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I am currently summarising the Covey book ‘Marriage Family; Gospel and Insights’ for the forum on http://www.stephencovey.com, and in the opening chapter of his half of the book Stephen writes:

‘There is a common problem in only focusing on the ideal (i.e. in focusing on the dream and not the immediate reality – my summary DP). A false dichotomy is set up. A dichotomy means either/or. Its fault is that it doesn’t reflect the full reality. When people separate the abstract and the concrete, the ideal and the real, many end up frustrated. Although they may be temporarily ‘psyched’, even inspired, by a description of the ideal they come to see themselves falling terribly short of it; in their mind the distance between the ideal and their own performance is so great that they feel the ideal to be an unreachable goal for them, that in a fundamental way they are incapable of attaining it.’

So this shows us why some people ask the question – “is my ideal ‘so’ ideal that it is impossible to attain and, if so – why even try?”

I wonder if that is where I sit. I need to lose 4 stone. I read of athletes and housewives who have achieved this. I know it can be done, and (with all due respect to those who have achieved it) in some cases I am more intelligent than some successful dieters (at least on paper!).

So I set out to diet and exercise. Then an injury occurs, or we go out to a party meal, and suddenly it’s too hard a goal, or I can start again tomorrow, or I’m really not that round and I’m carrying it well (bad eyesight helps).

Is the answer to perhaps make an ‘ideal’ less so, working towards a lesser goal until it is achieved and then ‘starting tomorrow’ on the next ‘ideal’ step that is just a little bit closer to the ultimate ideal? This attitude or approach makes that bridge between real and ideal more of a plank or pontoon than the Golden Gate! Baby steps.

I am close to retiring and intend to spend just a little bit of time working towards my ideal before I look for a new paid role. When that space between jobs happens, I will be totally responsible for my own environment, and the working atmosphere with its propensity for convenience foods won’t be there as an excuse (reason) any more, and I won’t have the ‘tired after work’ excuse, either. If I start to create the ideal (sorry, best) home environment possible to serve my intention I will be more likely to achieve that goal – my first baby step towards the ultimate ideal, so to speak.

And maybe just being aware of the false dichotomy will better prepare me to address it?

Ultimately, there is an ideal, but reality sits within it. Life can get in the way, or life can be what we do on the way. The latter is the best approach!

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