Monday, January 4, 2016

Some Is Better Than None

Ahh...a new year is beginning! Maybe you haven’t written your New Year’s Resolutions down, but there are probably a few goals swirling around in your mind. 

This year you’re going to exercise five times a week and lose 20 pounds. 
This year your family is going to eat much healthier. 
This year you’re going to keep your house much cleaner. 
This year you’re going to be a lot more organized. 
This year you’re really going to get a handle on the kids’ schoolwork and not get behind on any of it. 

If you’re like rest of us, this will all work beautifully through mid-January, at which point you will systematically begin falling off the wagon. However, when that happens the key is to remember this principle: Some is better than none. 

Let’s go over that again, shall we? Some is better than none

So you only managed to exercise once during a week. Some is better than none
So the only thing you got around to organizing by mid-April is your sock drawer. Some is better than none
So the kids’ schoolroom only gets tidied sporadically instead of daily, like you’d prefer. Some is better than none.

Keeping this concept in mind does several things. First, it lowers your stress and guilt level. If you’re like me, you continually fall short of your to-do list. If you’re like me, that stresses you and you feel guilty for every misspent moment of the day. I sat down with a cup of tea and chatted idly with a friend on Facebook for ten minutes—shame on me! I should have been organizing that stack of stuff on my desk! However, remembering that some is better than none lessens the pressure. The list might not get all done but we are not total failures if a couple of items are left over. We don’t have to run around in a guilt-laden panic all the time. Reality is reality and we seldom measure up to our own goals. Guess what? That’s life. So remember, some is better than none.

Second, acting on the idea that some is better than none actually enhances motivation instead of dampening it. Have you ever fallen short of your goal and become so discouraged that you didn’t even bother trying anymore? You couldn’t keep up that exercise routine so you stopped altogether. You didn’t have time for all the home-cooked nutritious meals you planned, so you went right back to the old habit of using pre-packaged foods from the freezer. You didn’t stay on top of the Bible memorization routine you were trying to do with your children, so you stopped altogether. I, at least, have been there and done that. We become discouraged because we set the standard to be “Absolute Perfection” and therefore even the smallest failure is a complete one.

However, if you believe that some is better than none, you keep trying. Sure, you’re not living up to the standard you’d prefer, but you don’t let that stop you. You know that even what you consider to be mediocre efforts bring benefits. One healthy meal a day is still healthier than a meal of junk food. Reading just one chapter a week with your kids from that biography you wanted to read together is still more informative and challenging than not doing it at all. Cleaning the school area every three weeks instead of daily still keeps the room cleaner more often than not doing it at all. It’s encouraging! Even if you’re not making the level of progress you want, you are still making progress! Looking at matters this way keeps you focused on the positive good you are doing, not on what you’re not getting done.

Of course, one might argue that the philosophy of some being better than none leads to all sorts of compromise. It could, if misapplied. There are some areas where anything short of excellence is sin. We wouldn’t want to say that some is better than none if we were discussing character issues like honesty or purity. For instance, Jesus never told us that hey, some truthfulness is better than none, or that some marital fidelity is better than none. There is a non-negotiable standard of excellence for certain things and to fall short is to break God’s law. However, if we step out of the realm of morality and into the world of sock drawers, exercise regimens, or math assignments, the standards are more flexible. Your inheritance in heaven is thankfully not determined by the state of your sock drawer. It’s okay to relax.

So as the new year begins, just smile and do whatever you can. It may not be all you would like to do, but it is accomplishing more and bringing more benefit than doing nothing. Aim high, but accept the fact that some days you’ll hit low. So be it. Even a low hit is better than no hit. Smile and try again tomorrow.


Written by Raquelle Sheen