tend to approach workouts like an annual trip to my doctor for cancer screenings – and most of you know what fun that always is.
As we talked about our differences and the things we consider important in each of our lives but struggle to consistently implement, we reached a consensus. It doesn't matter what that "thing" is...unless we are purposeful and intentional – it is unlikely we’ll ever reach the goals we set. For me, that definitely includes exercise. For you, it may be something completely different.
As we continued to discuss how to overcome avoiding and putting things off, I laughed out loud when she told me what her husband often asks their children when it comes to things they may not “choose” to do or may conveniently “forget” to take care of. When they are deep into rationalizing the why it didn’t get done with him, he asks this question, “But did you pee your pants today?” His reasoning: When it becomes important enough to you, you'll find a way to make it happen.
As we parted ways and I continued to reflect on the conversation, I couldn’t help but think about my Florida trip (perhaps because that is, in my recollection, the closest I’ve come to peeing my pants in quite some time). In that moment, I had one goal, only one priority – to find a restroom and find it fast. I didn’t pee my pants, but the possibility was definitely there.
What I learned from that experience is proactive preparation. I can assure you, since then, there has not been a single bathroom stop that I have chosen to sit in the car. My philosophy now is, “You never know when you will have the chance to go again” and I go every, single time.
Now this example may seem silly to you…but the reality is…we ALL make choices every day. We can choose to stay in our cozy cocoons and move lazily through life or we can choose to prepare proactively and be certain that the things we REALLY want stay at the top of our priority lists so we are sure we make them happen.
Here’s the good news…you get to choose what makes the list. And you get to choose what you actually do. And your priorities will likely change many times over the course of your life based on the season you might be in. But the bad news is…you can’t blame anyone or anything when you don’t prioritize those things that you say are important to you. "Did you pee your pants today? When it becomes important enough to you, you'll find a way to make it happen."
If you have a goal in mind that you just can’t seem to reach…ask yourself this question.
What is the one thing I WILL accomplish today that will get me closer to my goal?
And make it happen…no matter what.
We do not reach our goals by chance. Plan. Prepare. And CHOOSE to make it happen. Then choose it again tomorrow and the next day and the next day…and before you know it, you will have reached your goal.
And lastly can I leave you with this? When you get the chance to use the restroom, take it.
“Learn from the mistakes of others, there’s not enough time to make them all yourself.”
“Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!”
Stephani Cook is a life coach, speaker, writer, podcast host and the creator of On Purpose Coaching. Through On Purpose Coaching she helps others to improve relationships and to discover intentional abundant living. She does that through group and/or individual coaching, live event speaking or Enneagram workshops in private and corporate settings.
To connect with Stephani about the possibility of coaching or speaking to your group or organization, visit her website http://www.stephanicook.org