I posted this status on my personal Facebook page last week:
As I said in the post, I’m not some sort of super-genius, I am relentless. I work and work until I get it. But I think what got me really thinking afterwards about the post was the number of people who liked and commented on it – about 30 – enough to make me stop and think some more: Why do people give up before they’ve even begun?
I have a couple of ideas.
I think we suffer from an overabundance of information.
You read that correctly: Too much information. We are plugged into our news, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn accounts. Our phones are constantly dinging with alerts and when we have a question, we Google it. Certainly someone has answered it somewhere in the history of the internet. For information junkies, it’s a paradise…but it can also be a quagmire of inaction. I’ve heard the term, “Analysis Paralysis” so many times in the last couple of years that I think it’s becoming a thing: An excuse to not get moving.
How is this an excuse?
It’s when we say to ourselves, “I’m going to do this because I think it will help people and make money.” Then we find out that someone is already doing it and so we decide that niche is already filled and don’t do anything further. We have quit before we begun. The reality is different though. The reality is that each person is unique in their approach, and by differentiating just a little, we can open ourselves up to even greater success in many areas of life.
I’m not immune to this myself. I’ve been known to research something until the cows came home before I was willing to do something. But over the years I’ve learned that by just getting up and doing something, I could achieve more than by dreaming. I’ve also learned that by shutting off as many phone reminders as possible, I can think without being interrupted by its incessant dings. I can separate a little from the digital world so that things in the real world can get done. I’ve also learned that sometimes, you need to jump before you look. Don’t research until you’re satisfied, do research until you have a basic understanding of what it takes to be successful in the given field.
How does this apply to homeschooling?
On the surface it doesn’t seem to apply, does it? But it does. It applies because when we start thinking about maybe, possibly homeschooling, we think that we should learn as much as we can about it before we start. In some ways, this is true: We need to learn the laws of the state in which we live so we can be “legal.” We need to have a basic understanding of the requirements, of what it takes to work with our kids to help them learn and succeed. In other ways though, we really need to jump before we look. We know our kids better than anyone else… at least we should. We should know (or be willing to learn) what they like to learn about, what they like to explore, and some basic interests, and use this as a jumping off point.
No homeschooler ever knew everything before they started, but all had the tools to acquire the knowledge they needed.
Many of us change jobs so frequently that we have gotten used to quitting and moving on.
While I’m certainly no advocate of staying in a job that makes you miserable, there’s also something that happens when you become accustomed to quitting. You get comfortable giving up in other areas too. Tired of cleaning up after the cat? Get rid of the cat. Don’t like doing something? Just stop doing it. Don’t like your boss? Just quit.
One word of caution: You should never stay in an abusive situation. I grew up in that, and so I will never tell a person who is being abused by anyone that they should just stick it out. Ever. In fact, I’ll be happy to help kick that abusive person to the curb. My bio-father was an abusive, philandering drunk, who made threats about what he would do to and with us and my mom, if she ever left. She stayed until we were old enough to find our way home if he ever made good on those threats. But staying in that is a horrible example to set for your children, if it can be avoided, because they need to see you standing tall. But I also understand how difficult it is to get out – so please just understand that I’m not talking about that sort of situation.
That said, we have some societal issues that seem to be getting out of hand.
We’ve become very pleasure-oriented.
I’m the first one to say that you should find something you love and do it to the best of your ability. This can mean anything from being a homemaker, raising and educating your kids to teaching music, cleaning pools or whatever. The “what” doesn’t matter, the thing that matters is that when you love to do something you’re bound to be good at it. I would much rather take lessons from a teacher who loves what they do than one who only does it to pay the bills. I will happily hang with a person who decided their life’s calling is to raise their family and does it with joy. I will not however, hang with someone who hates what they do, and does nothing but complain.
Venting about a rough day is normal and healthy – the ability to let it go and move on is vital.
We sometimes lack the staying power that our parents possessed.
I will stand by the idea that you should do what you love to my dying breath…but sometimes you have to get a job done that just… well… sucks. That’s where our parents’ generation comes in – their lessons of fortitude and resilience are as valuable today as they were yesterday. Sticking something out long enough to give it a true, fair chance to succeed is a trait that we can’t oversell. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs, farmers and warriors… professions that require a certain amount of fortitude, so I know something of what’s required here.
Homeschooling isn’t a short-term solution, it’s something you get into for the long-haul because it’s about your kids. Whether you continue to homeschool from year to year is a different issue, but the big picture is the overall health and education of your children. Homeschooling isn’t right for everyone, but those who begin should be aware that every day isn’t sunshine and rainbows, and I certainly don’t smile all day long. Sometimes I look like Gollum. Others Galadriel. You just never know.
Are there days when my kids seem to do nothing but argue with me? Yes.
Are there days when I fear that the magazine will never grow to be as helpful and successful as I know it can be? Yes.
Are there days when I just want to throw in the towel? Yes.
Those are the days when I have to look at the “big picture.” A difficult task for a person like me who is obsessed with details, but no less important.
Those are the days when I stop to take the time to remember why I do all those things I do, to remember why we homeschool, what makes those twin boys who drive me crazy amazing human beings. Those also seem to be the days that my older son (24) or daughter (22) calls out of the blue just to say hi.
Those are the days that I go back to the letters and emails I’ve received from readers, the notes that tell me that I really am doing good, and I really do help people… even if I never get to meet them in person. That’s why I do this whole magazine thing – to help. Without readers, it’s not worth doing. I need to hear from you – sad? Maybe. But it’s the truth.
How do you keep going when things are hard?
One word: Relentless.
Be relentless in your pursuit of knowledge.
Be relentless in your efforts to grow and lead the way for your children.
Be relentless in your faith in yourself, in your ability to overcome obstacles.
Be relentless in your efforts to improve things for your family and those of your community – and do it without getting government involved wherever possible. I’m not anti-government, but something special happens when you interact face-to-face with those whom you’re helping. Helping is addictive… in a good way… and those you help see that a real, live, person cares about them enough to help.
Being relentless isn’t about being cruel, or unforgiving. It’s about being sure of yourself and your ability to continue despite whatever odds are stacked against you. It’s about having an unwavering faith that you were destined to be great at something. And it’s about passing that faith in yourself on to your kids so that they too can become relentless.
So go on, moms and dads…