Trading up

Trading up

I once heard a story about a little girl who loved pearls. She had a long string of the fakest pearls around, but that fact did nothing to diminish her love. One day her daddy came up to her and randomly asked if she would give him her string of pearls to keep. She looked very confused and said no. This happened for several weeks until finally with tears in her eyes she handed over her cheap, plastic pearls that she loved and said, “Daddy, it hurts, but if you want them you can have them.” The daddy gave her a big hug, ran from the room, and was back in a flash holding a black velvet box in his hand. He held it out to his, now wide eyed, daughter who reached out with trembling hands. As she cracked open the box she let out a gasp, there in front of her was a beautiful strand of real pearls. She didn’t know, but they were the best quality the daddy could find and cost a great deal. The only thing she knew is that her daddy had given her a wonderful gift that far surpassed what she had given up. The daddy looked down at his now very happy little girl and said, “I’m so glad you were willing to give up those old pearls so I could give you these!”

I’ve been thinking about trading up today. This morning, as I was trying not to talk myself back to sleep instead of the gym, I contemplated the benefits of sleep over exercise. However, about 30 minutes later while working out, I realized how good I felt and how glad I was that I went.

It’s called “reframing”. So often we only see a part of the situation, the “now” part. Working out hurts, putting others first is inconvenient, studying is boring but the pay off for doing these things is well worth it. The problem is that it is very difficult to keep the end result front and center at all times. Especially in situations that we don’t actually know what the end result is. Who knows, you may put all that work into it and never reap the benefits.

Reframing begins by having long term goals for the future. These can be slightly less specific such as: I would like to get married and have a family, I would like to have good relationships with my extended family, I would like to have a steady job, I would like to own a house, I would like to go to the mission field, etc. These are general goals that will give you direction for your life.

Once you have your goals, the next step is to determine how those goals are best reached. If your goal is to be a doctor, your first step is going to be working hard in high school, getting into a good college, and staying focused on your studies. You will probably need to take out loans for this process and work a part time job, spending wisely so you can save some money. If your goal is to get married and have a family, you should work toward getting ready for that task. What kind of spouse do you want to be, be very specific. Do you want to be the kind of person your spouse and kids can trust, respect, and come to when times are tough? Do you know how to set up and keep on a budget? How about cooking? Have you learned how to communicate with people and keep up good relationships? At this stage specifics are very helpful.

Next, identify actions or situations that will interfere with those goals. Using the same two examples: If you want to be a doctor what are some things that will interfere with that goal? Goofing off in high school and college, getting into drugs and alcohol, and spending time and money on too much entertainment. If you want to get married and have a family what are some things that will get in the way of that? Dating for fun and accumulating tons of baggage, making poor choices about sex, developing a selfish mentality, spending all of your time on yourself.

Once you have your goals, plans, and possible pitfalls you are prepared to make conscious decisions today.

If you have a bit of spare time check out this message called “The unending appetite for stew” which talks about this topic of reframing in more detail as well as some other awesome thoughts.

What are your goals and how do you work toward them?