I was introduced to the analogy in an online class I’ve been taking (rarefaith.org).

When we set goals for ourselves, it is so important to focus our desired outcome rather than the steps needed to achieve the outcome. More specifically, we need to focus on the emotions that will exist when we achieve that outcome.

Here’s the analogy: imagine that you have an arrow with a long string attached to the end of it. You walk to your target, stick the arrow right in the bull’s eye, and then walk back the length of the string. Now you follow the string to reach the target. It doesn’t matter if you move to one side or another, because the string is attached and will eventually lead you to where you want and need to be. You may not walk a straight line at all! And it doesn’t matter.

Put this in context of reaching your goal as a family and as a parent. Your “target” may be something relatively short-term, such as seeing your child actually pass his classes graduate from high school. It may be something more long-term, such as having him be gainfully employed and supporting a family as an adult. (I’m not going to lie, there are times I wonder about this possibility.) It may be a relatively simple target, such as having him initiate a real hug. And it may be a complex target, such as feeling like you have a close, meaningful relationship with her.

Do you know your target? Visualize it in detail in your mind. I’m serious. Sit down right now, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and create an image of your target. Include all your senses, like you would for any deep meditation. Now how do you feel? Don’t say it in words. Just feel it. (You might start crying, because it feels so good.)

Wait a second. Do you hear your brain telling you this is an impossibility? This will never happen? There are simply too many obstacles for this target to be reached? Shush that thought. You know that anything can be accomplished through Christ’s power. ANYTHING. You believe that. Now let’s live it.

Stay in this thought. Stay with the feeling. Repeat it multiple times a day. Now, you see, it doesn’t matter what steps you take to get there. You have identified and secured the target and you will get there. Keep moving forward and the Lord will guide your path. He will steer the car. He will prompt you and direct you to know what to say and what to do each day. You may not even recognize His gentle guidance. But it is there.

Don’t lose faith! Keep visualizing. Keep focusing on the feeling. It may take years, but staying calm and focusing on the end goal will ensure you will get there.

You’ve got this.