Staying “On Mission” When You’re “Off Schedule”

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Tuesday morning my kids played quietly as I soaked in the beauty of an unseasonably mild winter day. I was enjoying a slow pace as our morning got started. My plan for the day was simple: help my daughter bake brownies from scratch, spend an hour working on a project for a client, and take the kids to an award program for Trail Life and American Heritage Girls in the evening.

I took a moment to start a blog post: “This morning I looked outside at the sun-kissed hills near our home and took a deep breath. I treasure these moments of peace knowing that anything may happen today. (I am the mother of five children.)”

Then my two-year-old stuck a sharp colored pencil in her four-year-old brother’s eye.

My day was suddenly “off schedule” to say the least.

I confiscated the pencil, called our doctor’s office, and scrambled to get kids in enough clothes, coats, and shoes to get out the door.

I was no longer “on schedule,” but I was still “on mission.” When we sit down to plan our days we don’t know what’s going to be most important. But we almost always know when the moment comes. Thankfully, it’s not always as obvious as an emergency trip to the eye doctor. But how often is it just as important?

When it’s your child’s heart that’s hurting, you might need to put a schoolbook aside and cuddle up in a chair together. When your child is testing the limits, you may need to take time to firmly work on the problem at the heart level. When your child needs time to rest and space to grow, you may need to excuse yourself from doing some good things to make space for the most important things.

The key to doing this is to determine that your life’s mission is important enough to make your schedule a tool rather than your master.

Most of us know instinctively that real life is the best classroom.

On Tuesday my kids (and I) learned a lot:

  • The most adorable two-year-old in the world is dangerous if armed with a pencil.
  • The cornea is the fastest healing tissue in the human body.
  • An eight-year-old can (almost) make brownies from a mix by herself.
  • Over time, some sort of mysterious gunk can make the hood of a Ford Expedition impossible to fully open or close.

Even more importantly we experienced kindness and growth:

  • The Costco vision center receptionists offered to keep an eye on three kids while I pulled a pathetic little boy into the exam room.
  • That same little boy informed me that I didn’t need to “talk at” his little sister for poking him in the eye. He already told her not to do it again.
  • My oldest daughter realized, “It must be hard for you and dad to take us to the places we enjoy going.”
  •  Friends gave us duct tape to keep that hood down.
  • Our repair shop fixed the faulty hood latch for free.
That day reminds me of why my dear friend, Joan L. Turley, and I created our Art of Planning course. Navigating life is tricky. We need a plan to make sure we’re making the most of our weeks, months, and years. But we need to be ready to pivot quickly to make sure we’re doing what matters most each day. At the end of the day, the most important question isn’t, “Did I stay on schedule today?” The most important question is, “Am I on track to fulfill my mission in life?” Being able to answer that question confidently will fill you with a peace that will stand strong during life’s storms.

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