I promise, I’m not a controlling person!

In order for you to have a home that’s working while avoiding becoming a controlling person, you need to define the difference between a goal and a desire.

Goals are things you control. Desires are things you do not control. Desires require someone else’s cooperation. (My mom taught me this! Moms know best!)

For example: it’s my goal to go to the grocery store. I control it. I get a pad of paper, I make a list of what I need. I get my keys and my purse and I drive myself there. I come home and I put it away. It was a goal. A small goal. I controlled it. I decided it and it required no one else’s input.

In contrast, it is a desire that everyone loves the meal I made. While I can work hard to prepare tasty ingredients, the ultimate decision is out of my hands. How many times have I made the most delicious brussel sprouts and one 5 year old that should remain nameless just won’t love them like I do?!


When you let go of desires and instead, set goals, you become the least controlling person. Most people who keep a tidy home or who “have their act together” are usually coupled with the negative assumptions that their tasks are more important than people.

I actually found the opposite to be true. I prepare the home to care for the people I love. Home is just the grid in which I actually do it.

I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t be a controlling person. Good news is, that was a goal! It was fully accomplishable on my own by managing the relationship I have with myself.

By focusing on my goals and what I’m doing, I get to be a happy bystander in my home unaffected by what someone else is doing.


If it’s a toddler having a meltdown, I can’t control that. I can communicate and decide what I’m going to do in response and I can remind him he has other choices, but it’s not my goal to parent a child that never melts down.

If that was my goal and I was yelling and threatening all day long so that every child understand that I expect compliance with this goal……well, I might need to rethink my goal.

I don’t get to decide that. I don’t make choices for anyone else but myself. It could be a desire. (After 4 kids, I have realized that somewhere around 80% good behavior is more realistic and kids are just kids.) But, even so…letting go of desires and setting small controllable goals for myself has been more helpful.


Large or small, what kinds of goals are you setting? I hope this distinction between a goal and a desire helps you as much as it did me! Leave a comment and I’d love to hear your thoughts.


For more on goals and desires, see Chapter 9 in This Thing Called Home. Available on Amazon in paperback and ebook http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IYT9EH8


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