Just Do One Thing


I am a self-help junkie. Ever since I discovered the phrase “personal development” in college, I’ve been hooked on reading all the books that are supposed to change your life. Home organization, fitness, mental health, you name it, I guarantee you I’ve read a book about it.

However, as great as this information is, sometimes it can feel overwhelming. Every book is about something new I’m “supposed” to do. 

Don’t lose your temper with your kids.

Always do the dishes.

Move your body every day.

Eat vegetables and get eight hours of sleep every night.

We’ve heard it all. There is a laundry list of activities, chores, and meditations we are responsible for taking on each day. Even worse, if we don’t complete each and every task we end up feeling like utter failures.

Recently I heard someone say, “you can do all the things just fine or do a few things well.” It made me think about how I create new goals each month, taking on all the things. 

I want to be a nicer mom.

I want to keep a clean house.

I want to exercise, eat right, and get enough sleep.

I want to do all the things. 

But maybe that’s where I’ve got it wrong. I have an “all or nothing” mentality so if I can’t tackle each area of my life all at once and get it all perfect the first time, I’m a failure. Right?


Nobody can do all the things all at once. And it is foolish of me to think that I can recreate my whole life in one go. So I’m only doing one thing. 

Don’t misunderstand. I’m still going to make dinner and try to keep up with the dishes, but I’m only going to have one goal at a time. It could be making a habit of folding the laundry as soon as it comes out of the dryer (seriously why is this such a pain?). It could be going on a walk every day that the sun is shining.

But I’m done stressing myself out trying to revamp my entire existence every time I read a new self-help book. 

I’m going to learn to be okay with letting dishes pile up or let the bed stay unmade if it means improving one area of my life at a time. Because the secret to personal development is this: Do one thing at a time and everything else will fall into place.

I’ve seen it happen to other people in my life and for once I’m going to make it evident in my own life. Once you master one thing, you move onto the next. That’s how we all learn new skills and habits. If we try to do all the things we end up burnt out and frustrated. 

So here’s to only having one goal at a time. And maybe reading some fiction instead of another self-help book.

What kind of goals do you set for yourself?

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Kelsey Arender
Kelsey Arender is a Lexington native who fell in love with her work in libraries in 2012. Prior to her recent career change, you could find her at the public library's children department. Now, she happily works in a middle school library. On the weekends, Kelsey and her husband, William, enjoy watching reruns of their favorite TV shows, attending church, and reading with their one-year-old daughter. Kelsey's favorite things include endless mugs of coffee, cozy sweaters, rainy days, and laughing with friends. She may be an introvert but if you start a conversation about personality types, toddlers, or hygge, you'll make a fast friend. You can find her hanging on Instagram at @we_all_get_sleepy.



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