Choosing a goal in the middle of chaos

One of our Guided Mindset Mastery students sent me a message years ago and asked me to keep it private.

But just recently, she gave me permission to share it after all.

She had been battling some pretty heavy life challenges, and I know that, even though many of the challenges are behind her now, she is not the only one to wrestle with such heavy burdens.

So with her permission, I’m sharing our interaction for those who may relate to her story, and who may benefit from our conversation:

Figuring out how to use Rare Faith in Heavy Situations

Before I share this interaction, I want to tell you it has a happy ending. Jimi Teague later graduated with Honors from the Mindset Mastery program and went on to become a program facilitator. What follows is just a snapshot in time, early on in her journey.

Her full story is so inspiring, if you ever get a chance to take a class with her, do it!

Anyway, back then… she wrote:

Hi Leslie,

As we start the Guided Mindset Mastery course I have been thinking about what goals I will set and I’m stumped.

I thought I wanted to reach a certain level in my company. That’s a clear goal with clear steps to take. However I have been in that company for 4 years and have found no desire to build a business. I need to due to finances and this company is sturdy, been around forever, a Christian based company. Solid comp Plan.

I use the products daily and they really are helpful. I have actual friends at high levels doing very well so I know it’s doable. Etc. I also sell another health and wellness product that I love and am passionate about but the business is not ran the best and I don’t feel good about having other people join it. Great product crappy business plan. The problem is me.

I have a past of trauma and chaos.

Inconsistency is the only thing consistent about my life. I have 4 kids ages 23, 21, 18, and 10. The oldest just graduated from college. The next is in basic training. The 10 year old is gifted. Homeschooled and a joy to be around. His father and I have been happily together all his life and he knows an entirely different world than my older children. He was just baptized and became a member of the church in December.


The 18 year old suffers from mental illness and has been in and out of treatment facilities for 6 years. Her illness makes her hate me and want to never leave my side while feeling the need to defy everything I ask her to do, but I’m her best friend because she does this in all her relationships and pushes good people away because she is afraid of abandonment. So she feels the need to at all times cause drama and chaos in her life to keep people close to her.

More mental illness in the family

It’s EXHAUSTING. Her bio father had mental illness and was and is abusive. The kids were taken away from him for abuse repeatedly by the state but then giving back unsupervised visits after a series of supervised counseling sessions where he behaved. A few months later there would be abuse and the state would take them away. Each time he would tell the kids it was their fault and he wanted nothing to do with them.

A few months later he would sue me for full custody and we would start the process over again and again. That was their entire childhood. The children’s abuse became so bad- requiring a trip to the hospital- that the judge finally stepped in and court ordered no further contact with dad until they were 18.

Autoimmune disease on top of it all

My daughter immediately developed an auto immune disease. She spent the next 3 years in the hospital a min of 3 days a week trying to figure out what was going on and how to help her. She was constantly in pain and fatigued. She could no longer attend school and became very depressed.

We added antidepressants which made her suicidal and she was hospitalized. She spent the next 6 years in and out of the mental hospital. She came home this past April with no transition or plan and turned 18 in August.

During this time I became a zombie. I have lived in a state of organized chaos and fear for my children. The younger 3 have Aspergers and the added trauma so we had countless hours of therapy of all sorts. I homeschooled while working nights and weekends on side jobs and was the full time caregiver for my husbands grandfather with Alzheimer’s.

I have no idea how I did it all.

My planners from those years are amazing. The entire time I felt like I was falling apart. I was never good enough. Never happy. Constantly afraid. And in debt. Always in debt. The constant lawyers fees for custody took way more than the child support we received. My house was a disaster. I could never keep up with the housework. There were 6 people living in a 900 square foot house and my husbands mother had passed away and he lived with her when she passed so he inherited the home.

Everything of hers stayed exactly where it was and we weren’t allowed to move or touch her belongings. So we moved myself and 3 small children into a shrine of trinkets and glass. It was a nightmare. I just turned into a blob.

The entire time I kept trying to build a business. Learning. Personal growth. I learned and learned and went to meetings and trainings and invested but never made a dime. I never actually tried to sell anything. I really just loved the learning and training part but never took action on building or selling.

I have been a member of the church for 23 years but mostly inactive. My husband is not a member and my 3 youngest children are members completely by their own choosing because I was never an example of being a member.

Our home burnt and we lost everything 4 years ago and we moved and now have a huge beautiful home that we both love.

(I really want a dog in the house but his mother had dogs that destroyed everything and soiled everything. Destroyed walls and floors etc in the old house so he basically has PTSD about dogs in the house and so I had an inside dog at the old house but I’m not allowed to have an inside dog in this house. Side note. But that’s something I really want.)

I also feel like I have another baby waiting in heaven and I mentally think that’s crazy but it’s the only thing that stirs me emotionally. I really want another baby. My husband and I have both dreamed about her for years but neither of us are ready for a baby. We are 41 years old and have 3 adult children. It’s crazy. But I would really like to get my body in shape to have another baby.

I went into labor at 4.5 months with my son and was on complete bed rest for 4.5 months. It was hard and we almost lost us both in delivery so my husband for many really good reasons does not want another child. And he’s also afraid we might have another mentally ill child. But I feel like it’s something I need to do. Like she’s a part of my plan and that urge feels stronger every day. Almost like I miss her. Like I really really miss her but I’ve obviously never met her.

So getting my body ready and building a business so that I can financially feel good about having another baby. That inspires me.

Also my house. We put our house on the market and then took it off after several months but in the mean time it was show ready at all times. It was amazing but I have a ton of things hidden in weird places that I need to organize and get rid of. I need to let go of a lot of stuff. I’m also a hoarder and have gotten rid of so much but that is another huge goal. To actually get everything organized not just appealing to people walking by but what feels good in my heart. And where we might be able to find things, lol.

Today we are going to visit a facility for my daughter. It has came to the point that she is making it so hard on the rest of the family that it isn’t fair to anyone and she is miserable and she needs more than I can provide at home. My son left today to go back to basic training after the holiday break and my oldest is going to Army training and will be gone for a year.

My husband is quitting his job of 17 years to start his own business with a friend that we trust. It’s a good move for our family but it will mean him traveling and being home maybe a couple days a week and there is no guarantee that he will get paid. It’s completely self employed and really scary after a steady government job for 17 years. The stable government job just can’t pay our bills.

This is ALL happening in the next 2 weeks.

I’m overwhelmed.

I thought this course was going to be an easy goal of hitting a decently hard level in my company. That was my goal but now with so much going on I’m unsure if I should focus on something else?

I wanted to achieve a level where you’ve built structure and it’s pretty stable and a decent income. I feel like that’s still a good goal. A goal to keep me grounded while all this is going on but I need so much healing and grace. I’m not in a good place. I’m exhausted.

Do I focus on self healing? Seeking Heavenly Father? Organizing my home and life? My physical body since I’m so exhausted and just need rest and a meal plan and probably exercise? All basic needs that I really need to accomplish and have been working on my entire life.

I am also still homeschooling the 10 year old and it will just be he and I soon and we need a consistent daily routine and just structure and peace and just time to heal and breathe. But I have to build a business. For my sanity. For my faith in my self. I have to do it to prove to myself that I can and we desperately need the money too. I think that I have not been building a business for over 20 years and the idea of being successful scares the tar outta me. As crazy as that sounds.

Everything has to change for that to happen. I have to truly heal for that to happen.

I have to let go of all I believe to be true about myself because of my past behaviors and I have to change. It’s what I want and need but I’m very afraid that I can’t. Each time I’ve gotten close, my ex sued me or hurt the children or my daughter has a breakdown or someone gets sick or someone dies and my life and my goals have to stop and go on hold to take care of other people.

I don’t know how to push through and make MY goals my priority. I mean I’m a mom? I’m a caretaker. But my life has to change?

I just felt like I needed to share this with you. I don’t talk to people. I don’t share what’s going on in our lives because it’s really hard and mental illness is taboo and we just don’t talk about it. But I really need to make a change. I really want to move forward and I don’t know how. I really believe this course can help me break free?

Sooooo. I’m just not sure what my goal should be exactly. How to I break it down? Is there a podcast or an article or a few lol somewhere that would help?

Thank you, Jimi

My Response:

Jimi, these are all really good questions. I’m so sorry you’ve been carrying such a heavy load for so long.

I have a friend who may have some thoughts that might help you decide how to approach the program this time around. She knows the program intimately, she’s dealt with mental illnesses in her family (and in herself), and she has either personally experienced, or helped others who have experienced, a lot of the other challenges you’re dealing with. Do you mind if I share your email with her and see what she has to say?

I would greatly appreciate that! Thank you!

So, I reached out to my friend…

Hi _________!

We have a student who could use some extra help knowing what her goal for Mindset Mastery should be. She was on Lesson 1 (or 2), which asks her what her objective is. She needs to figure out which of her many needs should be the focus for this course. Of course, ALL of her needs and goals being met is the ultimate goal, but when the program guides her to choose which ONE objective for which she’ll use for the phase 2 “meaningful” (Rare Faith) experiment, we need to explore which area of her life might be the most reasonable to address in her condition, and the one which might help the bigger picture the most.

(For those not familiar with the Mindset Mastery program, it first guides her to experiment with something inconsequential. Then it guides her to pick the bigger goal, and identify a bite-sized piece of that goal, to which she’ll apply the Rare Faith principles. I tend to be most inclined to help people with the financial side. But since all these other things are pulling her under, she really needs to experience the Rare Faith principles working in one of her more immediate non-financial needs.)

I then related Jimi’s situation to my friend, and here was her response:

Having read through the list of struggles she is dealing with, I definitely have some thoughts…

Imagine with me that you have a really big goal. Losing 50 pounds. Starting your own business. Remodeling your home. Maybe even finishing your college degree. These are all lofty and very worthy goals, but if I walked over and held your head under water so you couldn’t breathe, how focused and effective would you be at accomplishing them? Not very.

When the world seems to be caving in on you through sickness, unemployment, mental illness, a move into a new area, or a new job, it might feel a little like drowning. In all honesty, it probably feels a LOT like drowning. Setting audacious goals during such times can be rather defeating. And for good reason. In such moments what you really need is, perhaps, not what you think it is. You hope for more money. More prestige. A better job. A skinny body. And yet, the most important thing you need in this very moment is simple. To breathe.

So how do you breathe?

First, and foremost, you’ve got to remove the hand that’s pushing you under the water.

What is that hand for you? What is the pressure that is keeping you down? Get rid of those things.

I’m on a family outing. Let me ponder. She just has enough garbage that I could see her having one win and getting dragged under again and failing. So I was hoping to deter her from doing a big business goal when she’s wrapped around the axle. But a smaller financial win with paying an upcoming bill would be good.

Later she emailed me again with some additional thoughts:

I’ve been pondering this situation today. …I reviewed her e-mail again, and I’m looking for clues directly from her.

  1. “Getting my body ready and building a business so that I can financially feel good about having another baby.That inspires me.”
  2. She talked about how much she loves her new house and how she knows she needs to get rid of all her extra stuff. (Of course this is a reflection of her state of mind — all the stuff that needs to be physically removed from her life.)
  3. Do I focus on self healing? Seeking Heavenly Father? Organizing my home and life? My physical body since I’m so exhausted and just need rest and a meal plan and probably exercise? All basic need that I really need to accomplish and have been working on my entire life.
  4. Homeschooling – we need a consistent daily routine and just structure and peace and just time to heal and breathe. But I have to build my business. For my sanity. For my faith in my self. I have to do it to prove to myself that I can and we desperately need the money too….I have to truly heal for that to happen.

Going off of Jimi’s clues, she added:

Here are my thoughts about Jimi’s goals the way she stated them:

  • Getting her body prepared and ready to have another baby “inspires her.” That’s big.
  • Her need for organization is huge because it’s a reflection of what’s happening in her mind.
  • She specifically brings up her priorities … self healing, seeking God, organizing her home and life and her physical body
  • She needs a daily routine, structure and peace, and time to heal

Then … “I have to build my business.” This is the only one that I see being fear based or feeling dictated to or maybe even feeling a loss of agency.

Knowing what it looks like to deal with the family mental issues, I personally was not in a place to reach big business goals (which I have had) until my mind was in a place of belief and positivity. I had to clean out the negative self talk first and foremost.

When I did Mindset Mastery, I began with inconsequential things … like having the UPS man stop by to help my day go more smoothly. This did not affect the state of the nation.

My second goal was business related – but it was to get ten new customers by a certain time. And I succeeded. It was great. But I had to spend a lot of time after that taking care of “housekeeping” in my head and in my heart in order to stay on top of financial goals.

Personally, after reading through the priorities she has written for herself – I would be choosing a variation from one of the following:

  1. Self healing (specifically cleaning the negativity out of her head and life)
  2. Seeking Heavenly Father
  3. Organizing home and life
  4. Goals with physical body

I then passed my friend’s message along to Jimi and she replied with a new update:

Since I received this we have been trying to get my daughter into a group home and after driving 300 miles and waiting for 2 days her insurance denied it. She has to go into an adult lock down facility so we are working on that.

My uncle picked up a homeless person and was held at gunpoint, brutally beaten, zip tied and left for dead. He managed to get to help and is in the hospital and going to be ok, but we are all in shock.

Through all of this I have realized several things:

I need to declutter the stress in my life and adjust my priorities.

1. Getting my daughter into a safe facility and getting counseling to help reconstruct our toxic relationship. This is my biggest most draining stress. This is my number one, but it’s just paperwork and emotionally tough but something I know for sure is going to happen. It’s just a matter of time and effort. So I don’t know if that is a good goal?

I also feel like I need to focus on these:

  • Healing mentally, emotionally and spiritually from years of trauma and chaos.
  • Cleaning and Organizing my home and decluttering my physical belongings.
  • Physically. Improve my diet and start attending self defense classes for fitness and to feel more aware of my surroundings and a little bit safer.

However, those 3 are going to take a lot of consistent effort over a long period of time.

THE BIG ONE – a Home Equity Loan

The biggest goal in front of me right now though is getting a home equity loan and paying off all our debt so we only have a house payment. Paying the house and loan and monthly utilities etc for 1 year and putting a large sum in a business account for him to get started so we don’t have to worry about losing our home while my husband starts his new business venture.

This is a HUGE stress and I have been trying to talk my husband into it for 2 years but he is hesitant. I know it’s the right plan. It was given to me in prayer and it feels peaceful to me. But not to him. I handle ALL the finances. He makes the money but I do everything else on my own. He has no idea what we owe or what monthly expenses look like etc.

I’ve tried to explain but he just gets frustrated and doesn’t listen. He is making this job change to improve our financial situation so he is coming around slowly. This loan is the only way we will ever get out of debt. The interest is just too high on too many accounts to ever get out from under it.

Goals for others?

Can I set a goal of my husband getting the loan so I can pay off all that debt? I can visualize signing the papers and paying off each account clear as a bell. I just can’t make him do it and the house isn’t in my name so my husband has to do it himself.

Can I make a goal that someone else has to do?

Thank you so much!!!

My reply:

Jimi, I am so sorry to hear about your uncle. About setting a goal for your husband to do something, I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead, put your energy into seeing what life looks like on the other side of it.

What does life look like now that that those concerns are behind you? That way, the success of the goal isn’t dependent on him. Also, doing it this way focuses less on the how, which can be a trap.

What if you’re successful at getting the loan but due to unforeseen circumstances it leads you into a bigger, unintended problem? The goal is not the loan. The goal is the freedom to grow and progress unhindered.

If he chooses in, fine, but if he doesn’t, the desired outcome can still happen some other way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the outcome happen in ways I never could have imagined. What if you could have the freedom without rearranging debt? What if you could have the freedom by having NO debt?

Don’t limit what’s possible

Don’t limit what’s possible by deciding “how” things have to happen. Avoid putting all your energy into making the next thing happen and instead into enjoying the experience of living in the results in your mind. Then go about doing what you can to help that happen CALMLY.

That is the key.

If life is swirling, falling apart, but you stay calm holding the vision of happy outcomes, the things you need (opportunities, resources, contacts, inspired ideas, and even unseen help leading your husband for the sake of your family’s wellbeing) to realize it will begin to move toward you.

Decisions based on fear

Never make a big decision from a place of fear. It most often won’t be inspired. Sometimes an idea feels good and peaceful in comparison to the fear that has been swirling. The real test is whether it still feels good and peaceful after spending time and energy really imagining the outcome as done, from a place of anticipation, curiosity, and excitement about what’s possible.

I’m sure you’ve heard the story of when I used Rare Faith principles to get a loan to go through that wasn’t looking very promising. I used the principles, it miraculously went through, and it turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes of our life. We eventually had to go bankrupt and I can trace it back to that one decision – there was another way to solve the problem, but I was too anxious for relief to be open to any other possibilities.


Mindset mastery asks you in phase one to design a vision for each area of your life. Do that as instructed. When it asks you to set an inconsequential goal, do it again with a new test, even though I believe you’ve done that before.

Beyond natural control, but feasibly resolved in a short time

When it asks you to choose a bite sized piece of one of your bigger goals, I think the one about your daughter is perfect, finding a facility that feels right and perfect for her under the circumstances, with the way or means to make it happen. This qualifies for the experiment because it’s beyond your natural control, but something that could feasibly be resolved in a relatively short period of time.

Jimi’s response:


I just want to update you.

After my uncles incident I told my husband that I wanted a house dog that could travel with me because I go out of state alone a lot and with him taking the new job he will be gone for days at a time leaving my son and I home alone. He agreed and I was shocked. I’ve wanted a dog for 4 years but he just wouldn’t allow it.

So I started the search and I visioned a beautiful pup following me everywhere and seriously experienced what it would be like to have her with me all day every day.

I pretended to have a dog

I pretended for 3 days that she was following me around and practiced talking to and training the imaginary dog. 😂 Crazy. But…. I put a post on Facebook about the breed I wanted and a friend reminded me of another friend that had a litter.

I looked at the pictures of her pups and I recognized my pup instantly it was my imaginary pup! Lol I messaged the friend for details and they still had her. Then I gave my husband the details and he said she was perfect and to go get her.

I waited 3 more days to bring her home and I’ve had her a week today. She has been exactly what I dreamed of. Even my husband loves her! I wasn’t trying to “jackrabbit” her. I just wanted her so badly. My heart ached for her and it was just a natural response. But here she is.

Did I accidentally jackrabbit her?

Also. A lot has happened with my daughter. She has been struggling a lot and I’ve realized that our relationship just isn’t healthy. I have done all I can do and I can no longer help her as her guardian. I am numb and wish I felt more. I should be sad. But I am just ready to move forward with our lives. I have been my daughters focus of manipulation and bullying for 6 years. She tries to control every second of my life and it is destroying me.

Drama, control, and chaos

I am depressed and hardly getting dressed let alone cleaning, cooking or interacting with my other family members. She tries to keep my focus centered on her at all times. I homeschool our 10 year old and he is now behind because she keeps our days so crazy with drama and chaos that we aren’t getting anything done. It is no longer healthy for her to live at home and I hate that, but I know that we are codependent. At this point it’s like living with an addict except her addiction is simply drama, control, and chaos.

We have a court hearing on Monday and I am transferring guardianship of her to the public administrator and she will place her in a safe facility that she otherwise wouldn’t have access to. This transition is going to be challenging because I am completely giving up control of my daughter. If she is in an unsafe place I can advocate for her but I will have no legal right to move her.

I know it’s the right thing to do because she will never get the help she needs as long as she can blame her problems on me. Once I give up guardianship she is responsible for her mental and physical health and she is going to have to make the changes and get the help she needs if she ever wants to be independent. It is no longer “me” keeping her from that. She has to take ownership of future. I know that will never happen as long as she is living at home, and I’m her guardian so this is the right thing.

Leaving an abusive relationship

I am also going to have a lot of healing to do because this is basically leaving an abusive relationship. I have to learn how to not let her have control over me. I have to step back and let her take ownership of her life and watch her make mistakes. I’ve done that with my older 2 but it’s different with her. I have to take back ownership of MY life. I have to learn how to live and thrive. In the past when she has been hospitalized I have felt so guilty and felt I had to do everything I could to help her and I just stopped living. I cried for an entire year until I just went numb about a year ago. I’ve been stuck in survival mode since. Just trying to survive each day as they come.

Inner conflict

It feels horrible to try to imagine a peaceful place that is peaceful because your child isn’t in it. Imagining a life free of chaos, disaster and pain because your child is no longer hurting you mentally and emotionally because they have been removed from the home. How do you thrive and be HAPPY and energetic and Flourishing when your child is trying to take their own life? When they are locked up because they choose not to be safe? When your child is in pain and suffering because they have a mental illness? It’s not drugs or alcohol, it’s her own body – her own mind betraying her. How am I supposed to go on living and being happy when she is locked up?

Overcoming feelings of guilt

I know at this point that I have nothing to feel guilty about. I have done everything I can and multiple therapists and doctors have tried to help her and she refuses to do the work to heal. She’s 18 and I can no longer help her and I’ve done all I can, so I shouldn’t feel guilty.

I have to break out of that! I have to remember how to live again and to Feel!

I think cleaning the house is going to be my goal in some way. The therapeutic cleaning of ME in the process of letting go of the chaos, the guilt, the stuff and ick that has accumulated in our home while I’ve been in a zombie state for 2 years. I’m still figuring it out but it’s getting clearer. It feels just out of reach because I can’t yet imagine what that feels like.

I’m still trying to feel so trying to feel thankful for the peace and quiet and lack of clutter physically emotionally and mentally is still out of range. It doesn’t seem possible yet or it doesn’t feel right yet? It doesn’t feel like I deserve that yet but I know it is possible and I know my husband and my son deserve peace and happiness and a clean calm home for sure and I’m trying to vision or imagine or just get an idea of what that looks like without feeling guilty.

Cleaning the house is easy. Organizing is easy. I love cleaning and organizing!

It’s the guilt of being happy that’s getting me.

So, my goal right now is to establish a morning routine. 5am to Noon:

Get dressed. Feed my son. His homework done. The puppy is helping with that. She is on a very consistent schedule with eating and pooping so it’s helping me get up, go outside and I can’t help but smile and feel alive when she’s with me.

So my goal right now is actually following the morning routine from 5am to Noon. That I can visualize. That I can SEE and FEEL each step of the day happening. So far, it’s honestly a struggle just to get dressed and get homework done. That’s really all I’m accomplishing, but I have my schedule printed for each day the way I want it to work and I am just doing the best I can each day and hoping to do better tomorrow. It sounds lame and crazy but right now just making a morning routine into a HABIT is a huge goal that is quite challenging.

Will that work? Can I start there?

I had no idea where it was going until I typed this out but now that feels right. It feels like the first step in healing. Like something that will make a huge impact on my life once in place but simple enough that I can see and feel it and it feels within reach eventually if I stay consistent and continue to work on it. Something relatively challenging for the zombie that I’ve become.

Just make my morning routine into a habit. Is that an ok goal to start with?

Thank you for your help and patience!


My reply:

YES! That’s a great goal to start with… just decide how to know when you’ve accomplished it, so it’s check-offable. You know? How will you know it’s become a habit? Make sure that part is clear.

Also, how about instead of imagining “happy”, you focus instead on imagining “grateful”? If you feel guilty being happy, perhaps you won’t have to feel guilty being grateful – grateful for anything and everything you can think of. Don’t be happy, just be grateful. I have a feeling happiness will eventually sneak up on you at the right time and place. 😉

I am so amazed at how you’re processing everything. What you’ve taken on is colossal – and you’re doing it!! Step by step, this is how you’ll navigate it. Do you see how setting the business goal isn’t bad, but it will work better in its right time?

Congratulations on your puppy, and also on your courageous move with your daughter. As hard as it is, it’s really good to know deep down exactly what you need to do next, isn’t it? This is how it works. You instinctively knew what to do with the abusive co-dependency because you were enlightened to it. Enlightenment comes from first picturing how life and relationships are supposed to be, and from there you can finally see it from the outside, and know what needs to happen.

Keep up the great work! Leslie


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Leslie Householder
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