If you’ve never seen the show “Mom”, the quick summary is:
Drug/alcohol addict Mom, has a daughter (Christie) who becomes and alcoholic as well. Christie has a daughter Violet (who may or may not become an alcoholic) and a younger son. Violet becomes pregnant out of wedlock and gives the baby up for adoption.
Violet and Christie go visit the family who adopted Violet’s baby. It’s a “perfect life” for the child.
Violet becomes upset, and when prompted by her mom, she states (I’m paraphrasing):
“I gave her up so that she could have a better life, and she’s going to get it.
I gave her up so that I could have a better life too. And now I have no excuses. Now I HAVE to do something with my life.
But what if I fail? I should have kept her and been a failure, and everyone would feel sorry for me.”
I do think Violet said that last line a little sarcastically, but mostly, not.
We all have what Jon Acuff calls a “noble obstacles” in his book Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done. An excuse that, on the surface, seems like a great thing, but in reality, it just an excuse we use because we’re too scared to do what we (theoretically) would be doing without that obstacle. For Violet, she’s sort of wishing she still had that noble obstacle of using her baby as an excuse as to why she “can’t” make her life better.
For some, “I can’t start my own business because I won’t get to spend enough time with my kids”. For others, “I can’t go back to college because I won’t see my husband enough and he’ll be mad”.
“Until” and “if…then” are big tattle tales as to what your own noble obstacle is:
- Until I’m done raising these kids to college age, I can’t focus on my own health.
- Until I lose 20lb, I can’t go to the gym because all the skinny people will laugh at me.
- If I start an exercise program, then I won’t have time for anything else.
- If I start my own business, then I’ll be working 20 hours a day and my family will disown me and I’ll develop a Red Bull addiction
Finances are a big noble obstacle:
- I can’t eat (more) healthy because Taco Bell is cheaper than free range eggs and grass-fed beef.
- I never fold laundry because I don’t have time, and I can’t afford a live-in maid.
They are excuses, manifesting in several ways. They all create a scenario where only 2 extremes exist, and rarely is that ever the case. We use them as reasons to avoid doing the hard things that ultimately will make our life easier. We KNOW it will, but hard things are, well, hard! And bigger goals are scary!
It takes courage to identify these self-imposed obstacles , and even more courage to admit we’re just scared – scared of failure, scared of some hard work that might not produce the results we think, just…scared.
But if we’re ever going to make our life better, make it what we deserve, the only one who can do that is us. Me. You.
What are your Noble Obstacles, and what are they keeping you from doing?