How can I not feel guilty about all the things I didn’t do?

“How can I not feel guilty about all the things I didn’t do?” Ensign, Jan. 1978, 17

Even though I’m careful to organize and budget my time, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the good things I ought to do. No matter what I accomplish, I feel guilty about all the things I didn’t do!

Kathie Johnston Brough, Relief Society Education Counselor, Livermore First Ward, Pleasanton California Stake I know the feeling: you finish with Christmas shopping and wonder why you never found time to help with the community Sub-for-Santa project!

It seems there was a clause in the free agency portion of our contract that said that not only would we have to make decisions between bad and good, but also we would have some tough decisions to make between good and better!

My husband and I have found a system that helps keep us from getting discouraged about the fact that there are only twenty-four hours in a day. We can’t do everything. But if we get our priorities straight, we can be happy about what we can do.

Every four to six weeks we set aside part of our family home evening to review our long-term priorities and set some immediate goals. We chose the Relief Society program as a model, dividing our long-range priorities into four categories: Spiritual Living, Social Relations, Homemaking/Home Improving, and Cultural/Intellectual/Physical Refinement. Another good framework would be the Personal and Family Preparedness program of Church Welfare Services. (See June 1977 Ensign, pp. 6–9.) Whatever your approach, your overall goals should help maintain balance in your life and really represent what is most important to you, and I believe you should seek the guidance of the Spirit in setting them. After we had selected our categories, we listed some general objectives: for example, under “Spiritual Living” we listed, “Increase familiarity with scriptures; keep the Sabbath; improve personal relationship with Heavenly Father; do work for the dead.”

At each review session we decide when our next review date will be—four to six weeks away—and then write down the specific goals we want to achieve in each area before that review date. Often one goal can meet more than one general objective: inviting a new family in the ward to go to the temple with us helps us improve in Spiritual Living—and also helps with our Social Relations goal to fellowship new ward members.

Using this system hasn’t added any hours to our days, but it has added satisfaction. There is more meaning in washing a window when you have planned to do it as part of your goal to become a better homemaker. And it is easier to accept a dirty window when you remember that you weighed your priorities and temple attendance came out ahead of window washing.

There will never be enough hours in anyone’s day to work on every good thing. The criterion for being happy with today’s accomplishments is that you have worked on the most important goal for that day—and that you will do something each month toward maintaining your true priorities. The satisfaction of reviewing your accomplishments each six weeks also helps wipe out the discouragements we all experience.

The most important thing is to write down your goals and set a definite time, not too distant, to review them. Then concentrate on your plans for this review period: those other pressing projects are for next time!