As I mentioned, I have just recently bought a house and put all of my stuff in the house or adjacent to the house. People keep asking me about the house. I'm always tempted to respond, "it's gonna be great... once I change everything." It's not that the house is bad. The house is entirely serviceable and serves its housely functions admirably for the house it is. I'm telling you, though, I have plans for this place. It's gonna be so great and so amazing and so perfect. When I'm done replacing everything. I mean, everything is possible.
Thing about my grand goals is that there is no way that I can make them all happen at once. I don't have the time or the money or the will to make it all happen right this moment. What I can do is plan, do what I can right now, set the stage for the future. For instance, after I paint and put out the room-sized carpet, I'll feel a lot better and be able to move in. Even that, though, is a temporary solution, because I'm going to have to move everything out to put in the wood floors later. I'm getting new appliances, but I might have to get different things when I remodel the kitchen. Each step, though, each step, even if it seems slightly off direction, is a step toward the goal, toward the Great House which I've got my target on.
The same happens in our organizations. We have great plans for our programs, our institutions, even our organizational culture. It's impossible to take it all out and put in a new one. We work with what we've got, and there are always limitations. But one step at a time we make changes to ourselves, our plans, and the circumstances. I see three main things that I, personally, have to focus on to keep my heart happy and my eyes on the prize.
1) know your capacity
Part of what we have to do to live with what we've got right now is what Erin talked about, knowing what we can and can't do and setting the stage for success where we're able. I (probably) can't fix everything in my house. I really don't want to spend a week in my crawlspace changing the plumbing. But I can make my goals clear to a plumber. I can also talk to the strategic planning committee about what I think would work best for our organization, and let them do the rest.
2) do what you can; track progress
Just because you can't do everything now doesn't mean you can't do anything. It is essential to keep moving forward with intent. Even if you keep running (sometimes literally) into walls. Take small steps. When things go exactly like you'd planned they'd go in the ideal library, shout for joy and tell the world. When I finish the new deck you know I'm having a big big party. Look at what we've done, how far we've come. More to go, but much has been done.
3) be patient
Things. Take. Time.
You can't do everything. You are one person. You have to sleep.
I remind myself constantly to be patient with, well, everything.
People take time, thinking takes time, changing takes time. Figure out how to work on it in a way that builds, but also builds capacity for more change. Figure out how to reward yourself or your organization for the progress you've made. Know that you can only do so much, and that that is okay. Because if you fail trying to do too much, you're further behind than when you started and heartbroken too. So do what you can. And take a deep breath.
I found myself staring at the piles of things in my garage for who knows how long the other day. I have almost no idea how I'm going to get to the house I see in my mind from what exists in reality. I know that I will get there, though, because I mean to. It will take a while, but it is starting now, and I get to be here to watch it happen.