How to Make Peace with Things Undone

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Take the long view
Take the long view

Take the long view…

Woulda. Shoulda. Coulda. These three little words can make us crazy if we let them, can’t they? We get to the end of a day, or a season, or a school year and all we see are the things we didn’t do. Without conscious thought, we turn the clarity of hindsight into a big, fat club and beat ourselves up with it.

Let’s not do that.

Here’s the reality: none of us can do everything we want to do, all at once. Though believe me, I’ve tried. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. We want to spend quality time with each and every one of our children, regularly. We want date nights and meaningful conversation with our men, a house worthy of a magazine layout, a perfect body—without Photoshop.

We want to make progress towards our dreams.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those things—except our own unrealistic expectations. We look around and buy into the lie that we can have it all, and do it all, right now. Today. Every day.

Nobody can. Because the Infinite Creator gave us a set number of hours in every day. No more, no less. When we try to steal more time by robbing our bodies of sleep, we pay for it later.

And when we focus on the things we didn’t do—rather than those we did–we lose our joy in the moment, in the simple beauty of being.

It’s time to get off the crazy wheel, time to reject the lie. We make ourselves—and those we love—nuts when we try too hard to do it all.

It’s time to make peace with things undone.

I once heard author Lori Wick say she didn’t want her children’s memory of their mother to be the back of her head, hunched over a computer. That piece of wisdom stayed with me while my children were young. Yes, I wanted to write, and I did, but that wasn’t the only thing I did.

If you’re feeling the pressure of woulda- shoulda-coulda today, let me encourage you to take a minute and picture yourself ten years from now. What things will you wish you’d spent more time on? What things really won’t matter? Use those answers to make decisions today.

Let’s make peace with things undone.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1


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    The Conversation

  1. Lorna Dishman says:

    Wow Connie your words hit home with me! I laughed when you mentioned using Photoshop for the perfect body, but your comment about being ten years from now and what I would have wished I had done just made me sit back. I’m constantly down on myself for the many things I didn’t accomplish, but one thing I’m so glad I’ve done was family vacations. No matter how hard things got, we always found a way to do something as a family for our summer vacation. My husband and I built happy memories with our daughter, and that I definitely don’t regret!

    • Connie Mann says:

      Those are precious, precious memories, Lorna! I’m so glad you made that time a priority with your family. Remembering what we’ve done that really matters makes it easier to let go of things undone. Glad it encouraged you!

  2. Connie, this really hit home for me today. I’m juggling an overload on my job (two fellow workers — and friends — have left) as well as what’s quickly becoming a full-time writing career. And oh, that laundry and ever-growing lawn! But we need to take a deep breath from time to time and find persepctive. Thanks for the very apt post!

    • Connie Mann says:

      I’m so very glad it encouraged you, Laura! It is easy to get sidetracked by the urgent screaming from every direction isn’t it? Glad you are making time to take a breath and regroup!

  3. You know the pre-flight instructions given by stewards, right? The statement when where they tell women to put the oxygen mask on themselves before helping their child? Works on the ground, too. Remembering to breathe deeply is always a good thing.

  4. Nicely put, Connie. It makes me feel better about having waited for the boys to grow up before I started writing. For a few years there was some resentment, but I know now it was the right thing to do.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Thanks, Rosemarie! So glad you’ve been able to make peace with that, especially because those years go by so quick and we never get them back! Enjoy the writing now!

  5. Jan Jackson says:

    This is a thought provoking post, and while we may lament the things we wish we’d done, there’s the other side of the coin as well. Lord knows there are many decisions I’ve made, and things I’ve done, that I wish I had not. Either way, I think your advice is well taken, to sit back and reflect on what’s important in your life now. Kids grow up fast, tomorrow is not guaranteed, and each day is a gift to be shared with the ones you love.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Jan, ah yes, the flip side. That’s another post for another day. But you are so right, none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. It’s important to live intentionally, every day. So, enjoy today!!

  6. Ilona Fridl says:

    Great post, Connie! I think the secret to woulda, coulda, shoulda, is to keep everything in balance. Write some, do chores some, and interact with friends and family some. Everything is important.

  7. Laura Kirkland says:

    This reminded me of that perfume commercial from years ago, featuring the woman who could “bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan,” and still have time for her man. That was the start of the era in which women were told they could do anything, but I think it was also resulted in a generation of women who felt like they had to do everything. You’re absolutely right in recognizing that we can’t do everything, and we need to remember that just because we have more options open to us than we did in years past, we don’t need to exercise all of them. Choose what’s most important, and focus your time there. Thanks for the great post!

    • Connie Mann says:

      Laura, I think you’re so right–just because the option is there, doesn’t mean it’s right for us. Or right for us right now…glad you enjoyed it!